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Propagating Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is as simple as propagating a Pothos, but somehow not as easy.
Their propensity towards root rot is probably a contributing factor – some plants just struggle with all things rooty.
That being said, you’ll find that RT is easy to propagate, or a nightmare. I used to struggle SO MUCH, to the point that I gave up propping in water and went with layering instead.
I’ve cracked the code now though, so let me try to impart wisdom!
If we really want to break down how to propagate Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, it’s the same four steps we use to propagate most climbing aroids in water:
- Take a cutting
- Put the cutting in water
- Wait for it to grow roots
- Transfer it to soil
I’ve discovered a few little adjustments along the way that can speed up the rooting process, or just increase the chances of propagation success.
By the way, if you’re taking cuttings because you’re struggling with plant care, read this article on Rhaphidophora tetrasperma problems.
Take your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cutting
A Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma needs a node to root. The leaf and petiole don’t have all the information required to make more leaves. They can root, but that’s about it.
A node is the bumpy bit on the stem that the petioles and aerial roots emerge from. If you make sure you have a leaf and a bit of stem around an inch long, you’re more than likely to have a node.
It should look something like this:
How to take a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cutting
The cutting above is a mid-cutting, which means it doesn’t have an active growth point. You’re more likely to get a midcutting if you buy a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cutting online.
If you’re propagating your own plant, you’ll probably have a top cutting, so there’ll be a growth point.
Midcuttings can be a bit easier to see the nodes. You could make two cuts, between each of the blue arrows and have three cuttings and it all looks pretty clear.
When you’re dealing with a top cuttings things like cataphylls and petiolar sheaths get in the way.
You might have a situation that looks something like this:
I usually remove the cataphyll so I can see the node easier.
Simply slice between the nodes using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife. The sharper the implement the better, because if it’s blunt you’ll end up crushing more cells than you’d slice through. It’s also safer for you!
Does it matter where on the stem you make a cut?
I always take cuttings halfway between two nodes.
Rhaphidophora tetrasperma have a tendency to rot, so the more stem you have as a buffer, the better. It doesn’t matter whether there’s half an inch or three inches between the nodes – I just cut the stem equidistant from the nodes on either side.
Nodes are a collection of a specific type of stem cell, rather than a complete entity, so if you have to cut pretty close, or even into one, don’t worry about it. It’s a little less likely to be successful because there’s less of a buffer if it gets rot, but from a biological point of view it still has everything it needs to produce new growth.
How many leaves should a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cutting have?
It doesn’t matter whether you take a one-leaf cutting or a five-leaf cutting. Both are equally likely to grow into a beautiful new plant.
One-leaf cuttings tend to root faster than bigger ones but are slower to produce new growth. Multiple leaf cuttings can take ages to root but are quicker to get growing. It’s a preference thing.
I tend to do smaller cuttings because I’m impatient.
I have also noticed that if you take a five-leaf cutting, you might only lose a couple of the original leaves, whereas if you take five single-leaf cuttings, you’ll probably end up losing all five within a few months. That really isn’t something that bothers me.
Does it matter if a cutting has multiple nodes?
No – I actually don’t recommend newbies taking cuttings that only have one node if they’re propagating in water because if there’s only one node, the roots and the new growth will come out of the same node.
Then you have to try to get the leaf out of the water and the roots in the water and it just becomes a bit more difficult to get the cutting balanced so everything points in the right way.
If you come into this issue, leave the cutting be until the leaf is unfurled – it doesn’t matter too much if it gets wet. Once the leaf is unfurled use it as a hook over the side of the glass so it keeps itself out of the water and the roots in. You can end up with marks on the leaf from physical damage, but it’s the easiest way.
I don’t have Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in that situation to show you, but here’s my string of hearts:
Does a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cutting need an aerial root to propagate?
No, but it can be beneficial for a couple of reasons:
- You know you’ve got a node
- You can root cuttings with an aerial super quickly, by adding a Pothos cutting to the water, or by using nutrient water. I don’t know why it works, but it does!
Put the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cutting in water
Once you have your cutting, you need to put it in water.
Can you use tap water to propagate Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cuttings?
It depends on your tap water. If you use tap water to water your plants and don’t have any issues, then it’s totally fine to root your cutting in tap water.
I actually keep my cuttings on my kitchen windowsill so I remember to change the water more often.
What vessel should I use for water propagating Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma?
I use old spice jars because they’re a great size and…what else am I going to do with them?
Technically cuttings root faster in the dark, but I don’t think it makes that much of a difference. If you want to wrap your jar in something to block out the light, go ahead. Or use something that’s already opaque, like a mug.
The benefit of using something small to root cuttings is that it’s easier to keep the leaves out of the water, but you can also try taking a load of cuttings so they’re wedged in OR you can slice up something like a pool noodle or pipe insulation and float your cuttings in those.
Where’s the best place to propagate Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma?
Ideally, you want somewhere warm and bright. My kitchen windowsill is south-facing and is probably a bit too hot and bright BUT I’ve found that changing the water daily really speeds up the rooting process.
There’s no way I’m going to trail my cuttings from my coffee table (also in a south-facing window, but a few feet away so it’s a better position for propagating plants) so overall, I have more success with keeping them in a worse position, but doing more in terms of maintenance.
It’s also less messy when they inevitably get knocked over.
Wait for the cuttings to produce roots
You have your cutting, and now it’s in water. Now we wait (and do a bit of maintenance).
How often should you change the propagation water?
I recently read a Reddit thread that claimed that changed the water more often than every four days not only makes no difference to how fast roots are formed, but actually could end up causing root damage.
