Houseplant growers don’t need a lot of equipment to propagate a houseplant. Gardeners can get by with a coffee cup, potting soil, 3 drinking straws, a plastic bag and a rubber band. Start by making a slit or hole in the bottom of the coffee cup so that it drains excess water. Then fill the cup with moist potting soil. Do not use garden soil as it does not drain well. Too much water (and too little oxygen) will harm cuttings.
Prepare the Cutting
– Remove about a 4-inch or smaller piece from the tip of the plant. The cut should be made just below a node. A node is where a leaf attaches to the stem.
– Remove the leaf or leaves from the bottom node. This is where roots will form.
– If there are just a few leaves on the tip, fine. However, if there is a cluster of leaves, remove most of them below the tip. This will cut down on water loss as the plant makes new roots.
Plant the Cutting
– Push the bottom end of the cutting into the soil. The remaining leaves should not contact the soil. A rooting hormone may be used if desired but usually is unnecessary with houseplants.
Make a Greenhouse
– Place 3 straws equidistant from each other near the outside edge the cup full of potting soil. They will support the plastic bag so that it does not contact the leaves and cause them to rot.
– Place the plastic bag over the cup like a tent and use the rubber band to secure the open end of the bag to the sides of the cup.
Grow the Cutting
– Place the cutting in bright, indirect light. Do not place in full sunlight as the cutting may overheat.
– Keep the cutting warm. A temperature of 72 degrees is ideal. Roots should form in about 10 days. Check by removing the plastic bag and pulling gently on the cutting. If it doesn’t pull out easily, roots have started to form and the plastic bag can be left off. (Ward Upham)
Everyone knows that someone stranded in the ocean should not drink the water. The salt content of that water will make a bad situation worse. What many people don’t realize is that this same principle can harm plants.
Fertilizers are salts. They must be salts in order for the plant roots to take them up. However, salt levels can build up over time and eventually may harm plant roots leading to scorched leaves and unhealthy plants. Though this can happen under field conditions, especially in low rainfall areas, it is particularly critical with houseplants.
Houseplants have a certain soil volume that doesn’t change until a plant is repotted. Salt build-up can be a crucial concern especially if plants are fertilized heavily. Leaching an overabundance of salts can be an important practice to ensure the health of our houseplants. Leaching is not a complicated or difficult process. It consists of adding enough water to wash out excess salts.
How much water is enough? Add the amount of water that would equal twice the volume of the pot. This, of course, would need to be done outside or in a bathtub or sink. Water must be added slowly so that it doesn’t overflow the rim of the pot. If salt has formed a crust on the surface of the soil, remove it but don’t take more than 1/4 inch of the underlying media. This may also be a good time to repot the plant.
Contributors: Ward Upham, Extension Associate
Horticulture & Natural Resources
2021 Throckmorton, KSU
Manhattan, KS 66506
Christy Dipman Horticulture & Natural Resources, KSU 1712 Claflin 2021 Throckmorton Plant Science Cntr. Manhattan, KS 66506