Master the Art of Growing Philodendrons: Discover 3 Successful Propagation Strategies
Have you ever wished for a full-looking philodendron or a more expansive tropical plant collection? Well, you’re not alone – many plant parents share your dreams. The good news is that this guide will unveil three easy strategies for how to propagate philodendron plants. So grab your gardening gloves and keep reading; your flourishing indoor jungle is just a few scrolls away!
Set Yourself Up for Success!
Before diving into the beautiful world of philodendron propagation, we need to take your plant parenting skills to the next level by reviewing the ideal growing conditions for philodendrons.
Here’s a little bit about what philodendrons require for general care:
- plenty of indirect light,
- moist, well-draining soil, and
- medium humidity with warm temperatures of 65 – 75° Fahrenheit (18 – 24° Celcius).
Of course, each specific variety of philodendron will have its own nuances, and we encourage you to seek that particular information to ensure your plant thrives.
FYI – This step is the AWARENESS part of the three LAWs of successful plant parenting (Lighting, Awareness, Watering). At the Garden Bench Top, we encourage all plant parents to learn to strengthen their gardening skills.
Okay, let’s get our hands dirty with philodendron propagation.
How to Identify the Right Cutting
Let’s start by focusing on choosing the right part of your philodendron.
This is an essential first step.
You want a parent that’s healthy, robust, and free from any diseases or pests.
It may feel counter-intuitive to cut into the healthy parts of your philodendron. However, it will give you the best opportunity for a successful propagation!
Now, let’s look at the cutting. You’re looking for a stem around six inches long with several leaves adorning it.
Single Leaf Cutting
Depending on the variety of philodendrons, you can sometimes get away with taking a shorter cutting with a single leaf. Like the cuttings we took from our Philodendron Brasil’s long vines below.
However, the most essential element of successful philodendron propagation is the presence of a node on the cutting, which leads us perfectly into the next section.
In the plant world, nodes are where all the magic happens – new roots will sprout during propagation!
See if you can spot these nodes on your chosen stem – they’re usually located where leaves meet stems and may have small aerial roots growing already.
Here is a picture of a node from our Philodendron Brasil.
A good rule of thumb is the more nodes on your cutting, the greater the chance of success.
1. How to Propagate Philodendrons with Water
Using water is one of our favorite propagation methods for creating more plants.
Not only is it an easy way to grow your indoor plant collection. It can also be a fun little project to do with your kids!
We like to use glass jars or clear plastic containers as propagation containers because you can see the magic of the roots growing right before your eyes.
Here are the steps we use for propagating philodendrons in water:
- If you are using a stem cutting with multiple leaves. Remove the lower leaves from the cut portion, leaving only 2 to 3 at the top. Make sure no leaves touch the water when submerged.
- Place your cuttings in water. Using a jar filled with room-temperature filtered water ensures the node is entirely submerged. We like to leave the water on the kitchen bench overnight to reach the right room temperature and allow any chlorine to evaporate.
- In line with the information we provided earlier, to increase your plant parent AWARENESS, place your jar in an area with indirect bright light, as direct sunlight can cause too much algae growth, harming your cutting.
- Change the water weekly with clean water to keep it fresh and bacteria-free.
- Wait for roots to grow from the nodes, which usually takes several weeks but can vary depending on conditions and plant variety.
- Once roots are around two inches long or more AND are growing secondary roots (roots growing from the roots), you can transplant your propagated philodendron to the soil.
2. How to Propagate Philodendrons in Soil
Okay, propagating philodendrons in soil may not be as exciting as seeing the roots grow in water.
But you have the added advantage of skipping a step (you don’t have to transplant the cutting once it is rooted), and once a cutting takes to the soil, it has a much higher chance of survival.
So it’s not all bad!
Philodendrons can be propagated in soil in two ways:
Below are the steps we use once you have selected your perfect cutting.
- Prepare Potting Mix: Fill a pot with moist, well-draining soil. We like to use a chunky aroid mixture with large pieces of orchid bark and LECA balls for all our tropical houseplants, such as Monsteras and Philodendrons. You can discover our exact recipe HERE.
