5 Easy Steps to Successfully Propagate Philodendron

Learn how to propagate Philodendron in 5 easy steps: Choose the right variety, prepare materials, take cuttings, root in water/soil, transplant.

Introduction to Philodendron Propagation

Philodendrons are popular houseplants because they are low maintenance and able to thrive indoors. To propagate philodendron means producing new plants from cuttings of an existing plant. The key to successfully propagate philodendron is using the correct techniques and providing the right conditions for the new cuttings to develop roots.

There are over 200 species of philodendrons to choose from for propagation. The two most common types, Philodendron scandens and Philodendron selloum, are easy to propagate and ideal for beginners. To propagate philodendron, start with a healthy parent plant and consider which attributes you want to propagate. Then, gather propagation supplies like rooting hormone, sharp and clean gardening shears, containers, and well-draining rooting medium.

With some basic knowledge and patience, you can have great success propagating your favorite philodendron plants. The new baby plants can be shared with friends or used to fill your own living space with greenery. Propagating philodendron is a rewarding skill that allows you to multiply your plant collection for free.

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Step 1: Choose the Right Philodendron Variety

There are many philodendron varieties suitable for propagation. The two most popular types are Philodendron scandens, commonly known as heartleaf philodendron, and Philodendron selloum or tree philodendron.

The heartleaf philodendron Philodendron scandens has dark green, heart-shaped leaves and a climbing habit. It propagates easily and grows vigorously, making it an ideal choice for beginners. New plants can be trained on a moss pole or allowed to trail.

The tree philodendron Philodendron selloum has large, lobed leaves on a sturdy trunk, giving it a small tree-like appearance. Although it grows at a slower rate, its cuttings root readily and it tolerates a wide range of conditions. The mature plants can reach up to 15 feet in height, so it requires significant space.

Other options include the ruffled Philodendron gloriosum, the split-leaf Philodendron bipinnatifidum, the velvet-leaf Philodendron micans and the colorful cultivars like ‘Pink Princess’ and ‘Prince of Orange’. The specific variety you choose depends on the look you want, the space you have and your level of experience.

For new propagators, it is best to start with a few cuttings of different varieties in case some fail. Always take cuttings from healthy parent plants and provide ideal conditions for the best success rates. With the right technique and care, philodendron propagation can be quite rewarding.

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Step 2: Prepare the Propagation Materials

To successfully propagate philodendrons, you will need the proper materials and equipment. The basic supplies for philodendron propagation include:

Sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors: Sterilize the blades with isopropyl alcohol to avoid transferring disease to the cuttings.

Rooting hormone powder (optional): Although not always necessary, rooting hormone can speed up root development. Look for a powder that contains indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) or indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).

Containers for rooting: You can root philodendron cuttings in either water or a well-draining rooting medium. For water rooting, use a glass jar or vase. For rooting in media, use a pot with drainage holes or a seedling tray.

Rooting medium (if not using water): A mixture of 1 part perlite and 1 part peat moss or a commercial potting mix formulated for rooting cuttings. The medium should be moist but not soggy.

Plastic bags or plastic sheeting: Covering cuttings with plastic helps retain humidity, especially for the first few days after planting. Ventilate after roots form.

Stakes and twist ties (optional): Stakes provide support for top-heavy cuttings. Twist ties or string securely attach the cuttings to the stakes.

Labels: Label each container with the philodendron variety and date of propagation for easy identification. This helps avoid confusion if rooting several types of cuttings.

Using the appropriate materials and providing the right environment will lead to successful philodendron propagation. Monitor your cuttings regularly and make adjustments as needed based on how the cuttings are developing.

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Photo by Sara Erasmo / Unsplash

Step 3: Take Cuttings from the Parent Plant

Once you have gathered your propagation supplies and selected a suitable philodendron, it is time to take cuttings from the parent plant.

Choose a healthy, mature philodendron with several sturdy stems to propagate. Using a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears, cut 4 to 6-inch stem sections with at least 2 leaves attached. Make the cut just below a leaf node, where a leaf joins the stem.

