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January 19, 2021

House plant propagation easy and rewarding

Photo/Nancy Daniels
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), sometimes called Devil’s ivy, is one of the easiest plants to propagate with simple stem cutting in water for a few weeks.
By Nancy Daniels
Extension Master Gardener

The Covid-19 pandemic year has inspired me to want more house plants — popular among those of all ages in our household.

If you have a plant that friends and family desire, think about propagation of that plant. There are several methods, but the two easy ways are rooting the plant clippings in water or, for a little more of a horticultural challenge, using plant hormones to promote development of roots on plant cuttings.

To propagate plants using water, you will need a clear glass jar or bottle, sharp scissors, water and a fresh plant clipping. In a few weeks you will need a small pot and potting soil.

The first step is to fill your jar almost to the brim with water and let it sit for a few hours so it can adjust to room temperature.

The second step is to cut your clipping. Select a newer stem with leaves from the plant and remove the lower leaves so that only the stem is submerged in the water.

The third step is to place it in the water and observe the root system as it develops. This process of developing roots could take several weeks, depending on the plant. Place the plant in indirect sunlight.

The plant is ready for planting once you see numerous white roots. Leaving the plant in water beyond a half-inch root developing could cause the plant to have a difficult time acclimating to soil.

The fourth step is to place the plant in a small container with potting soil. Lightly pack the soil around the root system. Do not overwater the plant; the soil should just be moist. Transfer the plant to a lovely larger pot once the roots have developed well in the small pot.

Good candidates for rooting in wate include:

• Christmas casctusSchlumbergera ×buckleyi

• Chinese money plantPilea peperomioides

• PothosEpipremnum aureum

• Angle-wing begoniaBegonia coccinea

• Heart-leaf PhilodendronPhilodendron hederaceum, variety oxycardium

• Spider plantChlorophytum comosum

To propagate a plant using a rooting hormone, you will need a small pot, potting soil, sharp scissors, clear plastic bag (food storage bags work well, gallon or quart size), rooting hormone powder and a fresh plant clipping. The powder can be purchased at most gardening stores, including Home Depot and Lowe’s.

The first step is to fill a pot with soil and make a hole twice the width of the stem and deep enough for the entire bottom half of the stem to be submerged in the soil.

The second step is to clip a leafy stem and dip the stem in rooting powder. Ensure that you removed the lower leaves on the stem. If the powder isn't sticking well to the stem, wipe the stem with a damp paper towel and dip again. You only want dampness on the stem, not a wet stem.

For plants that are mainly leaves like the African violet, clip a leaf with some stem, and dip in the powder.

The third step is to place the stem in the hole and lightly pack the dirt around the stem.

The fourth step is to lightly water the soil. You only want damp soil and the soil must remain damp, so lightly moisten the soil when needed.

Then place a clear plastic bag over the entire plant and pot. The plastic bag acts as a greenhouse for the plant; it keeps the soil moist and helps trap warm air. Place the plant in indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will heat up the plant too much with the plastic bag around it.

Once a root system is established, you can remove the bag and replant in a larger pot.

Good plants to root using hormone powder include:

• African violetsSaintpaulia sp.

• Umbrella plantSchefflera arboricola

• Snake plantSansevieria trifasciata

• Tropica hibiscusHibiscus rosa-sinensis

• Orange or lemonCitrus x

Your friends and family will be thrilled.

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