How to Propagate Devil's Ivy in Time for Christmas Presents
If, like me, you are attempting to live your simplest life you will be thinking of ways to give gifts that are all about love and care and not about lining the pockets of some global conglomerate. One of the ways to do this is to make gifts yourself.
I am just going to take a moment here to say I am pretty terrible with gifts. I rarely remember birthdays, including my own, and because I am not fussed about gifts myself I tend to think other people aren't either. But I realise this is not always the case and I am trying to get better at gifts, not only at birthdays but all the time. I do love gifts that come with heart, and I want to make a stack of them so that there are always gifts on hand for those who need a little something. Also, a little note. Not everyone wants a plant as a gift. I know, it's hard to imagine, but some just don't want that kind of responsibility. I would never offer a house plant to my mother for instance, as she would panic and hand it straight back. I do bring her quite sturdy plants for her garden though, and she is now on board with that. So, plants, inexplicably not for everyone.
If you like to cook or sew or do woodwork, ceramics or blacksmithing you may not need to be thinking about Christmas gifts right now (unless you have a really large Christmas list), but if your Christmas gifts of choice are garden related it is never too early to begin planning. I love to give plants, but many take months to grow from cuttings and that means I get to December, contemplate Christmas and sigh ever so gently. Same a week before birthdays. So now I often have new plants in various stages of propagation to ensure birthday and Christmas goodies, and I plan to show you some as I go along. I had a little conversation with Jonathan at A Possible World the other day about devil's ivy propagation so we'll start there. Devil's ivy is also known as pothos vine. It is epipremnum aureum and a very popular indoor plant. It grows one long trailing vine for a couple of years before finally starting a new vine from the base. Each vine grows for metres, so if you know someone with this plant they will probably be quite happy to give you a cutting, or even a metre or so of vine, especially if you promise to bring some new baby plants back to them! My original plant came from a cutting from my friend Carla's plant. She wanted to cut hers back because it was hanging down and the cat kept trying to swing on it. The plant that grew from that cutting has sat on top of my fridge for two years and would be about two metres long if I didn't continually chop the ends off and pot them up. I have given away four or five pots and kept three myself and I am pretty sure I can keep up this rate of production for years. More even, because the three plants I kept will also grow many devil babies. Those little green devils will take over the world if we let them.
I have to keep cutting the ends off this vine because it wants to grow into the toaster. Maybe it should be called kamikaze vine instead..
Steps to becoming the proud parent of a devil baby:
1. Look for the little bump behind the place where the leaf meets the stem. This is the beginning of an aerial root and is where the new plant's roots will grow from.
2. Cut above and below one of these embryonic roots. Each cutting will contain at least one root and at least one leaf. I cut off about half a metre of vine and made six cuttings from it.
3. Stick the cuttings in a jar of water. Put them somewhere with indirect light, not full sun. Wait. Don't forget to refill the water periodically. Try and balance the cuttings so the leaves aren't under water or they may rot.
4. Depending on the time of year, after a couple or many weeks white roots will grow in a big tangle in the jar and if you are me you will leave them and leave them until there are so many roots that almost no water fits in the jar anymore. You will no doubt not leave them that long. At some point in the production of roots you take them out and plant them in potting mix in a pot. I water the new plants with a liquid seaweed fertiliser which helps with root development.
5. (optional) If you want a bushy plant with lots of vines cascading down you could wait a couple of years whilst frequently pruning your vine, or plant a bunch of cuttings in one pot. Then in a couple of years you can repot and thin out the vines if it looks crowded. Here is more info on creating a bushier devil's ivy plant.
6. Water when the soil is dry. I find that devil's ivy does not like a lot of water. Poke your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If you detect moist soil, don't water. If it is dry, water. My rule of thumb is to check every week, but if your room is very hot or dry, check more often. Often plants exhibit the same symptom if you are over or under watering them, ie they start yellowing on the margins of the leaves. If you are the plant parent you should be able to tell which one is the problem. The helicopter plant parent is the over waterer, the neglectful parent is the under waterer. As in many areas in life, aim for the middle path.
7. Fertilise in the spring with whatever you have on hand. For me, that is usually the pelletised manure that I feed the vegies. Always water your plant well when you fertilise it. Set all your house plants outside in the rain sometimes in warm weather, and every few weeks sponge the dust off their leaves and they will be so grateful because they breathe through their leaves.
Some cuttings will grow faster than others. This one in Posy's room was from the same batch as the one above on the dining room table.
8. Sing to your plant. It is hard to tell whether they appreciate this, but I can tell you that certain other individuals in my household do not appreciate my singing. Plants do not have eyes to roll so they get impassioned renditions of La Vie en Rose whether they like it or not.
There you have it, everything I know about how to make a Christmas gift in June. Although, even with six months to grow it is going to be a very small Christmas gift. Posy's plant above is two months old but so is my single-leafed runt of the litter above.. Next Christmas it will be much more impressive and that means you can keep it yourself for longer in the meantime.. if you want a quick gardening present, pot up some succulents or divide your aloe plant.
Do you propagate plants for gifts? Let me know your favourites.