I did an experiment where I rooted three Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings in water and changed the water at varying intervals. The one that got its water changed daily rooted much more quickly than the other two.
You will need to at least top up, if not entirely change, the water at least every week. Roots need oxygen to grow, and the oxygen in water depletes quite quickly. You can add a bubbler if you’d prefer.
The warmer and brighter the environment of the cutting, the faster the oxygen will deplete.
How long does it take for Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma propagations to produce roots?
My record was ten days – I used a cutting with a long aerial root and added a Pothos cutting to the water. It can take MUCH longer. It depends on the position of the cutting, how healthy the cutting was to begin with, whether you do anything to speed up the rooting process.
If I just put the cutting in plain water that I change every four days, it usually take about three weeks for the roots to start growing.
However, it can take a further couple of months for the cuttings to be ready to pot into soil
When to switch Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cuttings from water to soil
Again, we’re going to compare the ideal with what I actually do.
Ideally, you want to wait until your roots have roots – i.e. the roots of the cutting have started dividing. However, I’ve rooted up cuttings that just had one, obnoxiously long root (about four inches) so I potted it up.
In my experience, the longer the roots are before you get them into soil, the less likely you are to lose the original leaves and the quicker it’ll be to get new growth.
That being said, if you’ve taken three cuttings, and two are ready for soil and one isn’t, I’d probably take the chance, as long as the root was over one inch long. It saves having to add the third cutting at a later date and disturbing the roots on the older two.
The cutting in the picture above went from being a cutting to producing new growth. The root you can see to the left of the stem is dead. I propped her in water and EVENTUALLY the node at the bottom of the stem rooted. It took MONTHS because she was working on her new growth.
Transfer your Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma cuttings from water to soil
Once the roots are long enough, we’re ready to put them into soil.
This is the point that your Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is most likely to fail for two reasons:
- The cutting has water roots, not soil roots, so you need to keep it hydrated enough that the water roots don’t dry out, but also make sure it has a lot of airflow so it can develop new soil roots.
- You’ve been nurturing this cutting for months, and frankly, you’re getting bored*
*this may just be me.
You don’t have to put Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings into soil. You can keep them indefinitely in water, or switch them to a semi-hydroponic setup.
Make sure the pot is the right size
This is crucial and will make everything easier. If you don’t have a pot small enough, then fill the bottom with leca, add your cuttings and soil, and then try to pack leca around the edges too. You can use gravel if you’d prefer. Leca will increase water retention but also allow airflow.
- If you’re using a potting mix that you’re worried won’t retain enough water, soak the leca beforehand.
- If you’re worried that the potting mix is too dense, leave it dry and it’ll draw out the moisture.
- If you don’t know, keep it dry, and just rehydrate the soil if it dries out.
Use a well-aerated potting mix
I use a 50/50 mix of terrarium soil and leca. You could also try your regular potting mix if it’s chunky, or add some leca/bark/perlite if you’d prefer.
If your cutting hasn’t produced any new growth, try to lay the stem on top of the soil so the roots are in the soil but the axillary bud is pointing up – it’ll look like a little white dot on the node. I had to mound up soil around the stems to keep them in place. The roots might stick out of the soil a bit, but that’s fine. Here’s how mine looks:
These cuttings came from my mini Monstera that lived in my terrarium, so it had a few aerial roots. They will probably dry up over time and harden off, but they’ll be fine. As long as most of the roots are in the soil, and the growth is out of the soil, it’s fine.
Keep the soil well hydrated, but don’t overwater
I am a MASSIVE fan of those pump-action sprayers. I use mine to water all my plants now, but they’re especially good at keeping propagations hydrated because you can just spray the top of the soil. It’ll trickle through into the roots and keep everything hydrated, but you’re won’t saturate the soil. Then just repeat when the top of the soil dries out.
If that seems like too much of a faff, you can 100% just water the cuttings like you normally would. But the spray pump method is great if you’re a bit unsure of when to water.
When to add the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma cuttings back in with the mother plant
I know it’s pain, but I like to wait until my cuttings are well-rooted in soil before putting them back in with their mother. If you put a small cutting in with a mother plant with a big root system you’re likely to either overwater the mother plant or underwater the babies. The babies’ roots will be in the top couple of inches of soil, and if you keep them moist enough for the babies, the main roots will end getting too much water.
Although, you can always break out your trusty power sprayer and keep the top moist but not soak the rest of the soil. Seriously, those things are life-changing when it comes to plant care.
My new Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are to the right and back of the sprayer under the black stool. You can see a bit of pot and a bit of leaf
And that’s it!
And you’re done!
I have an article all about Rhaphidophora tetrasperma care here, and if you want to know more about the plant itself – where it comes from, toxicity, cultivars etc, I have a guide here.
You may have a new growth point at this stage, or you may not – it depends on how fast it rooted, how big the cutting was, total fluke etc etc. If you are propagating a top cutting, the new growth should come from the most recent node.
However Rhaphidophora tetrasperma have a weird habit of just picking a random node, activating the axillary bud and starting from there. If you’re rooting a mid-cutting, it could come from anywhere.
I appreciate that a lot of people just need the first paragraph of this article, but I had a lot of struggles with propagating Rhaphidophora tetrasperma in the beginning and it was so demoralising when everyone was saying how easy it was. So after copious experiments, I’ve got a few tips to share and hopefully that’ll help you out.
If you’re still struggling, or have questions, feel free to leave me a comment here or dm me on Instagram – I’m happy to help.