Spotted a beautiful Philodendron at a friend’s house or a restaurant that you’d like for your home? Or has your own Philodendron houseplant grown a bit unruly? Propagation is the answer! Philodendron propagation is an easy way to get more plants for free.
Let’s go into propagating Philodendron, how to make sure your cutting roots and how to care for your brand new plant.
Taking a Philodendron cutting
Have you found a Philodendron houseplant you’d like to propagate? To start, you’ll have to take a cutting to grow a brand new plant from. There are many different types of plants in this genus, both vining and climbing. Luckily, the basics for taking a cutting are the same for all of them!
All you need to take a Philodendron cutting are some clean gardening shears (although a knife or kitchen scissors work fine in most cases too). Cut a piece off the mother plant in the desired spot and, optionally, cut this clipping into smaller pieces after. Voilà, that’s your cutting!
There are different types of cuttings you can take, depending on your own preferences:
Philodendron node cuttings
You technically only need a tiny piece of stem, no more than an inch (2.5 cm) or so, for Philodendron propagation. As long as the piece includes a node, a bump on the stem that roots or leaves can grow from, it’s possible to grow a brand new plant.
The above is referred to as node propagation. It’s often done with rare and expensive types of Philodendron, as you can obtain a small node cutting from a seller for a lower price than a larger cutting that includes leaves. If you’re not paying a premium for your Philodendron cuttings, though, I recommend going for a larger cutting just to make the process easier and faster.
After all, node cuttings can take ages to root and you start out with a tiny plant!
Philodendron stem cuttings
If at all possible, starting out with a cutting that has both one or multiple nodes as well as 2-3 leaves is preferable. The leaves allow for photosynthesis to occur more efficiently, which can really speed up the process!
You can take a stem cutting anywhere. If you decide to simply behead your mother plant, that’s referred to as a top cutting. Don’t worry, she will regrow just fine. If you decide to divide the top cutting into multiple pieces, so that there are cuttings that have a cut both at the top and bottom, those are called mid cuttings.
Whatever you go for, once you’ve got your cuttings, it’s time to choose a propagation method. Will you be rooting the cutting in water, soil or something else?
Philodendron propagation in water
Got your cuttings? Great! Unless we’re dealing with a node cutting, which are a bit difficult to position well for rooting in this manner, just popping them in a glass of water is usually a great method to grow a new plant.
To propagate Philodendron in water, all you have to do is:
- Fill a glass or vase with clean water.
- Stick the cutting in the glass in a way that ensures at least one node is underwater. This is where the roots will be growing from. The leaves should not be submerged.
- Place the glass in a spot in the home that gets bright but indirect light. Direct sun is a bit harsh and can heat the water too much.
- Be patient! You’ll be able to see the roots grow in real time. The first roots usually pop up after a few weeks. Change the water every few days.
- Once the roots are an inch or two (~5 cm) long, you can opt to plant your brand new, rooted Philodendron in soil. You can also leave it in water as long as you’d like.
It’s that simple! I especially like the water propagation method for vining Philodendrons, like Philodendron scandens or micans. They really root very easily in water.
Philodendron propagation in soil
Can’t be bothered to root your cutting in water first and then have to plant it in soil? You don’t actually have to. Cuttings can be placed directly in soil, it’s just that a lot of houseplant enthusiasts appreciate the aesthetic of water propagation and being able to see the roots grow.
Keep in mind that growing directly in soil means that you won’t be able to see whether your propagation attempt was successful until the first new leaves pop up on the cutting. I also have to mention that for me personally, my success rate is a bit lower if I use soil. I tend to have trouble getting the cutting to root before it shrivels away from lack of moisture.
If you’d like to root directly in soil, here’s how you do it:
- Find a planter with a drainage hole and fill it with a soil type appropriate for aroids like Philodendron. You’ll want something light and airy, with good drainage.
- Bonus step: dip the cutting in some rooting hormone. This can speed up the rooting process.