- Planting Time! Make a hole in the center of your potting mix about 2 inches deep and place your cutting there, ensuring that at least one leaf node is below soil level.
- Firm It Up: Gently firm up the soil around the cutting so it stands upright.
- Wet & Warm: Water thoroughly to settle the soil and ensure any excess water drains freely from the drainage holes. Then, place your new plant in a warm location with indirect sunlight.
Without Using Cuttings
An alternate method for propagating in the soil is to root your philodendron while it is still attached to the mother plant (versus with cuttings).
We prefer this method because this is generally how philodendrons self-propagate in the wild.
Here are the steps:
- Identify the stem of your philodendron that you wish to propagate.
- Look for a node (the part where leaves and roots sprout out).
- Take a bobby pin, open it up, and gently bend it to a U shape.
- Anchor this section of the stem by gently pushing the ends of the bobby pin into the soil – make sure not to damage any nodes.
- The pinned section should be in contact with the soil but not buried within it.
- Ensure you keep the soil moist to encourage root development – keep it damp but not waterlogged.
- Place your plant pot in indirect sunlight and maintain an appropriate humidity level around your plant.
- Wait patiently for 2-3 weeks (or until new roots develop).
- Once strong new roots have grown, you can cut off this newly rooted section from its parent stem using clean pruning shears or scissors.
- Gently remove the bobby pin from the soil without damaging any new roots that may have formed around it.
3. How to Propagate Philodendrons in Sphagnum Moss
The final method you can use to make more philodendron plant babies is with sphagnum moss.
Sphagnum moss is a beautiful gardening medium with powerful water-retentive properties that can have many uses in the gardening world.
We love to use it when sprouting seeds and cultivating new cuttings.
Below is a detailed step-by-step guide for propagating philodendrons with sphagnum moss:
- Prep the moss: Soak some sphagnum moss in water until thoroughly wet but not dripping excessively. Squeeze out any excess water.
- Plant the cutting: Insert about one-third of your cutting into the damp sphagnum moss and position it to stand upright.
- Create a humid environment: Cover your container with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag and seal it to create humidity, which helps with root formation.
- Lighting and temperature conditions: Keep the container in a warm location (around 70°F or 21°C) with bright indirect light.
- Monitor progress: Watch for signs of growth, such as new leaves forming at the top of the cutting and roots starting to poke out of the moss. This usually happens within 3-4 weeks but can vary depending on conditions.
Once you can confidently identify healthy, robust roots, you can begin to prepare to transplant your rooted cutting to the soil. Which is precisely what we will be exploring in the next section.
When to Transfer Your Cuttings
It’s always exciting when you’re ready to move your philodendron cuttings into soil.
But knowing when it’s the right moment can be tricky if you’re starting out.
No worries, though. We’re here to help!
Here are some signs to keep an eye on:
- Developed Roots: The most telling sign that your cuttings are eager for their new home is well-developed roots. Look for roots at least 1-2 inches long and have a thick white (or light brown) appearance. They are ready to settle down in some soil if they grow lateral roots (secondary roots growing from the primary roots).
- New Leaves: If your cutting has started sprouting new leaves while still in water or sphagnum moss, that’s another great sign that it’s keen to move onto more solid ground.
- Healthy Color: Your cutting should still look vibrant and healthy. Dark green leaves and white roots hint that all systems are go.
Garden Bench Top Tip
Patience is key! It might take a few weeks to see those first roots emerge, but trust us, it’s worth the wait.
Transplanting Philodendron Cuttings to Soil
When the time comes for planting:
- Choose a pot with good drainage.
- Fill it with a chunky potting mixture (or a similar well-draining mixture).
- Make a hole in the middle, pop your cutting in, then gently cover up the roots.
- Water it thoroughly and place it somewhere with bright but indirect light.
If this is the first time you are attempting to pot up cuttings, we recommend following the steps we detailed in our article How to Repot a Philodendron, or watch the video below for some great tips.
Welcome your mini Philo into its new home! Remember, these plants love humidity, so occasionally, give them a little mist.
Happy Plant Parenting! 🍃
- Lateral root. (2023, January 5). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_root