How To Propagate Philodendrons: In Soil, Water, And Other Media

Can’t afford your dream plant? Or maybe you have a gorgeous Philodendron that you want more of, or your Philodendron has gotten a bit leggy, and you need to fix it.

Buying or swapping cuttings is one of the cheapest ways to set up your indoor jungle, so propagation is one of the best ways to do this.

If you already have a Philodendron that’s looking a little sad, propagation may also be the answer: encouraging denser growth on your plant, and creating a backup plant just in case something happens to the original.

Interested in propagating your Philodendron, or raising a brand-new plant from cuttings? Here’s what you need to know. 

How To Take Cuttings From A Philodendron

You can’t just grow a whole new plant from any kind of plant material. 

For Philodendrons, there are two ways of taking cuttings that will grow new plants: through stem cuttings, and node cuttings.

Both methods only take a few minutes when it comes to starting the process, and the hardest thing is waiting for your new cuttings to grow roots!

It doesn’t matter whether your Philodendron is a vine or a self-heading type, both methods will work.

You’ll need some clean secateurs, a sharp knife, or sharp scissors.

One more thing before we start: never take cuttings from a plant without asking permission when the plant is not yours. Especially if the plant is for sale. That’s theft.

Taking Single Node Cuttings

Single node cuttings maximize the number of plants you can get from the original, with them usually measuring about an inch in length, which is why this method is often used by plant sellers for expensive plants.

They are also cheaper to buy than rooted cuttings with leaves, which is a plus if you want to buy them outright.

But you can’t take it from any old part of the stem. It needs to include a node, which is the ‘eye’ on the stem where new growth emerges, and each stem will have several of these.

Node cuttings always include one node and a little of the stem on either side. Some people prefer to include a leaf or two, but this isn’t necessary.

Take a look at the top of your plant, and locate a node. Cut both sides of the stem so that you end up with a chunk about an inch long. It’s worth taking several of these, just in case one doesn’t root.

How To Propagate Philodendrons Through Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings are just as easy to take as node cuttings, though you would usually include at least one leaf per stem.

Don’t include more than a few leaves per stem, as it will take the cutting more energy to support those when it is supposed to be growing roots instead.

You can either make stem cuttings from the very top of the plant (known as a top cutting), or cut those parts into more cuttings, and when they are cut at both ends, these are called mid cuttings.

Again, it’s worth taking several, more than you want to grow, just in case a few of the cuttings don’t make it.

Now you’ve got your cuttings, it’s time to do something to encourage them to grow roots.

How To Propagate Philodendrons In Water

This method is great as it is simple and doesn’t allow the cuttings to dry out, as you put them into the water straight away. As they lose less moisture, they are more likely to root, and you’ll notice as soon as they do.

Stem cuttings grow perfectly well in water, unlike node cuttings, which can be a little tricky, but they can still work (otherwise, propagate node cuttings in sphagnum moss, as they root readily!)

If you have taken stem cuttings, put them in a jar or glass of room-temperature water, somewhere warm and bright.

Make sure that the nodes are underwater, and the leaves are not. The leaves will rot in water, and can even poison the cuttings, so remove any that would sit below the water line.

Do not place your water propagation vessel in direct sunlight, as this can burn the cuttings!

When the roots are about an inch long, it’s time to transfer your new Philodendrons to a soil mix or substrate of your choice. 

How To Propagate Philodendrons In Soil

If you don’t fancy waiting a couple of weeks for the cuttings to grow roots and then having to transfer your Philodendron cuttings to compost, it’s worth putting them straight into the soil!

This isn’t as popular as water propagation, as you can’t see the roots forming, and you’ll only be able to tell if the cuttings have rooted when new growth forms. 

This usually takes longer as the cuttings need to establish some roots first, so this method is not for those who want to see results as soon as possible.

It can also be difficult to keep the soil moist enough to encourage rooting, while not keeping it so wet that the cuttings rot. 

But it gets easier with practice. Here’s how you propagate your cuttings in soil.

