How to Propagate Philodendron Plants

Philodendron plants are fast-growing aroids of the Araceae family that are native to tropical regions of the West Indies and America.

They thrive in tropical rainforests, swamps, and on river banks in various parts of the world.

These attractive, easy-to-grow tropical plants include a wide range of types, including the ever-popular heartleaf philodendron and the intriguing philodendron selloum, commonly called the tree philodendron.

Philodendron plants are incredibly easy to propagate, grow, and maintain. Propagation is particularly simple with philodendron cuttings.

In this blog post, we will explore several methods on how to propagate philodendron plants.


For more ideas on the different types of philodendron plants, read more in our related post:


Methods for propagating philodendron plants

There are several easy methods for propagating philodendrons. These include propagation from herbaceous tips or stem cuttings and layering processes, specifically air and compound layering.

If you already have philodendrons, you can also propagate new plants from offsets.

Tip layering and mound or stool layering are methods more commonly used to propagate fruits like raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, and apple rootstocks.

Be aware that some types of philodendrons respond better to one method than the other.

Ideal conditions for propagating philodendron

Ideal-Conditions-For-Propagating-Philodendron

Light is a particularly important environmental factor when propagating philodendrons.

Indirect light is essential because high intensities of light can stress new cuttings and cause leaves to drop.

Diffused indirect sunlight provides more than enough light for the rooting process.

Humidity is also important. Your stems can’t replace the water they lose through transpiration because they don’t have roots. Propagating in a mini greenhouse is ideal.

Alternatively, cover the propagation area with clear plastic so that condensation forms on the underside.

Temperature control is also important and should be maintained at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Which propagation method suits which philodendron best?

Horticulturists from the University of Nevada Reno Extension in Las Vegas recommend tip cuttings for the propagation of heartleaf philodendron, Philodendron scandens oxycardium. [1]

They recommend the air layering propagation method for Philodendron cordatum, which is a lovely trailing philodendron.

They also recommend air layering for the split-leaf philodendron (also known as Monstera deliciosa), which, although an aroid, is confusingly no longer classified as a philodendron, despite its common name.

More confusingly, some people still call a split-leaf philodendron a Philodendron selloum (which incidentally are called Philodendron bipinnatifidum or Tree philodendron)—which split-leaf philodendrons are not.

Which-Propagation-Method-Suits-Which-Philodendron-Best

Additionally, they warn that not every philodendron plant will root well in water.

The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension recommends tip and stem cuttings for all philodendrons. [2]

They recommend rooting heart-leaf philodendron, Philodendron oxycardium, and Fiddle-leaf philodendron, Philodendron panduriforme, in water.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension recommends compound layering for the heartleaf philodendron. [3]

The University of Missouri Extension recommends this same method for all philodendron plants. [4]

The University of Connecticut (UConn) Home & Garden Education Center, on the other hand, recommends air layering or propagation by tip and leaf bud cuttings. [5]

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach prefers stem cuttings for all philodendrons. [6]

They state that trailing or climbing types are particularly easy to propagate from stem cuttings in water or a rooting medium.

These include the heartleaf philodendron, also called Philodendron hederaceum, and the fiddleleaf species.

They say non-trailing types may be propagated from stem cuttings or offsets that grow from the base of the plant or from the roots.

These types are also called self-heading philodendrons, such as tree philodendrons (Philodendron selloum or bipinnatifidum), which have large stems and short internodes.

We are going to discuss how to propagate philodendron plants from stem cuttings and by layering.

Ultimately, we suggest that whichever one works for you is the one to stick with.

Propagating philodendron from stem cuttings

how to propagate philodendron plants from stem cuttings

Typically, we propagate philodendrons by taking stem cuttings. It’s quick, easy, and usually 100% successful as long as you take your philodendron cuttings while the plant is actively growing.

You can also take a tip or leaf bud cutting, or several cuttings, from the mother plant.

Once you have taken your cutting, you can either root it in water or plant it in a potting medium in a pot with drainage holes.

You can use a good quality potting mix combined with perlite or crushed orchid bark. Some people like to add peat moss to the fresh potting mix instead.

