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Share your houseplants

This article was originally published on December 4, 2013 and expired on January 4, 2014. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

News source/writer: Rhonda J. Ferree, 309-543-3308, ferreer@illinois.edu

URBANA, Ill. – Are your houseplants overgrown or leggy and in need of renovation or repotting? Or do you wish you had more of your favorite varieties?

"Houseplants make great gifts and are fun to share with family and friends. Many kinds of houseplants are easily propagated using a number of easy techniques," said Rhonda Ferree, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

"To get started, you'll need containers, a sterile cutting tool, soil, and a makeshift greenhouse. The container could be anything. I often use disposable cups. Use a good, sterile rooting media that is pre-moistened," she said.

Ferree suggests purchasing a premixed potting soil.

For best results, create a "greenhouse" for the new plants to grow in until they are well established. Ziploc bags or small plastic zipper bags that curtains come in make good temporary greenhouses, she noted. Place your new plant starts in indirect light, opening the bag slightly to provide ventilation without losing humidity inside the bag.

"Division is the easiest way to propagate houseplants that form clumps such as ferns, mother-in-law's tongue, African violets, spider plants, philodendron, pothos, and more," she said. "Simply knock the plant out of its pot and pull the sections apart with your hands. Tough roots sometimes must be cut apart with a kitchen knife. Repot the divisions immediately, add water, and watch your 'new' plants grow."

Some plants produce their own baby plants. Strawberry begonias and spider plants produce miniature plants at the end of long stems. After some time, you will see little root-like structures form on these new plant parts. When that happens, simply remove the plantlet and place it in a pot, making sure to get good soil-to-root contact.

For plants that do not form natural divisions or new baby plants, cuttings can be used. Cuttings are very simple and can be done a number of ways, Ferree said.

Stem cuttings from the ends of branches can produce roots and develop a new plant. Simply remove 3 or 4 inches of the terminal or end growth just below a node (leaf joint). Some common plants that can be started this way are coleus, geranium, ivy, begonia, and many of the philodendrons. Insert the node of a stem into loose potting soil, water, and watch it grow.

More information about houseplants is available online from U of I Extension at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/houseplants.

Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture & State Master Naturalist Coordinator, ferreer@illinois.edu

Pull date: January 4, 2014

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