Multiplying House Plants

If you put your houseplants outside for the summer you will soon have to bring them back in if you live in an area like I do that gets frost and temperatures below 32F. You may notice that they have grown larger or longer (in the case of trailing plants) over the summer and may have overgrown the house space they were previously in. Many can be trimmed back without harming or disfiguring them. And the nice thing is, you can actually do something with many parts you trim off. This would be called propagation by cuttings. In other words, you can reproduce the plant you love, making more just like it. It’s fairly easy and inexpensive.


For example, philodendrons and pothos are great plants to try this on. Try making a ‘tip cutting’ by removing the very end of a trailing stem 4-6” long, making sure you have at least one node (point where a leaf is or was attached to a stem) on your cutting and one or two leaves. Make the cut with a sharp knife or pruners just below the node. Dip this part in rooting hormone powder (optional/you may purchase this in the garden section of a store) which helps stimulate and speed up root development. Now place your cutting in a small vase or jar of water to which you have added some diluted liquid houseplant food (follow the directions on the label); or ‘stick’ the cutting in a small pot of moistened lightweight potting soil. Approximately 1-2” of the stem containing a node from which you made the cut should be below the water or soil line. Place your cutting in a bright location and keep soil moist and or the water level filled.
You should see roots start to grow in a about 2 weeks and the plant should be ready to transplant into a large pot in about six weeks when it has a good root system. Your new plant will grow into the exact plant as its ‘mother’ or ‘stock’ plant. When this happens, congratulate yourself on being a successful plant propagator! This is just one way to reproduce plants so that you will have more to care for or more to share with someone else.

PothosMaking Pothos Tip Cutting
Pothos Tip Cutting'Sticking' Pothos Cutting

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About Debi

I live in Leesburg, Virginia where I teach high school students in the Agriculture Department. Additionaly, I am self-employed as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer. "Beefriend the Bees!" and "Neither Here Nor There" are children's books I wrote and illustrated available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Deborah Chaves&x=12&y=25. Other interests include singing and playing my guitar (also have a CD for sale on Amazon called "Gardening Therapy"); walking my American Bulldog, Cloud and Olde English Bulldogge, Sky; staying active in my local church, and blogging on the www.thedailylily.com.

11 thoughts on “Multiplying House Plants

  1. Thanks Debi, for the tips on propagation. I see great spiritual parallels here between the propagating of plants and propagation of the Faith in which we believe. The pruning back for more growth, the keeping moist (with the washing of the water of the Word) and the reproduction of more souls for the Kingdom, and the congratulations we will receive from the Lord when those who have come through our plantings and waterings will meet us in Heaven. Lots more comparisons. Good Bible study!!

  2. Debi, I sure love green plants. I love it when others do the work. This is way over my head. Good info. for those that have this skill.

  3. Thanks for sharing the good spiritual parallels MG.

    And Sara I appreciate your love of green plants because it has often been an inspiration to me and has brought joy to many. And I loved hearing you tell me about the many plants your mother had and how she shared ‘slips’ of them with others

  4. Debi, you are so right about my Mother and my love for green plants and blooms alike. That is one of the reasons I love having you in my life. Because you are the face of the blooming and green of God’s earth.

  5. Debi, I am so glad we have people like you, who can help “beautify” God’s world, with the glorious flowers and plants He allowed. Thank God, you use your talent/gift, and share it with others.
    I have a question for you. I have lantana’s in my flower beds, am I suppose to cut them back, for the winter, or just leave them be?

  6. My friend in Alabama tells me all the time that indoor plants help with the damage that fluorescent lighting might cause. She is always encouraging me to get more and more into my classroom. Do you know if this is true?

    By the way I’m nursing a walking iris I got in North Carolina. I sure hope it makes it in this cold climate as I killed all the ones I brought with me from Louisiana. Thinks for the tips.

  7. Needles I would not prune it back. Depending upon which variety you have it may or may not be hardy in your area and overwinter. At the end of winter, just prior to spring, I would cut back 1/2 way. Hope it comes back for you! I love its fruity aroma.
    Rena, I don’t know the answer to your question about flourescent bulbs. I wonder what kind of damage florescent lights cause and does the kind of bulb matter? I do know that NASA has done studies which show that houseplants clean the air indoors by removing/absorbing pollutants.
    I believe walking iris is not hardy in your area so to be safe, I would bring the pots in this winter and then set out in the spring again to enjoy.

  8. I have read that”Danger: Walking Irises..All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.” Not sure if this would apply to your doggie or not but I would check it out.

  9. That’s really good advice Sara. Thanks.
    There are a lot of plants that are toxic to dogs and other animals especially if they ingest them. Seems wise to find out something about the plants you have in house or yard if you have a pet that would eat or chew on plants.
    I found a website that lists and shows pictures of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats and horses. You can also do a plant search on this site if you are unsure. http://www.aspca.org

  10. Thanks for the advice. I checked out the site recommended and the iris and a number of my outdoor flowers are dangerous to JD who likes anything that comes in contact with his mouth. Thanks again.

  11. Wow, I am glad that Sara put out the warning about toxic plants to doggies. We know that JD is a Champion Chomper and we would want that little cutie to stay healthy.

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