  • Grab an appropriately sized container for your cuttings, making sure that it has drainage holes. 
  • You may want a square planter to put each cutting into the corners of the pot, as this will help keep them upright.
  • Fill it with compost suitable for Philodendrons, which means it needs to have good drainage, lots of oxygen, and plenty of nutrients.
  • If you have any rooting hormone, now’s the time to use it on the cut ends of your cuttings. This will help encourage rooting a little faster.
  • Use a pencil or something similar to guide your cuttings into the soil, and this will stop the stems from breaking.
  • Make sure that the node is under the soil’s surface, and that the cuttings are deep enough so that they can stand up on their own.
  • Lightly water the soil, avoiding watering the tops of the stems.  
  • If you have a clear plastic bag or a propagator lid, put this over the top of your cuttings to increase humidity and warmth, making sure that you use something else to hold it up rather than the cuttings themselves (such as bamboo chopsticks or orchid stakes).
  • Put the whole thing somewhere warm and bright, but away from direct sunlight. Air out the pot for a few hours every couple of days, and keep the soil lightly damp.
  • Once you see new growth on your cuttings, the plants have rooted, and you can leave off the bag or lid. You can also start watering your Philodendron plants more regularly, too.
  • Once they look big enough to withstand their own pots, pot them up separately. 

How To Air Layer Philodendrons

Air layering is a great propagation method for Philodendrons, as you don’t have to cut anything off the plant, keeping it large and lovely.

It’s generally more successful, as the only time you do cut the plant is when the new plants have already formed roots.

Take some moist sphagnum moss, some plastic wrap, a couple of toothpicks, and a sharp knife that’s been cleaned.

Decide where you want this new plant to form along the stem, and make a cut into the stem at a 30° angle, making the cut about an inch or two long.

Do not cut all the way through. Cut about a third into the stem, and use your toothpick to keep the wound open.

Wrap around the cut with damp sphagnum moss, and secure it with plastic wrap, covering it completely. You’ll want to open it up occasionally to check if the moss is drying out, and if it is, spray it liberally with water.

Roots should form within a few weeks, and at this point, you can plant it up as a new Philodendron.

Propagating Philodendrons In Sphagnum Moss, LECA, Or Perlite

Maybe you’re not a fan of propagating in compost. It doesn’t work for everyone. Or maybe you’re not a fan of growing houseplants in compost full stop, but you still want to propagate your plants.

Compost can be tricky when it comes to cuttings if you can’t get the moisture levels right, and the cutting will either stop growing or rot completely, depending on if it’s too dry or too wet, and the bacteria in the soil can make things worse.

Most cuttings can be rooted in the likes of perlite, sphagnum moss, and LECA if you are careful about it.

Propagating in sphagnum moss is one of the best ways to ensure that your cuttings work, especially for those rare, expensive cuttings that you don’t want to lose, but you can use a different media of your choice, too.

Propagating Using LECA

LECA is fairly easy to propagate with, but you’ll need to make sure that the clay balls are hydrated, otherwise, it won’t work.

Soak the LECA overnight in tepid water, tipping out the water and any clay dust that comes with it. Replace the water and repeat for another two days.

Then tip out the water entirely and use the LECA straight away. Put the clay balls into a plastic see-through cup, fill the bottom quarter with water, and put the cuttings in there.

The LECA acts as a wick and will give the new cuttings just enough moisture to root, provided that you don’t use more water than this.

Propagating Using Perlite

You can also propagate your cuttings in straight perlite. Make sure the perlite is damp, and fill a pot with drainage holes. 

Insert the cuttings deep enough so that they can stand on their own, and keep them lightly moist. This method works well for stem cuttings.

Propagating With Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum moss will drastically reduce the weight time for some cuttings to root. It’s also worth using sphagnum moss as it provides a humid environment with plenty of air.

You’ll need to hydrate the moss before you use it. Put a couple of handfuls in a tray of tepid water for about five minutes, and then squeeze out the excess water with your fingers.

If you have a tray with a clear lid, put the moss on the potting and the cuttings on top, making sure that the nodes have good contact with the moss.

Keep the moss slightly damp, spraying it every so often so it doesn’t dry out, and keep the lid on to increase humidity.

You can also lay the moss into a clear ziplock bag, put the cuttings on top, and then seal it if you prefer.

Final Thoughts

Propagating Philodendrons doesn’t have to be hard. To make sure your cuttings are successful, don’t let them dry out completely, and keep them lightly damp somewhere bright and indirect.

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