- Stick the cutting into the soil in such a way that at least one node is covered. Lightly moisten the soil, but don’t overdo it. Your cutting doesn’t have roots yet, after all.
- Bonus step: place the planter with the cutting in a propagator or make a budget version yourself using a clear plastic bag. This keeps in some warmth and humidity, which these tropicals appreciate.
- Find a spot that receives bright but indirect light and leave the cutting there to do its thing. Keep the soil lightly moist while you wait.
- It’s perfectly possible for the cutting to take on a bit of a sad appearance while it works on rooting. It’s unable to take up water right now, after all.
- See new foliage appearing? Congrats, you can be pretty sure that a root system has established and your brand new Philodendron is in the clear! If you had it in a propagator or bag, you can now take it out.
Philodendron propagation in moss, leca or perlite
Not all houseplant enthusiasts like to root their Philodendron cuttings in water or soil. Both come with a somewhat elevated risk of rot: water can turn a cutting snotty in unlucky cases. Unless it’s sterilized, soil can contain bacteria that may get into the cut area and wreak havoc.
So what can you do? Say you have an expensive cutting, or one that’s very dear to you? There are a few rooting media that are considered low-risk. A bit more of a hassle, and I don’t personally bother unless I’m worried about a cutting, but they do work quite well.
This growing medium isn’t technically sterile, but it does offer a great environment for rooting a cutting. You can easily moisten it to just the ideal humidity level.
For Philodendron propagation in sphagnum moss, just run water over your moss until it’s damp but not dripping. Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone if you have it on hand. Then wrap the moss around the bottom of the cutting and place a ziplock bag around it to make an easy mini greenhouse.
Another option that works well, especially for node cuttings, is to fill a propagator with damp sphagnum moss. You can just lay the cuttings on top of the moss and pop a heat mat underneath if you have one. Spray the sphagnum whenever it shows signs of drying. The perfect rooting environment! Once the cuttings have rooted, you can transfer them to normal aroid soil.
Perlite & LECA
Propagating in perlite or LECA works much the same as the above, with the difference being the fact that these media don’t take up as much moisture as moss. On the other hand, they are sterile, making them great if you’re worried about bacterial growth.
To root your cuttings in perlite or LECA, you can fill a baggie or cup (without drainage hole) about 2/3 of the way. Then fill it about 1/4 of the way with water and pop the cutting in there. The medium will wick the water right up to the cutting, providing just the right amount of moisture.
As always, it can help to place the cutting in a propagator. Or even fill the whole propagator with perlite or LECA and do it that way! If you like a method, just experiment a bit with it to figure out what works best for you.
Philodendron propagation through air layering
Did you know there’s a propagation technique that doesn’t start out with taking a cutting? It’s called air layering and it’s normally used for woody trees and other difficult-to-root species. However, it’s also a fantastic, very low-risk Philodendron propagation method.
Air layering involves tricking your plant into growing roots on a stem before you cut it, rather than afterward. It works best on thick-stemmed Philodendrons. Vining varieties aren’t great candidates, but that’s okay, as those root fine in water.
To try, select a spot on the stem where you’d like to make the cut later. Find a node nearby and cover it in rooting hormone. Then, wrap it with damp sphagnum moss and wrap with cling film to keep everything in place. The node will assume it has touched soil and start producing roots as a result.
Check regularly whether the moss is still lightly damp. Once plenty of roots have grown, you can remove it and cut the stem right below. You’ve now got a pre-rooted Philodendron cutting ready to pop into some nice aroid soil to keep growing!
Caring for your Philodendron houseplant
Have you managed to successfully root your Philodendron cuttings? Awesome. Now, all you have to do is provide normal Philodendron care to make sure it thrives. This is a tropical genus, so it appreciates bright but indirect light, warmth and humidity. It dislikes standing water.
Here are a few articles to get you started:
If you have any questions about Philodendron propagation or if you want to share your own tips and tricks, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.