Plants are natural self-propagators.
Along with producing seeds, plants have a unique ability to allow for broken stems and leaves to re-root themselves and produce new plants. One can take advantage of this natural phenomenon by performing plant propagation, by taking cuttings from plants and following a few simple techniques.
The ideal time to take a plant cutting is during spring and summer months when plants are in their natural growth period and surrounded by warmth and sunlight.
Some hanging plants, such as the hedera helix, or English ivy plant, thrive when cuttings are placed into a glass of clear water and allowed to take root. In a period of seven to 10 days, most ivies will have taken root and will have produced numerous, tiny hair-like roots. When the roots are about two and one half centimetres, carefully transplant (pot-up) into a larger container.
Propagation also occurs in other types of plants such as cacti, succulents and bromeliads. These plants produce offsets (tiny baby plants) at the base of the plant. To propagate, wait until the new plant resembles the parent in shape and form.
Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the offset from the original plant. Place the offset directly into a container prepared with the appropriate potting mix. Initially, these plants should be kept moist for the first two months and then gradually weened to their natural drier climate.
Some houseplants, such as the chlorophytum comosum (the common spider plant), produce tiny trailing plants called plantlets. Often these trailing runners produce root systems all their own, which can be removed from the original plant and planted directly into a potting mix.
Tuberous plants such as the popular tuberous begonia can also be divided by slicing a healthy bulb into two pieces, each having a formed shoot. It is important to dust the bulb with fungicide to prevent infection. Plant as you would a healthy bulb, and keep evenly moist.
Plant propagation is a great way to increase the quantity of plants in your home while giving life to plants that may have broken or damaged leaves. It’s also a great and inexpensive way to create gifts for friends and neighbours.
Try propagating a plant in your home. A few simple techniques will allow you to produce numerous plants while enjoying watching new plants grow.
Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at [email protected]