Propagating Plectranthus

Plectranthus and other members of the Lamiaceae family, like Coleus, are easy to propagate. These tender perennials are not hardy in my Zone 6 garden so before frost I bring in a few of my favorite plants as stock plants. If the plants are small enough I overwinter them in a pot with soil and towards the end of winter I begin propagation. If the plants are too big outside in the fall I proceed to take cuttings and begin propagation at that time.

An apical cutting of Plectranthus
An apical cutting of Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Zulu Wonder’

Whether I begin this process in the fall or late winter, this  is how I propagate my square stemmed plectranthus and coleus. I prefer to begin the process later rather than sooner since it makes the house less cluttered.

I use my fingers rather than scissors to snip off the leaves because the give me more control
I use my fingers rather than scissors to pinch off the leaves because that gives me more control over how close I can get to the stem

I cut sections off the host plant making sure that I have at about 5-7 leaf nodes. Then I pinch off most of the remaining leaves right to the stem taking care not to tear stips. Since the leave nodes are opposite, I leave only 2-4 nodes depending on the spacing between them on the stem.

Once I cleanly remove the excess leaves I discard them
Once I cleanly remove the excess leaves I discard them

I take off so many leaves since I want the energy of the plant to got towards root production rather than transpiration. I cut the stem to a length of 4-6 inches, making sure that I cut the stem just below my final node.

I like keeping the glass on my windowsill in the kitchen so I can enjoy watching the roots grow
I like keeping the glass on my windowsill in the kitchen so I can enjoy watching the roots grow

I leave the stems in a glass of water on my windowsill in the kitchen for a few weeks making sure to keep the water clean and the glass full. Once there are a sizable number of white roots and root hairs visible I plant each of the stems into a pot using fresh pro-mix potting soil. I place a bit of soil at the bottom of the pot, sprinkle in a bit of timed release fertilizer and then top it off with more soil to within about a half inch toward the top of the pot.

I try to keep the water clean and high enough on the nodes to develop more and healthier roots
I try to keep the water clean and high enough on the nodes to develop more and healthier roots

I make sure as I’m sprinkling the soil around the roots that they are evenly spaced and not cramped. I continue to water them without letting them dry out in their pots.

Wherever there is a leaf node submerged in water the roots will develop
Wherever there is a leaf node submerged in water the roots will develop

This propagation process always gives me a great feeling that spring is in the air even when there’s still snow on the ground.

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