Thursday, November 26, 2020
Nov. 26, 2020

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Gardening with Allen: Start new trailing indoor plants


My friend has offered starts of her Swedish ivy plant which I admire. I have never started indoor plants from cuttings. Could you give me some suggestions on how to do this?

Swedish ivy (Plectranthus) and most trailing indoor plants are very easy to start from cuttings. Other easy to start trailing indoor plants include devil’s ivy (Scindapsus), spiderwort (Zebrina), philodendron, English ivy and spider plant (Chlorophytum).

I like to start these trailing plants in 6-inch pots so they quickly develop into a significant size plant. Fill a 6-inch pot loosely with potting soil clear to the rim. After watering, the soil will sink just enough to leave a half inch of space.

Any piece of stem will develop roots. However, the end pieces continue growing from the tip and develop faster. Cut pieces of stem with four or five leaves. Cut just above a leaf so you do not leave stubs. Trim the cuttings just below the bottom leaf. Remove the two bottom leaves and stick the cuttings into the soil up to the third leaf. Roots will form at the two nodes where the leaves were attached. Spider plants have plantlets at the nodes. Roots will develop directly from these plantlets. I usually stick about 10 cuttings into a 6-inch pot.

All of these plants root readily without rooting hormone. However, they will root even quicker if dipped in rooting hormone powder before sticking them in the pot. Cover the two bottom nodes where leaves were removed with hormone.

Place a clear plastic bag over the pot. This traps humidity around the cuttings so they do not wilt. Place the pot near a window or light source but not in direct sunlight. Artificial light works well because it also provides heat. Lamps can be left on 24 hours. The warmer the temperature, the faster cuttings will root. Keep soil moist until cuttings are rooted.

I sometimes place plants on a heating pad to increase soil temperature. Ideal soil temperature for rooting is about 70 to 75 degrees.

Remove the plastic when cuttings are rooted. I begin fertilizing as soon as the cuttings are rooted. I start with a half rate of liquid house plant fertilizer. After new leaves start to form on the stems, I move the plants to stronger light. When plants are well established, I fertilize at full rate or apply a time release coated fertilizer such as Osmocote.