Using Cuttings And Leaf Cuttings To Propagate Your Houseplants
When you have some favorite plants that are outgrowing their place or need to replace some short-lived plants, taking cuttings is a good way to grow some replacements. It’s also a great way to increase the number of plants you have in your collection. Read on to learn more.
How to Propagate Houseplant Cuttings
You don’t need anything more than some clean flowerpots, a sharp knife, and some cutting compost. A few short sticks might come in handy to support the new cuttings as well.
You have to be sure you provide a lighted place with an even temperature of 55-64° F. (13-18 C.) (more for tropical plants). You can grow more than one cutting in each pot as well.
Plants like ivy (Hedera), and anything else that has long, trailing stems with leaves growing at intervals along the whole length, can be propagated from a simple cutting taken from a length of stem without the need for tips on how to grow it. They grow easily.
One long piece of the stem can be divided into several pieces that can be planted up into pots of cuttings compost, watered, and covered in a plastic tent until you see new growth. When new growth appears, it indicates that the young cuttings have taken root and are mature enough to safely be potted.
A leaf petiole cutting uses a leaf and its stalk (the petiole). If you have soft-stemmed plants, they root well this way and the method is often used for African violet (Saintpaulia).
Pick your plant by making sure it has plenty of leaves. Make sure the leaves you choose have firm, fleshy petioles. Cut the leaf stalks at the base, and trim the stems down until they are 3 to 4 cm (7.5 to 10 cm.) long.
Dip the petiole tips in hormone rooting powder and place cuttings in a pot of cuttings compost. Make sure the pieces are standing so the leaf doesn’t get web. Cover the pot with plastic and keep it warm until new growth appears.
In order to take tip cuttings, pick a healthy plant with lots of well-developed stems. Take your cuttings from the outside of the plant because the newer, softer pieces won’t grow root well. Keep the cuttings in good light and warmth until new growth shows that roots have taken. In order to encourage bushy growth, pinch them out at the growing points as they grow.
When taking cuttings, use a sharp knife or scalpel to cut a 3 to 5 in (8 to 13 cm.) length of the stem. Make sure the growing tip is at the end. Make your cut above the leaf joint or node and be sure to cut it at an angle away from the joint.
Just below the bottom of the leaf joint is where you should trim the stem. The leaf joint is where new roots will develop. You need to cleanly slide off the lower leaf or pair of leaves. If you are busy getting several cuttings, you can keep them in water until you’re ready to transplant.
You’ll want to make a hole in a pot of compost. Dip the cutting in rooting powder and stick it in the compost. You want to make sure the leaves are not touching it. Finally, just water the compost from above. If you want to conserve moisture, you can make a tent with a plastic bag and put it over it.
When you take cuttings from the African violet, these leaf petiole cuttings can be rooted in water. Just cover the top of a bottle with kitchen paper held in place with a rubber band. Poke a hole in it and stick the cutting through it. If you keep it warm, light, and draft-free, you will ensure that you have plenty of new violet plants to take care of.
If you are taking stem cuttings, using a sharp knife cut off a good length of the stem. Cut the plant just above the leaf joints and divide the stems into small pieces. Make sure each piece has a leaf. Stick the cuttings into a pot of cuttings compost. You can place several in a pot. You don’t want to place the cuttings too close to the edges because the compost at the edges becomes too dry. Water the pot and then cover it with a little plastic tent. Make sure the leaves don’t touch the plastic. When you see small new leaves, then the cuttings have rooted. These should then be transferred to smaller pots of potting compost.
All of these are great examples of what to do when you want more plants. These are easy to follow ideas for how to build your collection or improve your indoor garden. Sometimes it’s trial and error, but for the most part, once you get started, there’s just no better feeling than knowing you did this all by yourself.
Stem or leaf cuttings, slips, and air layering are ways for growing a new houseplant from an existing one. Getting a new houseplant identical to your old houseplant is usually an easy procedure but there are details that must be carefully followed depending on the species of plant. Find tips for propagating your favorite houseplants in the Iowa State University Extension & Outreach Yard and Garden news release from February 21, 2018.
Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on March 9, 2018. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.
Propagating houseplants can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of indoor gardening. Creating new plants from a parent plant is a quick way to grow a wide variety houseplants to share with friends or add to your current collection. Successfully propagating houseplants has everything to do with choosing an appropriate propagation method and selecting healthy plants to propagate from. Don’t attempt to propagate plants that are diseased or have overly thin or thick stems.
Before starting a propagation project, you’ll want to gather a few materials. The basics things you’ll need are a sterile soilless potting media mix, small planting containers with bottom drainage, sharp scissors or a knife, a pencil, and clear plastic bags. You may also want to pick up a container of rooting hormone powder. Most houseplants will grow new roots without a rooting hormone, but using one can speed rooting and increase the number of roots produced.
