Potting Up Plantlets
Posted by Louise Thompson on
So, the leaf you planted has finally produced babies! Those babies will need room to grow so that they can turn into a beautiful plant. First, the answers to a few common questions and then a quick step by step tutorial.
Question 1: When can I separate the babies from the mother leaf?
Generally, the answer is when they are a size which you are comfortable handling. It won't hurt to leave them as a leaf pot for quite some time (they may get leggy if left for a long period).
There are a few caveats:
- Minis will never get huge leaves so you may need to pot up before they are as big as you might prefer.
- Variegated varieties may produce babies which have very white leaves. It is best to leave these in the leaf pot until they have enough green to survive on their own.
Question 2: How many babies should I keep?
This is mainly personal preference! However, one thing to keep in mind - if you are propagating a variety with fantasy, try to keep at least three babies. Fantasy plants will occasionally sport or produce a solid colored flower and you will have better odds of growing a true plant if several babies are kept.
Pot of Plantlets Ready for Division
1. Gather up necessary supplies:
- Supplies to have on hand
- Small starter pots (3 oz bathroom cups)
- Labels (can generate from First Class) or a Sharpie
- Potting soil (I use a 50/50 mix of ProMix and perlite)
- Wick (if desired)
I like to prep a number of pots in advance and have them on hand. I set all of my pots up for wicking.
Prepped Pots Filled with a Light Mix and Wicked
2. Remove mother leaf and plantlet(s) from the pot.
Mother Leaf and Plantlets Removed From Pot
3. Gently remove excess soil. Plantlets may be growing in clumps. If so, set each clump to the side.
Clump of Plantlets
4. Gently separate each clump. Look for the growing point on each plantlet and the stem to ensure that each one is separated.
Separate Plantlets Awaiting Planting
5. Before potting a plantlet, I like to remove any baby or deformed leaves. The plant will quickly put out new growth, just be sure to leave at least 3 leaves.
Plantlet with Leaves to be Removed Marked
Groomed Plantlet Ready to be Potted
6. Using your preferred tool (I like a small craft stick), make a small indentation in the pot for the plantlet. I try to gently press the soil to the side, not pushing it down to avoid compacting it.
Make a Small Indentation to Accommodate the Roots
7. Gently set the plantlet in the indentation. Use your tool (again, I use the craft stick) to push soil back over the roots and the base of the plant. Try to center the plantlet in the pot as much as possible to help it grow evenly.
Covering Roots and “Gently” Firming Soil
8. Ensure that the base of the leaves (where they attach to the trunk) are not buried in the soil. I only use enough pressure on the soil to keep the plant upright. Be sure to avoid compacting the soil.
Growing Point and Base of Leaves Above Soil Line
9. The most important step is to add a label to your new plantlet! This can be as simple as writing it with a sharpie on the pot. I like to use labels printed from First Class but you must make sure you use a laser printer as an inkjet printed label may smear if it gets wet.
Note: When I am working on a variety, I leave the labeled "mother leaf" pot on my workspace until I finish all the plantlets. This avoids having to dig through the trash or forgetting if I get sidetracked!
10. After potting up the plantlets, you can choose to dome them to increase the humidity. This helps them as they grow new roots and get accustomed to being separated from the mother leaf. If your home's humidity is 50% or higher, this may not be needed.
Have any other questions about separating plantlets? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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