Stuck indoors? Time to propagate!

Fancy some more plants in your house? Propagating plants can be a really satisfying activity whilst self isolating during this crazy time. They make for great gifts too if you want to leave a couple in front of your house...


In this article we focus on plantlets, division, offsets, stem cuttings and leaf cuttings.


Note: Plants have specific propagation methods that they prefer. We have included some examples below but if you have a specific plant you would like to propagate feel free to contact us or send us a photo of your plant on our social channels.



Prepare the new pot

You will need a potting mixture for your new plants as normal soil can be too high in nutrients that burn the small roots. Potting mixture also retains water without waterlogging the soil.


You can make your own potting soil by mixing equal parts of peat moss and perlite/vermiculite/coarse sand.





Plantlets

Some species of plants such as spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) or Mother of Thousands (Bryophyllum daigremontianum) produce ready-made baby plants. These can be found at the end of leaves of flower stems and can be easily detached and planted individually to make new plants!




Division

Some plants grow in clumps that can be divided into smaller clumps. To do this, take the plant out of its pot and gradually (and gently) pull the clumps apart.


If you are struggling, you may have to shake or wash off some of the soil so that you can separate the roots. Only do this if needed, as the plants can struggle to revive themselves after the division as you will be damaging their finer roots.


Some plants have very dense roots such as ferns, which may require a knife. Again, only use this if absolutely needed.


Plant the divided clump in a pot which is larger than the spread of the roots - take care not to hurt the roots when repotting! Hold the plant at the correct level in the pot, and slowly sprinkle soil into the pot (so that the roots aren't all locked together and are repotted in a spread). Press down the soil when finished.


If your propagated plant starts to wilt, try using a plastic bag over the pot to increase humidity.


Do not try to divide woody plants such as palms and orchids - they are unlikely to survive. We will give you some specific care instructions for orchids later on!





Offsets

Offsets are side-growths from the "parent plant". They can spring from the main stem (common for succulents) or could be joined to the parent from the base (for example with bulbs)


With offsets you need to make sure that the baby plant has grown enough to propagate. This varies from plant to plant, so again you can write to us if you are unsure.


When the offset is large enough, use a sharp knife or blade and cut the baby as close to the main stem as possible.


Push your new baby plant into a rooting mixture until it sits comfortably (you may need to use sticks to support the plant if it is top-heavy) and water the soil.


Keep the baby plant in a light space (not direct light) until it has formed roots. As soon as this is done, you can move your plant into its ideal soil.


Stem cuttings

This is the most common propagation method for houseplants, although not all plants can be propagated from stem cuttings (palms for example). Philodendrons are great plants to be propagated from stem cuttings.


It's best to do stem cuttings in spring or summer when the parent plant is just beginning its growth period.


Cut your plant below a node. A node is the point at which new leaves grow. We recommend cutting three nodes down from the tip of the plant. Use a sharp knife or scissors to do this in a horizontal line below the node. If a leaf is growing from the bottom node, remove the leaves.





Soil

Make a hole in the potting mix (with a pencil for example) and gently put the cutting into the hole. You can either put one cutting in the middle of a pot, or plant three or more around the rim of the pot. Gently push the soil around the cutting.


For best chances of survival, place the pot inside a plastic bag to increase warmth and humidity.


Check on your cuttings from time-to-time to make sure they are not rotting. If you see any leaves rotting simply remove them.


Water

Some plant stems root well in water such as ivy and tradescantias (Wandering jew/Spiderwort). Remove several of the bottom leaves and place in a jar of water. Make sure you change the water every 3 days or so to keep it fresh.


Once roots are about 2 inches long you can plant in soil (carefully!)



Leaf cuttings

This can be a fantastic method to propagate plants such as peperomias and begonias as well as some succulents such as echeverias and crassulas.


Cut a mature leaf from the parent plant (including its leafstalk) and plant into a moist rooting mixture. If the cutting is toppling over, you may need to shorten the leafstalk so that it can stay up.


When it has taken, you will see a small plantlet growing from the base after a couple of weeks. Once it's an inch tall, you can cut the parent leaf down to the surface of the soil and let your new plant grow!




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