Tools and materials required to cut and propagate

All you need to take stem cuttings is a sharp knife, scissors, or sharp pruning shears.

If you’re going to be rooting the stems in water, you’ll need sterile jars filled with water.

Alternatively, you’ll need pots filled with your preferred potting medium. Always be sure your tools are clean and sterile.

You don’t have to use a rooting hormone, but it will help to speed up root growth.

Taking a Philodendron cutting

Taking a philodendron stem cutting is a super-simple way of propagating philodendron plants.

All you do is cut a 2–6 inch length of stem from the top of a mature plant, below any leaf node on the stem, retaining the terminal bud and a few leaves. This becomes the mother plant.

Remove the leaves at the bottom of the stem. Whether you root the stem in water or soil, you don’t want leaves to be below the rooting medium.

If you are opting to use rooting hormone, dip the bottom end of your philodendron stem cuttings in the hormone. Tap the stem cutting to get rid of excess hormone powder.

Then, stick the piece of stem firmly into the rooting medium you have chosen. Be sure the stem will be able to support itself as the new plant grows.

If you’re not sure, push in a piece of bamboo or some other stick that you can use to keep it well supported.

Philodendron propagation through layering

Philodendron-Propagation-Through-Layering

Layering is a surprisingly simple method of rooting a new plant while it is still attached to its parent plant by a stem.

Many plants layer themselves naturally when the stem touches the soil and develops new roots.

When this happens, you can detach that part of the stem, taking care not to damage the newly developed roots.

Then all you do is plant them just as you would seedlings, in good quality potting mix.

The basic method involves breaking the stem or bending it and then covering the “wounds” so that they heal and produce roots that will result in new plants.

It’s an easy method that is often used to propagate tropical houseplants too, especially those that are commonly slow or difficult to root.

If you think about it, a lot of tropical houseplants get very leggy. As a result, they commonly drop older leaves at the base of the stem of the plant.

The layering methods discussed here will enable you to produce more plants with fresh roots in a comparatively short period of time.

Philodendron propagation through air layering

Philodendron-Propagation-Through-Air-Layering

Because philodendrons tend to drop their lower leaves during the propagation process, this layering method is often preferred over cuttings.

This method is also used to reduce the height of leggy, over-stretched plants.

It’s not a new method of propagation either. Sometimes called Chinese layering, it was a method used many centuries ago by the Chinese.

How to start the layering process

Instead of cutting the stem, you remove leaves from a couple of inches of the stem on each side of the point where you are going to make a layer.

Then, from the center point, you cut through about half of the stem or branch at a slant upwards.

At this point, apply the rooting hormone to the cut. Don’t let the cut heal.

Soak unmilled sphagnum moss in water for a couple of hours and then squeeze it out before packing it around the stem to cover the cut.

Rather than leaving the cut to heal in the air, as the method’s name suggests, cover the moss with clear plastic wrap.

Secure it with plant ties, string, or duct tape. This will let the moss dry out, and you’ll be able to see the new growth through the plastic once the stems start to root.

It shouldn’t take much longer than a month for the roots to form. Once they form, you can cut the various sections off, each with its roots attached.

Philodendron propagation through compound layering

Philodendron-Propagation-Through-Compound-Layering

A healthy stem attached to a philodendron mother plant will often start to grow roots where it touches moist soil.

This is a natural form of propagation that usually takes place during the plant’s active growing period from early spring through summer.

How to start compound layering

Compound layering works beautifully with any philodendron plant that has a flexible stem-like heartleaf philodendron.

But it can also be used to propagate philodendron selloum that has a thicker, less flexible stem.

Ultimately, it works best with long vines that you can bend and “wind” at every curve.

Once the wounded bits have healed and produced new root growth, you will have multiple cuttings, most, if not all, of which will develop into new plants.

You follow the same process outlined above.

Propagating philodendron from offsets

Propagating-Philodendron-From-Offsets

Offsets are like little plantlets that develop at the base of the mother plant.

Instead of pulling the plant out of the soil, you can remove the offset by carefully cutting it off with a sharp, sterilized knife or scissors.