Many types of plants can be easily propagated through cuttings. Cutting is the process of rooting severed pieces of a parent plant, including stems, leaves, and roots. The advantages of this type of propagation are many. Taking cuttings is quick and efficient, is the only way to preserve some unique cultivars, and is a great way to rejuvenate old or overgrown plants.
Tip cuttings are the easiest and most common type of cutting to make. To take a tip cutting, use a sharp pair of scissors or a knife to detach the terminal portion of a stem that has some leaves and at least two nodes. A node is a slightly swollen area where leaves and buds emerge from the stem, and also where new roots will grow from the cutting. To start the process, fill a small container with moistened potting mix and use a pencil to create a planting hole that is 1-3 inches deep. Next, take a tip cutting just below a node and remove the leaves on the lower half of the stem that will come into contact with the potting mix. Dip the end of the stem in rooting hormone (optional) and insert the end of the cutting in the planting hole. Make sure at least one node is beneath the soil surface, as that is where the roots will form. Place the cutting in a warm location with bright, indirect light. Coleus, pothos, ivy, and geraniums are often propagated in this manner.
Leaf cuttings can also be used to propagate a number of houseplants. It takes longer to create a new plant from a leaf than it does a stem section, but if you don’t have much plant material to work with, leaf cuttings can be a good choice. Leaves with petioles (leaf stalks), including those of African violet, peperomia, and begonia, should be cut so that ½ to 1½ inches of the petiole remains. The lower end of the petiole should be inserted in the soil mix in the same manner as tip cuttings. Plants with leaves that do not have petioles, such as sansevieria, jade, or other succulents, should be inserted vertically into the soil media. Once the new plant has its own roots and has started growing new leaves, the original leaf can be removed.
With the exception of succulents, most cuttings need high humidity in order to grow properly. Until cuttings develop roots, they are very susceptible to drying out. If you don’t have a bright area with high humidity, you can create a humid environment around the cutting by placing a clear plastic bag over it.
How long it takes a cutting to root depends entirely upon the species of plant you’re propagating and growing conditions. Expect the majority of houseplants to begin forming roots within two to four weeks, but don’t be alarmed if it takes a little longer. You can check on the progress of your cuttings by gently tugging on them periodically. When you feel resistance, you’ll know that roots are forming.
How to Create Divisions from Your Houseplants
For houseplants that produce many offshoots or pups from the roots such as corn plant and aloe, you can use division to multiply your collection.
Step 1: Remove the whole plant from its pot. For each pup, gently pull it away from the main root ball. You may need to use a trowel or soil knife to slice through stubborn roots. Try to keep as many roots as possible with each pup.
Step 2: Immediately place the separated pups into new containers of potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist for the next few weeks to help the disturbed roots begin to grow again.
Step 3: Place plants out of direct light. Move them into brighter light over a period of 10 days, and give them a little houseplant fertilizer at about half-strength to encourage new growth.
Tuber DivisionAbove: Begonias under propagation at White Flower Farm. See growing tips for begonias in Gardening 101: Hardy Begonia. Photograph by Sara Barrett.
This method works for plants like tuberous begonia or caladium because they produce bulbous-like underground tubers.
How to do it: Slice the tubers into multiple sections, ensuring each section has an eye, and then plant right away and keep the soil moist.
- Choose healthy stems, small branches or vine sections from your shrubs, trees or climbers.
- Cut straight across the stems, cutting across with a clean, sharp implement just above a bud.
- Next, cut off any soft growth at the growing tip end of the cutting. Cut at a sloping angle so water will run off the top of your cutting, and so you can easily see which end goes up.
- Cut your chosen stem/branch/vine section into pieces around 12 inches in length. (Making a straight cut at the base, and a sloping cut at the top of each section.
- Best results will often be achieved if you dip the ends of your cuttings into something to promote root formation. Hormone rooting powder is one option, though willow, honey or cinnamon, for example, can also be used to make a rooting solution to improve results. However, this is not always necessary, and many hardwood cuttings will successfully take without assistance.
How to Make Your Own Rooting Hormone Alternative
Make willow water. Cut fresh young willow growth in spring into 1 inch pieces. Put them in a jar, 1/3 twigs to 2/3 boiling water. Leave in a sunny spot for at least 24 hours. Strain, and use this to water your cuttings.
Homemade willow rooting hormone
Use honey water. Add 1 tbsp of organic honey to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir to combine, leave to cool, and use on your cuttings within a couple of weeks.
Use apple cider vinegar and cinnamon. Dip cuttings into a solution of 3 tsp ACV in 1 gallon of water. Then dip the ends of the cutting into ground cinnamon.
There are also a few other techniques that may aid in rooting for more challenging hardwood cuttings.)
- Transfer your cuttings to where they are to grow on as soon as possible, so they don’t dry out.
Hardwood cuttings can be placed in containers, or into a bed or trench prepared with plenty of organic matter. Ideally, it is best to prepare the area before taking your cuttings. Since the cuttings will usually stay in place for a full 12 months after you plant them in the ground or containers, it is important to choose their location carefully.