To Propagate or not to Propagate?

Back in the 2000’s and the early doors of the internet, a music lover’s perfect paradise became available. A site called Napster appeared and presented the impossible dream of the user being able to download any song they could possibly want to hear. Trawl your mind, press a button and there it was to listen to at your pleasure on your shiny shiny iPod. The options endless, the selections infinite, only limited by the imagination and more in my case the memory.

Options were limitless and a place where, wanting to listen to the only decent song on an entire album didn’t cost you twenty quid. Nevertheless (and rightly so), this place proved to be illegal and was removed from the music lover’s download options.

The house plant world presents us with a similar Aladdin’s cave of possibilities where we can in theory propagate, nurture and grow any plant that we choose or takes our fancy. With the simple act of taking a clipping and with a few growing techniques create our own version of any beautiful house plant.

Propagation is the process of breeding plants using specimens from the parent stock. A process not limited to or limited by any plant. All plants are in scope, and so the Napster like possibilities apply here, or do they?

Here at Pretty Green HQ, our experimentation with propagation has been a frustrating tale of failure. I will spare you the case for the defence, but think the prosecution has a point with a distinct lack of patience being the primary cause. Nevertheless, we have had some recent success. The ever-popular Devils Ivy has flourished, but this is a hollow victory considering the Devil’s Ivy is so called due to it being a fierce survivor and tricky to kill.

Not to be deterred and with a slapped hand every time I go near the ‘propagation area’ I can report some success. Cuts taken from our Monstera and Philodendron plants are beginning to show discernible roots. The process is agonisingly simple, so I’m delighted with this progress, although it’s where to leave the junior plants to grow that can be the tricky part.

From a healthy and well-established plant, the process we followed was by selecting a branch and a couple of leaves down, just below the ariel root or leaf branch node, take a cutting using a sharp knife and slice at a 45-degree angle. Using the jam jar, you always wondered why you kept, fill it with water (tap water is fine) and place the cutting in it. The node should be submerged with the leaves not in contact with the water.

Where you leave the plant to grow is not necessarily where you would leave the mature version. A bright place avoiding direct sunshine would be ideal, but in our homes where the window sill it just about the only bright place we have, perhaps just underneath would be where the best results can be achieved. Here the waiting begins. Change the water every few days, but otherwise relax and ignore.

The Devils Ivy, took a couple of weeks before roots began to show, another month and the roots were over an inch long. The Monstera meanwhile, was showing after three weeks and continues to grow. Roots between one and a half inch to two inches long are perfect to plant in a terracotta pot with fertilised soil. Thereafter the genius of nature will continue and the plant become everything you hoped for. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

So, to propagate or not to propagate? Give it a go I say, you can’t lose!

By Jules