You will, though, need to dig around the plant to access the roots. You’ll want to ensure you have enough roots on the offset to avoid stunted growth.

Water the plant well a day or so before you plant it to remove the offset and minimize shock. If the parent plant is in a pot, it’ll be easier to remove it from the container and loosen the root ball, especially if it’s root-bound.

Fill a clean container with fresh soil, ideally a good quality potting mix combined with orchid bark or perlite.

It needs to be large enough to accommodate the existing roots and to allow the rooting process to continue.

Aerial roots

Trailing, climbing, and tree philodendrons, including Philodendron selloum, develop aerial roots that provide support and allow them to grow up or on trees.

Just remember that they grow above the ground and burying them in the ground won’t help the plant grow.

If there are any of these roots on your offsets or parent plants, you can prune them off using sharp pruning shears.

If you’re looking for a pair of shears, we really like these pruning shears. They are not too expensive and they seem to never dull. Plus, they are easy on the hands.

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Is it better to propagate philodendron in water or soil?

Is-It-Better-To-Propagate-Philodendron-In-Water-Or-Soil

You can propagate philodendrons, including philodendron selloum, in water or a variety of potting media, including soil.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from propagating a few stems in soil and some others in the water.

How to propagate philodendron in soil

We’ve already mentioned the suitable types of potting media you can use, including soil.

You’ll need to fill a pot with this, ensuring there are enough drainage holes to prevent the possibility of root rot.

Once you’ve dipped your stem in rooting hormone powder, push it into the soil.

Place the pot in a shady area away from direct sunlight, and water thoroughly. Gradually introduce it to more light as it grows.

How to propagate philodendron in water

Some, but not all, philodendron plants can be propagated in water. A caveat is that the roots can become very stringy and fibrous.

They can also take more time to become established once transplanted than it takes a rooted cutting.

All you need to root your cuttings in water in a jar or container filled with plain tap water. It should be large enough to hold the stem and ensure that the cuttings root.

You’ll need to keep the water clean and place the jar in bright indirect light away from direct sunlight.

Place your cuttings in the water and wait for them to root. Then plant it in a container with potting mix and enough drainage holes.

What to do after you propagate philodendron

What-To-Do-After-You-Propagate-Philodendron

One of your first concerns will be to ensure that your new plant hasn’t suffered from transplant shock.

But it is also important to keep it in an environment where it can grow into a healthy plant.

For the rest, the conditions your new plants will appreciate are the same as those we suggest for plant propagation.

Get these right, and whether you are growing the heart-leaf Philodendron scandens, Philodendron selloum, or any other species, you’ll soon have a nice, bushy plant.

Light conditions

Generally, philodendrons like bright light, but it should be bright indirect sunlight.

Humidity

Because the new roots will always be small in relation to the leaves, it’s important to keep your newly potted plant somewhere that offers high humidity.

A helpful trick is to place a clear plastic bag loosely over the entire plant for about a week. This helps to maintain the humidity and prevent your plant from wilting.

Watering your plants

You need to keep the soil moist but don’t overwater your plants. Overwatering often results in root rot, which can result in your plant dying. Only water when the top inch of soil is dry.

Self-heading, non-trailing philodendrons tend to get root rot more easily than those that trail or climb, including Philodendron selloum.

We particularly like pots that self-water and have drainage holes. This self-watering container is what we use for our indoor plants. There’s no need to worry about overwatering or preventing root rot.

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Fertilizing your plants

A small amount of balanced liquid fertilizer is great for root development and will help you grow healthy, bushy plants.

But only feed once a month in spring and summer during the active growing period.

We personally use slow-release fertilizers. In particular, we use this houseplant slow-release fertilizer. It’s super simple to use, and you don’t need to worry about it once you set it in the soil. It’s been a game-changer for our indoor houseplants.

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Conclusion

Propagating philodendron plants is easy and rewarding. There are several simple propagation methods that even a total amateur can master relatively instantly.

This guide shows you how to go about propagating philodendron species with minimal effort and very few tools.

References

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