February 11, 2013

Houseplants can scratch that gardening itch


If the plant in question doesn’t take well to rooting, chances are good it can be divided. Dividing houseplants (and perennials in your flower garden) is another task where it pays to be ruthless. Most plants love it and respond with lots of vigorous new growth. Plants that thrive when divided include spathiphyllum, or peace lily; Boston fern; Chinese evergreen; snake plant; arrowhead; and pothos.

Some houseplants that I find very easy to root from cuttings include Christmas cactus, African violet, geranium, jade tree, goldfish plant, pothos, vining philodendron and English ivy. Roots will form at the nodes, the swellings where the leaves are attached, so just take a length of stem a few inches long, remove the lower leaves and stick the bottom inch or so into moist potting mix. You don’t need to root these stems in water first. Cover them with a plastic bag and keep out of direct sun until new growth forms at the tips or the stems stay in place when tugged gently. Note: African violets don’t form stems so either root a single leaf by poking its leaf stem into the moist mix or divide the plant into individual plantlets.

I hope to see you at our upcoming Food from the Farm event from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Plattsburgh City Gym. For more information or to buy tickets, call our office or visit

Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: Email questions to




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