Propagation, amirite?

Propagation, amirite?

This is one topic I am constantly being asking about, and I never get tired of talking about. It's incredible that we have the ability to essentially cut the limb off of a living organism, and it grows roots enough to reestablish itself as a self-sustaining plant. If you listen real hard you can probably hear my mind-blowing from where you sit. 

Today I want to cover some of the easiest plants I've been able to propagate, some of my propagation failures, and where I get my propagation cradles. Also, how many more times can I say "propagate? in this blog?

The Easiest Plants to Propagate

Pothos or "Devil's Ivy"

I started in the world of propagation pretty quickly after I started my plant journey. I somehow got a bee in my bonnet about growing my own floor plants and trailing vine plants instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a large luscious plant someone else raised. It get's weird when I start talking about plants like actual children, I know, but bear with me anyway. I figured the best way to do this was to be able to take cuttings from other plants and root and nurture them myself. I bought my first Pothos plant from Amazon, as a small cutting and when it arrived... I was devastated. Pothos plants are usually very hardy, so when I saw the condition of this one I knew it was bad. The brown spots and mushy roots were proof that the plant had clearly been consistently overwatered. I mean, just look at this poor thing.


I'll be writing another blog post digging into my rescue plants, but to save this plant I:

  1. Put it on a slow and steady watering schedule. I waited until the pot was almost totally dry before lightly watering again, and never before.
  2. Put it in a nice bright indirect lit spot. 
  3. Cut back all the damaged foliage once new leaves started growing in and started propagating cuttings from other Marbled Pothos to fill in this poor bare baby. 

I had gone to a local plant shop and found the more mature and healthy Marbled Pothos to start the propagation project. I started by taking about 4 cuttings and immediately putting them in water. In my opinion, it's best to cut a Pothos right below the "elbow" - grab a well-established vine and right before the single vine splits into two vines you'll see a little brown bump called a "node" (pronounced noh-d). These nodes are little bumps on the stem of a plant from a leave, branch, or aerial root grows. When placed in water, these cuttings' nodes grow into a healthy root system for the new plant to get established. 


Depending on conditions and time of year, it can sometimes take as little as a week or as long as over a month to start getting new roots on a cutting. 

Monstera Deliciosa or "Swiss Cheese Plant"

The Monstera Deliciosa. So hot right now. 

This plant is incredibly easy to propagate as well! Every new leaf that shoots off from the plant also provides a node that will either grow into an aerial root or can slowly grow into an actual room when placed in water. 

The roots grow so quickly and so well in water! I usually wait until the roots are about 2-3 inches long before placing them in soil. Once in soil, they take off! 

Ficus Elastica Burgundy or "Burgundy Ficus"

This is a plant you actually don't need a node for! As long as you have a couple leaves, you can just cut the stem off a shoot and place it in water. Again, depending on conditions, little white nubby roots start showing all over the submerged stem somewhere between a week and a month. Propagation for a ficus plant is pretty much the same across the different Ficus Elastica plants, so if you're lucky enough to get a cutting... put that baby in water! Here is my Burgundy Ficus in its stages of propagation.

The beginnings of roots! 

The beginnings of roots! 

The first inch of healthy roots. 

The first inch of healthy roots. 

First week in soil.

First week in soil.

Once put in soil, I kept the water a little more on the moist side to help it adjust. After about a week or so, I slowed on the watering and let it dry out a bit before it's next watering. Before I knew it the cutting was shooting off new leaves! SWEET SUCCESS.

Propagation Failures

Ficus Lyrata or "Fiddle-leaf Fig Tree"

Ugh this one hurts. The Fiddle-leaf is such a fun plant, and I wanted to try my hand at propagating from a single leaf. I had heard some plants can do this, and wanted to see if this was one of them. 


After a couple months of patiently waiting the leaf did actually start producing roots!


I was so excited. I ultimately let it continue to sit in water until it established a fairly healthy root system before I planted it in soil. BUT, as it turns out, the Fiddle-leaf Fig cannot actually continue to grow from a propagated leaf. This plant and a few others require an actual part of the stem to continue to grow successfully. This rooted leaf would have continued to stay alive in the soil, but it would never have grown into anything more than this.

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia Plant or the "Zz Plant"

This propagation attempt was short-lived. Soon after taking a cutting and placing it in water, the stem started to yellow and the cutting died. This is also one of those plants that requires a healthy part of the root system to propagate from. 

Propagation Cradles

Now, this is the fun part! I've seen a ton of different propagation vessels, and use a couple different ones myself. Outside of formal vessels I also use small mason jars, old sea salt glass containers, essentially any small glass container. Something with a smaller opening at the top is better in my experience because it's better at holding small cuttings in place without allowing them to slip.

The first propagation cradle I got was from Amazon, and I still love it SO MUCH. Unfortunately, 2 minutes after opening the package, I clumsily dropped it and shattered two of the globes, so I had to order a second one. You'll frequently see in my photos on my Instagram one cradle with 3 globes and one with just one. You can find this cradle here


My second cradle is actually a handmade item from a friend of mine, and I definitely recommend it. She hand crafts them along with plant stands, shelves and all kinds of fun plant mama accessories. 

To check out her shop, click here.


Ok, that's it! What are some of your propagation successes and failures? What are your favorite propagation vessels?

Saving Plants From Bad Vendors, and Ourselves.

Saving Plants From Bad Vendors, and Ourselves.

Introducing, the Urban Plant Oasis blog.

Introducing, the Urban Plant Oasis blog.