Propagation and Problems With Houseplants

Propagation and Problems With Houseplants

Propagation Of House Plants Step By Step

Many houseplants can be grown from seed. If you are using polythene bags over pots or seed pans, remove them as soon as the seeds have germinated or the cuttings rooted.

The aluminium plant, Pile a cadierei, and the shrimp plant, Beloperone guttata, can be propagated from soft-stem cuttings. The iron-cross begonia, Begonia rex, is easily increased by leaf cuttings. Remove a healthy leaf and nick the main leaf veins

1 The iron-cross begonia,Begonia rex, can be easily increased by leaf propagation.

2 Both Saintpaulia and ivy can increase by leaf propagation.

In several places on the undersurface with a sharp knife. Pin the prepared leaf to the surface of a pot or seed pan filled with cutting compost; use bent wire or hair pins to hold the leaf in place. Alternatively, cut the leaf into 3 cm (11/4 in.) squares, including a section of main vein on each square, and insert them edgeways, 1.5 cm PA in.) deep. Keep the leaf cuttings in warm, moist conditions and tiny plantlets will soon appear from the vein cuts.

Clump-forming plants, such as Clivia miniata and aspidistras, can be split up into several smaller clumps to increase numbers. Many cacti and succulents form suckers which can be removed and potted up separately. To propagate the Christmas cacti, Schlumbergera x buckleyi, place 3-5 cm (1-2 inch) long leaf segments upright in shallow pots or seed pans filled with potting compost. Given warm, moist conditions, new roots will grow from each segment.

PLANTS FOR FREE

Many plants can be grown for free, from vegetables or even vegetable parings. While these are not long lived or particularly beautiful, children enjoy experimenting in this way, especially so because the results are very rapid.

The tops of carrots, if placed in a shallow dish of gravel or sand topped up with water, produce masses of ferny new leaves. Other roots, such as beetroot, parsnip and swede, can be similarly treated. Cut all the old leaves and stalks back to within 3-5 cm (1-2 in.) of the top when starting.

Grapefruit, orange and lemon plants can be grown from pips if you can provide a constant temperature of 16°C (60°F). Although the plants are unlikely to produce fruit in temperate climates, the foliage is very attractive and pleasantly scented. The date palm can also be raised from pips, but it requires a minimum temperature of 23°C (73°F) in order to germinate.

Pineapple tops can sometimes be persuaded to root if you cut off the foliage with about 2.5 cm (1 in.) of fruit still attached. Pare around the edges of the attached pulp so the sides are vertical and form a plug. Leave this to dry out for a day or two, to lessen the risk of rotting, and plant in a cutting compost.

PALE, TALL, LEGGY PLANTS

These symptoms are often caused by excessive shade, particularly when accompanied by high temperatures. Avoid overcrowding and excessive heat. Provide plenty of indirect sunlight and fertilizer.

WILTING

When plants lose water more quickly than it can be replaced, leaves become limp and droop. Avoid dry atmospheric and root conditions, draughts and strong sunlight. Keep plants in the shade, especially those with diseased and damaged roots, and immediately after repotting. Although some plants flower better when potbound, others resent this condition; the latter should be potted on whenever necessary. Excessive water can also cause wilting, as it fills the tiny air pockets in the growing medium and literally suffocates the plant’s roots.

BROWN OR SCORCHED LEAF MARGINS

This often follows severe wilting. Try to prevent wilting and, in particular, keep plants warm and out of cold, drying draughts and wind, and hot dry atmosphere.

WATER MARKING

Plants with hairy leaves, such as African violets, develop pale or scorched patches on the leaves if water lodges on the leaf surface. The problem is made worse if foliar feeding is done in direct sunlight. Avoid feeding or watering plants in direct sunlight, and take care not to splash water on hairy-leaved plants.

SLOW-GROWING, PALE PLANTS

These symptoms, particularly when combined with hard stems, indicate starvation. Use the correct compost and start feeding plants within a month of potting. Pot on plants into increasingly large containers. Repot long-lived plants into fresh compost when the final-sized container is reached. Avoid draughts, chills and periods of neglect.

NON-FLOWERING OR BUD DROPPING

Give flowering plants well-lit conditions, avoiding heavy shade, low temperatures, dry atmospheres, and violent fluctuations in temperature, light, feeding and watering.

CHLOROSIS

Yellow leaves which seem fairly healthy and do not wilt indicate growing conditions which are excessively alkaline. Other symptoms are small leaves and delayed or poor flowering and a whitish encrustation or covering on the leaves. Where possible, use rainwater instead of water from a tap. Applications of iron and magnesium chelate often correct the situation by supplying the plant nutrients required.

LOSS OF VARIEGATION

Some variegated plants, such as tradescantia, develop shoots with all-green leaves. Remove such shoots as soon as they appear and avoid overfeeding. Move the pot into more light, which encourages variegation.

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