Have you seen a beautiful, luscious philodendron while having dinner with your in-laws, or maybe you just saw one through your neighbors’ front windows? Perhaps your plant has become a bit unruly and wild, and you wish to gift your friends their own jungle in a pot.
Either way, you will find yourself with the task of philodendron propagation and with the question: Can I propagate it from just a leaf?
You can’t propagate a philodendron from a leaf because the leaves don’t have the necessary structure. However, you can cut the plant directly under the node (the brown bump on the stem from which the roots will grow) and plant the node on the earth, leaving the leaf above it.
Indoor plants are expensive these days, and you can propagate your philodendron at home without too much fuss. In this article, I will delve deeper into how you can propagate and care for your philodendron.
Propagating a philodendron from stem cuttings consists of two stages; taking the cuttings and rooting them. Let me explain them in more detail:
Two ways of taking stem cuttings are internodal and leaf-bud cutting. The method you choose mainly depends on the type of philodendron you are working with:
People use this cutting for rare or expensive philodendron plants. Since it works with both cuttings with and without leaves, this is a cheaper option when buying a pricier philodendron type.
Cut the stem between two nodes while ensuring your cutting has as little stem as possible under the node itself. This placement is essential because the node will be where the roots grow from, so the rest of the stem under it will rot away.
While cutting, be sure not to cut directly into the node, damaging it in the process.
Leaf bud cutting is used for all philodendron plants and is a fairly straightforward process as follows:
- Cut a plant segment containing a leaf, a bud, and a small part of the stem.
- Do it by cutting a semi-circle on one side of the stem, not cutting too deeply. This care is so the plant will heal itself easier.
- To help with the healing, you can dab a little of your rooting hormone to prevent it from developing fungus.
For the best result with any of these two methods, I recommend you take a few cuttings 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in size. This site will increase your chances of getting healthy new plants.
After taking the cuttings off your philodendron, you can root them in a different medium. The ones used most often are water and soil.
- Put your cuttings in a glass of water, and ensure that at least one node is submerged. Also, make sure the leaves are above the water level.
- Place the glass in a well-lit place, but avoid direct sunlight.
- Change the water every few days.
- The roots should appear in a few weeks.
Although most prefer the water method when propagating a philodendron because it allows them to monitor the root growth, it is not the only option—you can also put your cuttings directly into the soil.
However, I must emphasize that this method might have a lower success rate because of the inability to see the possible rot and react to it fast enough.
- Prepare a planter with drainage holes and fill it with something that offers support and allows drainage, like a mix of potting soil, vermiculite, or orchid bark.
- Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone and place them in the pot with at least one nod under the potting medium, which has to be kept damp at all times.
- Place the planter into bright, indirect sunlight, cover it with plastic to keep the moisture in, and keep the temperature of the earth between 70°F and 75°F (21°C and 24°C).
- If the philodendron has rooted sufficiently, it will be ready to be replanted in about 4 to 6 weeks.
- To ensure the roots have grown, give the plant a gentle tug – if you feel resistance, your cutting is developing as it should.
Since both water and soil rooting come with the risk of rot, some people prefer propagating cuttings in a little finicky, but high-success material options:
- LECA (Lightweight expanded clay aggregate) and perlite – fill the cup two-thirds of the way and add a quarter cup of water. The LECA or perlite will act as a wick keeping your plantlet damp but never too wet.
- Sphagnum Moss – Dip the cutting in the growth hormone, shroud the moist moss around the bottom, and wrap it with cling film.
These materials mentioned above are practically sterile and ensure no bacteria develop on your cutting.
Another propagating technique that works best with philodendrons with a thick stem is called air layering. It deceives your plant into thinking it has to grow roots by covering a node in growth hormone and wrapping it in sphagnum moss and cling film.
In answer to thinking it’s in the soil, the node starts growing roots. Once it has developed enough roots, remove the cling film, cut under the roots, and transfer your plant into its new home.
This method is a surefire way of getting a lot of new plants from your overdeveloped philodendron for no cost.
- The day before dividing, water the soil well to loosen it.
- Uproot the whole plant and pull off the plantlets with their roots.
- If the roots are too tangled, you can use the knife, but make sure every segment has at least one shoot. Replant the plantlets into new and moist potting soil.
The best time to plant or transplant a philodendron is in late spring or early summer, i.e., from mid-May to the end of June.
Philodendron is a perennial plant that requires little care, making it a perfect choice for gardening beginners. Since it’s a tropical plant that’s very sensitive to temperatures and moisture, it can only grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 12 (from Florida and California to Hawaii).
It can’t survive in temperatures lower than 55°F (13°C), but the average room temperature suits it perfectly.
Philodendrons like bright places but don’t do well in direct sunlight. The best place for them would be next to a window covered with an airy curtain or protected by a lush tree canopy when planted outside—too little light results in a leggy plant with sparse foliage.
Philodendrons like airy and light alkaline substrates with a high pH value, rich in nutrients, and good drainage. It doesn’t like soils that dry out too quickly or those that are too rich and hold water for a long time.
While the plants are smaller, you may keep them in little pots or planters, but when fully grown, you need to transplant them into large pots with a substrate mixture of peat, earth, and a little sand.
When growing a philodendron inside, choose a part of your house that is quite spacious because it can grow up to almost 3 meters, but keep in mind that it will take a lot of time to get there because the plant develops only 2 to 3 leaves a year. However, it would be best if you always had the mature height in mind when placing your philodendron.
Ensure the roots are always relatively moist and use lukewarm water for watering. Allow half an inch (15 mm) of the top layer of soil to dry between waterings (between 5 and 6 days), and as soon as you notice water in the substrate under the pot, stop watering. Wash the leaves once a week with a damp sponge.
As the plants grow, they will need support to encourage their growth. You can provide the necessary support by taking the following steps:
- Tie the climbing philodendrons loosely with soft garden twine or thin wire covered with paper to a wooden pole you stuck in the ground.
- To encourage the plant to take hold of the pole with its aerial roots (you will need to tie it this way only at first), attach a 2 to 3-inch (50 mm to 75 mm) layer of moss to it or nail some cork oak bark to it.
- Spray the moss or bark with water once a day. The cane must be tall enough to support the plant when fully grown.
Young plants should be transplanted once a year, in the spring, and the older ones every 2 to 3 years.
During the winter, the philodendron enters a dormant phase during which no significant growth or flowering occurs. Moving the plant away from the heating source and reducing watering is necessary. Also, completely stop fertilizing the plant and monitor the minimum temperature in the room.
It’s no wonder the philodendron is a favorite for all the plant moms and dads around the U.S. because of its low-maintenance nature. It’s easy to take care of and easy to propagate.
Although you can’t reproduce it by simply cutting off a leaf, there are other, quite simple ways to do that. And if you find all of that just not satisfying enough, you can always try growing your philodendron from a seedling and commence your plant parent adventure at the very start.
You may also like:
- Can You Plant Pothos and Philodendron Together?
- Can Philodendron Grow Outside?
- Can Philodendron Grow in Water?
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.