Where to Keep Propagations

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I keep my propagations on my coffee table.

There are two reasons I do this, which we’ll go through, but then I also want to cover the ‘ideal’ situation for propagations, so you can decide where to put yours that is not only ideal for your cuttings, but also your lifestyle.

There's no point putting your cutting somewhere that they could *potentially* thrive if you're just going to forget about them.

Reason #1 I keep my propagations in my living room

The light is good.

It’s about three feet away from a south-facing window.

(I know that looks like baby plants, but I recently finished my experimentation so all the props are in one glass, behind the gloriosum and to the left of the spider plant).

The light and humidity are good in here, plus it gets really warm in summer.

‘Really warm’ in the UK is just about perfect for house plants – about 24oC. It does get hotter on occasion, but I can just move them into the hall which is really cool (both in temperature and vibes).

Reason #2 I keep my propagations in my living room

I DON’T FORGET THEY EXIST

I have terrible issues with object permanence.

My memory is SOLID once I’ve been told something a thousand times, but it takes AGES for things to sink in.

I’m *ok* at remembering to water my plants (I’m getting better) but I don’t just forget to change my water prop water, I also…don’t do it.

If they're right in front of me, I at least can't forget. And because I drink my morning coffee right next to them, the idea of changing the water whilst also, say, getting myself a glass of water isn't too abhorrent to me.

I’ve tested this theory. I have a glass of props in my bedroom that are NOT doing well.

You know what? I’m gonna move them right now. AND change the water.

Wow. 8:51 on a Friday and I’ve already accomplished something.

Don't worry about the leaves on the props. They all have roots and new growth. I think (I'll need to repeat the experiment to check) forcing the cuttings to root faster results in the original leaves dropping. It makes sense - the energy had to come from somewhere. 

But what about the ‘ideal’ propagation location?

So, assuming you’re a put together, organised person that doesn’t forget everything that’s every happened in your life ever, what is the best place for your propagation?

I’ve covered things like increasing oxygenation, adding a Pothos, adding nutrient water, etc etc, but where’s the ideal spot for your little plant potentials?

There is a LOT of conflicting advice online, so I can only go with what works for me. I’ll also add tips that I’ve seen and that make sense, but that I simply cba to do myself.

Light

This is the contentious issue I alluded to before. Some people say low light, others say bright light.

I think good light is key, but not harsh light. My south-facing window is fine, because when the sun's at its hottest, it's not streaming in through the window because of the angle. 

The direct light is mostly hitting in the morning when it’s cooler, and it’s nice and diffused in the afternoon when it’s hot af.

It’s extremely difficult to give lighting advice because so many factors influence it BUT in general, you can have propagations as close to north/east-facing windows as you like, but keep them a couple of feet away from south/easting facing ones.

A tip that makes sense is to keep roots covered. Roots grow better in the dark, so you may get faster rooting (idea for another experiment: noted).

I …can’t be bothered to do this.

Which is funny because I could literally just use a mug instead of a cup (I've obvs only just actually thought about it) but in my mind I was envisioning covering a glass with black paper. 

And then I’d have to go and buy black paper and it seems like a lot.

I honestly don’t know how evolution hasn’t gotten me.

Temperature

Plants grow better when it’s warm. Especially plants that come from warm places.

I have propagated plants in winter when it's been cooler, but it's just easier when it's warm because the plant feels like resources are abundant. 

Light and humidity are game changers, but if it's cold, their power is considerably diminished. 

If you’re trying to decide between getting a heat mat and a humidifier, I’d go for a heat mat (if you’re specifically looking to propagate).

You can easily increase humidity by putting your props in a box in a heat mat.

Humidity

Humidity, in my experience, won’t increase the rate at which your propagation root dramatically BUT it will definitely encourage new growth once the plant has rooted. Or even before in the case of this noob:

rhapidophora tetrasperma growing without a root
that aerial root is dead. No other roots. Yet he’s happy as a clam with his new leaf. It must be providing some nutrients, I guess

Humidity will also keep the original leaves from crisping up, and just…generally panicking.

Air flow

Having adequate airflow reduces the risk of mould and bacteria from multiplying to dangerous levels. If you're using a prop box, drill a few holes in the top. 

It will *slightly* reduce the humidity, but it’ll still be a vast improvement on no box at all.

100% humidity is as undesirable as 0%.

Anything around the 75% mark is golden.

If you have a glass cloche (or something similarly airtight) take it off for half an hour or so daily to let the air circulate.

Final thoughts

Your propagations need to be somewhere:

  1. warm
  2. bright (but not baking)
  3. humid but not suffocating
  4. where you’ll remember that they exist and need their water changing

Hope this helps!

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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