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A Haircut for Your Houseplant

If you love surrounding yourself with plants all year round like I do (and who wouldn't?) you get your "green" fix throughout the winter months by keeping houseplants. These living gems help to purify the air inside your home while adding much needed color and texture this time of year. Houseplants are generally easy to care for during their down time as their growth is slower and they require less fertilizer and water (although heat sources may dry soil out faster during the winter months).

I generally do not pot up my indoor plants until March-April as this is the time they start putting on the most growth. But occassionally I notice that a plant may need a little TLC and this time its my rope hoya. This guy does not sprout out shoots from the middle without encouragement, rather his growth mainly occurs at the tip and it ends up looking very long but slim.

This rope hoya was purchased at a Super Store about 4 years ago as a potted plant with only about 6" of growth on it. It is a bit special to me as my tiny Florida Squirrel Tree Frog named Misty managed to hitch a ride on it all the way from Floriday to my home. I kept the little guy to the ripe old age of 2 1/2 years in a small table top terrarium. So in Misty's honour I am determined to give his plant a good life.

Just by merely cutting the hoya shorter I will encourage branching at the point of the cut. The best place to prune a plant is right above the point where a leaf joins on the main stem, this is called the "leaf node" and where the branching begins.

Since I want the plant to fill out more quickly (rope hoyas are slow growers in general) I am going to take the two pieces that I am cutting off and replant them back in the same pot. First I have to remove the first couple of sets of leaves from the main stem. If I wanted to, I could just replant each piece in their own pot to make two entirely new plants. The more leaves I remove the more places the stem has to develope new roots. Actually, I could make several new plants buy cutting the two pieces up to make 4, 6 or even 8 new plants, they would just be smaller and take longer to grow.

My finished hoya is definately shorter but looking fuller already. I will have to be careful to not let the very top inch of the soil dry out so there is water available to the new pieces. It won't take long for roots to develope and watering may resume to normal.

This process can be done with other plants, if you want to try it yourself start with more succulent species such as the hoya as they are the easiest. I no longer waste money on rooting hormone for soft tissue cuttings like houseplants as I find the cuts tend to heal over before they produce root. Nor do I stick them in water - some stems will produce roots this way but others may rot.

What houseplants do you propagate?

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