Propagation: Success and Failure

growing plants making plants plant babies plant experiments propagation

Propagating can be such a fun and rewarding pastime for a plant parent. However, it can also be the most frustrating, makes-you-question-your-entire-ability-as-a-plant-parent time ever. 

In this post, I am going to go over the ups and downs I have experienced propagating plants, and experiments I have tried (and plan to try) to make my props more successful.

Propagating is a great way to increase your plant collection without paying more money. Popular plants to propagate include philodendron, hoya, pothos, and peperomia, though almost anything can be propagated in one way or another.

How I Do It

Image of Hoya Pubicalyx Splash rooted cutting
Image of hoya pubicalyx splash rooted cutting. Was rooted in spagmoss.

It all starts when you take that perfect cutting from your favourite plant. A good piece of node or a long stem giving you the perfect future plant baby. You put it in your choice of medium (personally I prefer water) and wait. I also like to dip the ends in rooting hormone though that is definitely not needed all the time.

Sometimes it takes day, usually weeks, but can even be months. 99 times out of 100 you will start to see some roots. I have heard various thoughts around how big the roots should be before planting in soil. I personally have a bit more luck once the thicker roots start growing smaller roots off of them but some people prefer to pot in soil as soon as there is one decent sized root. It definitely depends on the plant though.

For example, I propagate ripple peperomia and watermelon peperomia and those you will want to wait until it starts growing small leaves under the water before planting. I will wait until at least one of those new baby leaves is big enough not to be swallowed up by the soil. For this reason, these types of peperomia are usually a couple months of propagation time. 

For pothos I actually tend to just keep them in water. My marble queen and brand new cebu blue pothos are in soil where as my golden and neon pothos are both in water. I have not even bothered playing around with nutrients yet as they both seem to be growing fine, though that may be an experiment for another blog post.

I do have some plants I have propped in soil semi successfully. I have some peperomia obtusifolia variegated and green currently propping in soil. The variegated one has root but the green one I haven't checked in a while. I also have a string of turtles in soil doing really well!

I have tried leca a bit but didn't find it did much and to be honest I cheaped out on the leca and I think that could be part of the issue. I still have it though so I think when all my current props are potted up I will try the leca again with some different plants!

Future Plans

In the future (next month - year) I would like to buy a small greenhouse for either my office/ plant room or our bedroom and keep my props and rooted cuttings in there. This would be especially helpful in the winter when my place gets incredibly dry. 

I do plan to experiment more with hydro and semi hydro plants and props including playing around with nutrients. I have not yet been brave enough to but I do really want to!

I would also love to prop larger philodendrons like my imperial red. I want to wait until it has a few more leaves first though. I want to buy more larger plants like that as well to prop and sell to you all! Propping larger plants in a small apartment is a bit of a challenge though.

I want to play around with ways to transfer to soil that are less likely to result in a failed prop. I would say I am only about 50% successful with my philodendron micans cuttings. I usually wait about a month after putting them in soil to ensure they have taken to it successfully. It is super annoying to cut off such a lovely plant only to have the cuttings die as soon as they hit soil *sigh*. 

So tell me, what propagation experiences and experiments do you have to share? I would love to hear from you!


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