Mr D has taken to calling me “greeny fingers”, in amongst his armoury of pet names for me. The reason being that over the past 6 months or so I’ve developed a rapid and all-encompassing love of houseplants. So fixated have I become that it’s threatening to bankrupt us so I figured I’ve learned enough to start propagating houseplants instead and thought I’d document it here in case anything actually comes of it. It may be the case that there’s never a follow-up to this blog post and no roots ever take but hey, so much of being a plant parent comes down to trial and error I think it’s worth trying.
Despite the fact that I’m a very good animal Mum, I’ve always treated plants like inanimate objects. I assumed I could just buy them, plonk them in a pot, water them once every 6 months and they’d thrive. Basically a piece of furniture, just a bit prettier. I didn’t know there were health benefits, or that different plants need different amounts of water/light/humidity, or that some are more fickle than others and even just moving them slightly can cause them to collapse in a planty version of histrionics.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been ill or because I’ve had a bit more time on my hands but I started bringing more houseplants into our home and taking my time to work out their needs. With a couple of exceptions most of them seem to be thriving, despite it not really being the growing season just yet. So much so that when I mention looking for more plants, Pete asks “don’t we have enough now?”
Since it can be a pretty costly habit to adopt, I’ve decided that propagating houseplants needs to be the way forward. I’ve got a few established, happy specimens like my Pothos, Dwarf Schefflera, Monstera Deliciosa and Pilea to try and get me off the ground. I will also let you into a little secret that I’ve tried propagating houseplants before, but it was a disaster because again, I didn’t learn enough first. I tried my rapidly growing String of Hearts and cut two babies from my Pilea but everything died. So I’ve learned to be more patient, do my research and treat them with the same love I do Boo and Maddie.
Now, since I’m only just starting out on this I’m afraid I can’t advise of a failsafe method. There are lots of YouTube videos out there, blog posts and Instagram accounts which are so helpful to learn about propagating houseplants and which is where I’ve done all my research. Some plants (such as the Snake plant) you may be able to create extra ones simply by separating them which is what I’ve done with mine, taking one plant and making three from it.
In other cases, taking cuttings and placing them in water is the best way to try and grow new plants. Given the right conditions, hopefully depending on the type of cutting you should see roots emerging anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks after placing in water.
As far as propagating houseplants goes, it’s important to take the cutting from the right place. Again, YouTube is invaluable for advice especially if you’re not familiar with terminology. I’ve taken a cutting from my Dwarf Schefflera for example, which advises that the best attempt is made from a relatively new leaf, cutting the stem as close to the main plant as possible, but then also cutting each leaf in half horizontally so that more energy is channelled towards growing the roots rather than feeding the substantial leaves.
For my Pilea (Chinese Money Plants), I’ve got one baby that I’ve cut from the main plant, and I’m also trying a leaf – said to be less successful but I decided to try it nonetheless. Pothos are meant to be very easy and from one long vine you can get around 6 to 8 leaves. Last but by no means least for propagating houseplants I’m attempting my Monstera Deliciosa which needs to be cut ideally to include a couple of leaves and one node.
For propagating you can use any small vessel, a jam jar, old candle holder, and you can even buy pretty propagation stations online fairly inexpensively. I bought mine from a local independent plant shop here in southeast London but I noticed from the label it’s actually from Grand Illusions. The cuttings should be placed into water, in a bright room but away from direct sunlight and drafts. Water needs to be changed every 2-3 days to ensure it remains oxygenated and allows the cuttings the best chance of rooting.
There we have it – the start of my propagating houseplants journey! Please keep everything crossed that this works because I love how pretty it all looks on the dining room mantel piece and I’m hoping they thrive. Hopefully I’ll be back with an update post in a couple of week’s time