Make: How to Propagate Houseplants

The easiest decor update? Just add green…

My first apartment didn’t truly come alive until I invested in a houseplant. Before that little burst of greenery took its place on my windowsill, my thrift store finds felt disjointed and random. It wasn’t until I discovered the joy of a jade plant (and how hard they are to kill) that I discovered my interior style. Plants have the incredible ability to not only make any kind of space magically feel like home, but also make that home a healthy place to live but filtering the air we breathe. With the amount of chemicals and heavy metals present in modern homes, in some cases our indoor environments can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoors; houseplants offer an economical and eco-friendly alternative to expensive air purifiers and fans. Plus, wouldn’t you rather gaze upon a fiddle leaf fig than a big hunk of whirring plastic? Thought so.

While many are quick to write themselves off as a “black thumb”, there’s a plant out there for everyone, and I happen to be a fan of (almost) all of them. The deep green of a jade plant, the fireworks spray of a spider plant hanging in your kitchen window… a unique plant adds dimension and color to your decor, allowing the beauty of nature to permeate the walls, even if the view outside your windows is of skyscrapers and traffic. After purchasing my first jade plant all those years ago, I quickly learned that it’s easy to make two plants from one. Then four plants from two. And… well you get the gist. Once you have one, with a little love and care and intuition you can easily propagate the leaves, or even take advantage of the plant opportunities lying dormant in your fridge! Read on for my tips for getting a little green indoors, before spring has even sprung…

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Jade: I have fond memories of the gigantic jade plant that lived on my grandmother’s sun porch. Practically a tree, its base was covered in moss and made the perfect setting for fairy houses and other miniature obsessions. Naturally, a jade was the first plant I picked up after moving into my first apartment. Jades tend to be a bit hardier than other succulents, and very forgiving. In the rainy season (summer) they like water about once a week and, in their dormant season (fall and winter), they can be watered anywhere from every other week to once per months. The leaves will let you know: Shiny and glossy? All good. Dusty and shriveled? Time for a drink. If a stem breaks off, don’t throw it out! Instead, place it in a cool dark place for a few weeks, then in a glass of water. Within a few days you should start to see roots appear. Once the roots are a few inches long, pot the plant using succulent-specific potting soil.

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Avocado: Among the available houseplants hiding in your refrigerator, of which there are many (did you know you can plant everything from pomegranate, to sweet potato, to chickpeas, and you’ll get a houseplant? True story!), the avocado pip might be the most ubiquitous. I’ve been sprouting this pip at my desk for the past several months, a satisfying thing to observe on a daily level, and the plant itself makes for a pretty payoff. While most pips will sprout when tossed in a glass of water and left alone, the toothpick trick seems to speed things along. Simply stick three toothpicks into a clean avocado pip (the riper the avocado the better, as the seed has had time to mature) and place the pip wide side down atop a glass of water. Keep the water filled and, after a few weeks, you should see a root forming. If no shoots appear after a month or so, it might be time to start anew. Not all pips will sprout.

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Once the roots have developed and the shoot is about 12-inches tall, re-pot the plant in a roomy pot using well-draining potting soil. You can also prune back the top to a bud to promote growth.

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Small succulents: While easy to grow, smaller, more delicate succulents still require care and plenty of sunlight. Like jades, theire watering schedule largely depends on the season; however, they’re incredibly easy to propagate and, if left to their own devices, will do most of the work for you. Keep a close eye on dropped leaves and stems — with a bit of water and sunlight, you’ll see new growth emerging from the broken-off end in a few weeks. Once you have a few leaves sporting new growth, fill a pot with succulent-specific soil and place the leaves on top. Water when needed and watch them grow!

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+ What’s your favorite kind of plant to keep at home? Please share!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the reminder! Spring is here and even those of us living in apartments can enjoy the companionship of growing things. You’re right about plants cleaning the air. Your words have inspired me. I’m off to pick up some little plants. And maybe an avocado, too!

  2. I totally just started a new little avocado pip yesterday, and hopefully it doesn’t die as quickly as all my other plants, since my cat will do anything to get her jaws on them!
    Great little post and tips!

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