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Starting New Plants

Cuttings - detached plant part will regrow missing parts to form a complete new plant. Method used for most houseplants.

1. Stem Cuttings
  - use short length (3-5") of young, actively growing stem including two or more nodes.
  - rooting media should be moist but not wet.
  - use sharp sand, peat-perlite, vermiculite, or perlite (Geraniums).
  - make a slanting basal cut just below a node, when taking the cutting.
  - use a sharp knife or snap off cleanly.
  - remove all but the top 3-4 leaves as well as all flowers and flower buds.
  - allow the cut surface of Geranium and Cacti cuttings to heal over for a few hours before sticking.
  - rooting hormone may be use on the cut surface but usually isn't necessary.
  - make a hole in the rooting media (pencil or pointed dowel works good).
  - stick the cutting into the media 1/2 to 2/3 its length. No leaves should be below media surface.
  - water slightly.
  - cuttings and container may be enclosed in plastic.
  - if completely enclosed, rewatering should not be necessary.
  - place in good, indirect light with air temperatures between 65 - 72 degrees F.
  - rooted cuttings should be potted when new roots are 1/2 to l inch in length.

2. Cane Cuttings (Dieffenbachia, Chinese Evergreen and similar plants which produce cane-like or leafless stems)

  - use damp sphagnum moss as a media.
  - remove top portion of plant.
  - cut the cane up into sections (logs) 2-3" long; each log should have two buds.
  - top of cane with leaves can be rooted in water.
  - allow the logs to cure or dry out at room temperature for a day or two before placing in media.
  - lay the logs on their sides slightly below the media surface. Plastic may be used.
  - buds on log will break forming roots and stem.

3. Leaf Bud Cuttings - used with plants that are slow to generate a new growing point. Cutting includes a bud where the leaf and stem meet.(Rubber Plant and English Ivy)

  - cut Rubber Plant off a few inches above soil level.
  - cut the remove top into 1-2" sections; each section must include a bud and leaf.
  - split the 1-2" section lengthwise keeping the half (mallet) which contains the bud and leaf.
  - insert the mallet into the media with the bud about 1" below the surface.
  - if not covering with plastic or using a very moist growing chamber, roll the leaf and tie with a rubber band.
  - in 6-8 weeks the mallet will be rooted and the bud growing.

4. Leaf Cuttings - used with plants capable of reproducing a growing point from leaf tissue (African Violets, Gloxinias, Jade Plants and certain Peperomias).

  - remove leaf with or without petiole from stock plant.
  - may want to wound petiole by slitting with a knife (not necessary).
  - rooting hormone can be used if desired (not necessary).
  - insert petiole of leaf-petiole cutting into the media.

  - Jade Plant leaves are laid flat on the media; lower surface must make firm contact with media.
  - may be slow to root and form a new plant. Be patient, as long as the leaf is healthy, everything is fine.
  - when the new plant is 1/2"+, it may be potted up.

5. Leaf Sections - used with Sansieverias and certain Begonias (Rex and Iron Cross).

  - remove Begonia leaf with a short section of the petiole.
  - turn the leaf over and cut the largest veins just above the point where it divides into smaller veins.
  - leaves may also be cut into sections.
  - leaves are laid flat on the media with their lower surface in firm contact with the soil.
  - toothpicks or hairpins can be used to maintain contact.
  - pot up new plants when they are large enough to handle comfortably.

  - remove a long sword-like Sansieveria leaves and divide into 3" sections.
  - insert the base of the Sansieveria cutting into the media.
  - Variegated Sansieveria will not reproduce variegated plants from leaf sections; must use division.

Divisions - quickest way to propagate plants which produce stems at their base; a crown. African Violets, Sansieverias, Aloe, Ferns, and certain Peperomias.

  - remove plant from the pot. Wash or clean root to remove most of the soil from the roots.
  - divide the plant into several pieces by using a knife or just breaking apart.
  - each division must have some roots.
  - immediately pot the divisions.

Runners - prostrate creeping or hanging shoots or stems used to propagate certain plants (Spider Plants and Strawberry Begonias).

  - anchor the plantlet in a small pot of moist rooting media; a hairpin or paper clip works well.
  - when adequate roots have formed (easily checked by giving the plantlet a slight tug), cut the runner from the mother plant.
  - plantlets also root easily if removed from the mother plant and allowed to root in media or water.

Air-layering - useful in shortening certain larger plants which become leggy as well as for propagating almost any hard to root plant (Dieffenbachia, Rubber Tree plant and large leafed Philodendrons).

1. Plants without a solid stem (Dieffenbachias & Philodendrons).

  - choose a point along the stem between two buds.
  - remove leaves from the stem about 3" above and below the point to be rooted.
  - make an upward slanting cut, about a 1/3 through the stem.
  - don't cut too deeply or the main stem may break off.
  - dip or roll a moist wooden toothpick in a rooting hormone.
  - insert the toothpick into the cut on the stem to prevent the cut from closing and heeling.
  - obtain a 12 X 15" piece of plastic and two handfuls of moist spagnum moss.
  - wrap the cut on the stem with moist spagnum moss to form a ball about the size of a grapefruit around the stem.
  - wrap with plastic and seal edges with twistems.
  - check the moss every two weeks during the 8-10 week rooting period to ensure that it is still moist.
  - after a good sized set of root have developed, remove the plastic. Be careful not to damage roots.
  - carefully cut the newly rooted plant from the mother plant.
  - pot plant in a fairly small pot using porous well drained soil.
  - plant will be fairly top heavy and should be supported.
  - water plant in well.

2. Plants with a solid stem (Rubber Tree Plant)

  - choose a point along the stem between two buds; a few inches below an existing leaf.
  - make a horizontal cut around the stem in the spot where you want the new roots to form.
  - cut completely through the bark.
  - make another cut an inch above or below the first cut.
  - then make a vertical cut between the two cuts.
  - peel the bark off between the two original cuts.
  - apply rooting compound to the upper cut surface.
  - continue with instructions for air-layering plants without a solid stem.

Spores - Propagation of Ferns

  - use a media of 2/3 peat and 1/3 perlite or sand.
  - fill container to within 1" of top; moisten media.
  - push spores from lower side of fern fronds onto media surface.
  - place container in a plastic bag. Bottom heat is beneficial.
  - small developing ferns must be kept moist.
  - transplant when young fern can be handled easily.


Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707
E-mail: todd.weinmann@ndsu.edu

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