For vining philodendrons like heartleaf and fiddle leaf philodendrons, select stems that have aerial roots growing along nodes. The aerial roots will readily form roots once placed in soil or water. For self-heading types like selloum, the stems you choose for propagation should have healthy leaves but not yet have a fully formed root system.

Carry out cuttings in the morning when the plant has the most moisture. Immediately after cutting, dip the end of the stems in rooting hormone (optional but recommended) and insert into your rooting vessel, such as a vase for water propagation or a pot with well-draining rooting medium for soil propagation.

Change the water every 3-5 days for water rooting and keep the potting mix slightly damp but not soggy. Place in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Covering the container with plastic and ventilating once roots form will help raise the humidity, accelerating root growth.

Most philodendron cuttings will develop roots in 4 to 8 weeks. Check for root growth before planting to avoid disturbing new roots. When roots are several inches long, it is time for transplantation. Provide more details, by posting another article about Methods for Propagating Philodendrons By Cuttings: Water vs Soil Rooting.

Choose a healthy parent plant, make the right cuts, provide ideal conditions, and new philodendron plants will soon be growing roots and thriving. With regular moisture and care, newly propagated philodendrons will establish quickly and produce a flush of new growth.

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Step 4: Root the Cuttings in Water or Soil

After taking cuttings from the parent philodendron, the next step is rooting the cuttings in either water or a well-draining rooting medium. Each method has its pros and cons, so choose the one that best suits your needs and experience level.

Water Rooting

For water rooting, place the cuttings in a jar or vase filled with distilled water or rainwater. Change the water every 3-5 days and rinse the cuttings with each water change. Roots should form in 1 to 2 months. Once the cuttings have developed roots 2 to 4 inches long, they can be potted up.

Water rooting does not require rooting hormone or specialized equipment. It allows you to see root growth easily. However, water-rooted cuttings tend to go through a transition period after potting up where growth slows for a short period. Pay close attention to moisture levels as the young roots establish in the potting mix.

Soil Rooting

For rooting in potting mix, fill seedling trays or pots with a rooting medium and insert the cuttings, dipping the end of the cuttings in rooting hormone first. Place in a warm area out of direct sun. Water lightly to moisten the mix and cover with plastic to retain humidity.

Ventilate after a few days and check that the mix remains slightly damp but not soggy. Roots should form within 4 to 8 weeks. Gently lift out a few cuttings to check for root growth before potting up. Soil-rooted cuttings tend to transition to pots more quickly after potting.

Soil rooting requires more equipment and expertise but produces cuttings ready to pot up faster. The cuttings can go longer between waterings but are more prone to rot if overwatered. Choose a method based on your needs and level of confidence in propagation. With the proper technique and aftercare, philodendron cuttings will root and establish successfully either in water or potting mix.

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Photo by Olena Shmahalo / Unsplash

Step 5: Transplant the Propagated Philodendron

Once the cuttings have developed a healthy root system several inches long, it is time to transplant them into pots. For water-rooted cuttings, carefully remove them from the vase. Gently shake or rinse off excess water. For soil-rooted cuttings, lift them out of the rooting medium carefully to avoid breaking roots.

Choose a pot one size larger than the root system, usually a 4 to 6-inch pot for most philodendron cuttings. Fill the bottom 1/3 with fresh, well-draining potting mix. Create a hole in the center and place the rooted cutting, backfilling the mix around the roots. Bury the stem up to the point where roots begin.

Water thoroughly after potting and place in a warm area out of direct sun. The potting mix should dry out slightly between waterings. Water less frequently than for established plants. New roots need moisture to grow but too much water can cause root rot.

Fertilize the newly potted philodendrons after a few weeks of growth. Use a balanced fertilizer at half the recommended strength. Increase to full strength once new growth begins and the plants show signs of establishment.

For the first season after potting up, philodendrons require shade and warm conditions as their roots establish in the pot. Bring potted plants indoors before nighttime temperatures drop below 55 F. Once the plants are thriving in their pots and producing new leaves, they can be moved to a sheltered location outdoors after the last frost.

With the right aftercare, your new propagated philodendrons will flourish and bring you enjoyment for many years as their lush foliage enhances your indoor and outdoor spaces. Pat yourself on the back for your successful propagation! The new plants are ready to share or add to your own collection.

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