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Caring for Houseplants - Houseplants - University of Illinois Extension

Vegetative Propagation of Houseplants


Nearly any container can be used for propagating plants as long as it is clean and free of disease. A clear, one-gallon food storage bag works well, too.

Use sharp cutting tools such as a pocket-knife, razor blade or clippers. They should be sterilized before and between each cut by dipping in denatured alcohol.

A suitable rooting media will provide support and enough water and oxygen to the root zone. It is very important to begin with clean, disease-free media. Coarse sand, peat moss, perlite vermiculite or a combination of these materials works well.

Although some plants such as ivy and philodendron will root easily in water, we do not recommend doing this. Roots that develop in water are often weak and do not adapt as easily to potting mix as those that were formed in rooting media.

Rooting hormones are available from garden supply stores. These are chemical substances that increase the rooting percentage of many plants. A rooting hormone tends to shorten the time needed for rooting and often increases the quality and quantity of roots that form. Many houseplants root so easily on their own that rooting hormones are not important. For more difficult-to-root species, rooting hormones would be helpful. The powdered form is good because it is diluted with talc and ready for use. Follow the directions on the package.

Enclosing the propagation container in plastic, clear glass or using intermittent misting will help to increase the surrounding humidity.

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