Umbrella Plant: Propagation from Cuttings

Propagating Umbrella Plants from cuttings is an inexpensive and rewarding way to increase the amount of umbrella plants you can grow. Cuttings also make great gifts. The umbrella plant is easy to propagate, and I’ll tell you exactly how it’s done.

To propagate the umbrella plant from cuttings, follow these instructions:

  • Select a stem with a node
  • Trim the cutting
  • Remove bottom leaves
  • Prepare planting soil
  • Stimulate the roots
  • Trim the leaves to maintain moisture
  • Water the cuttings
  • Provide indirect light
  • Induce humidity  

In this guide, I’ll go through every step on the list above in a lot more detail so you know exactly how to propagate an umbrella plant through cuttings. By following these steps, your new umbrella plant should root in roughly a month!

How to Propagate the Umbrella Plant from Cuttings

To reiterate, the umbrella plant isn’t considered a challenging choice for propagation. Even still, indoor gardeners can make mistakes if they’re new to propagating. 

That’s why I want to make this guide clear-cut and easy to use. Without further ado then, here’s what you need to know. 

Select the Right Cutting to Use

If you’ve read my other guides on propagating indoor plants from cuttings, then you’ll recall how the first step is always to select the ideal cutting. That’s true of propagating the umbrella plant as well.

What makes for a good cutting? The cutting should contain at least one least node, but several nodes are okay too.

Okay, back up. What is a node? 

A leaf node is the part of the stem where new leaves will grow. In the node stage, this part of the stem looks swollen but shouldn’t have much detectable growth. 

Once you find an umbrella plant cutting with a few leaf nodes, you want to assess the cutting in other ways to ensure it’s suitable for propagation.

The stem doesn’t have to be particularly thick. If its diameter is about that of a pencil, then the stem is healthy enough to propagate a new umbrella plant. 

The cutting should be mostly green too. If it has noticeable discoloration like browning, the cutting might be in poor health or even dying.

Trim the Umbrella Plant Cutting

Okay, so you’ve selected the right umbrella plant cutting. Now you want to trim it down to size. 

Snip about four inches of stem and no more than six inches.

When you cut, always snip above the leaf node near the stem tip. 

You can cut at the recommended 45-degree angle, as this provides a wider surface area for the stem so it can more easily absorb water. 

Other umbrella plant propagators I’ve spoken with have had success with cutting the stem straight across to reduce the callusing time, I’ve always preferred to trim the cuttings at a 45 degree angle. Just know that both methods work!

The callus is a protective soft tissue layer that covers the part of the stem you cut. When the cutting callouses, that plant end is healed. 

I must recommend that you always use clean tools when you trim plant cuttings of any kind. For the thin stems of the umbrella plant, kitchen scissors will suffice for trimming, or you can use gardening shears.

Each time you’re done trimming the umbrella plant cutting, you should disinfect the shears or scissors using at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. 

Bleach is a great disinfectant to use for cleaning off your trimming tool because most people have access too that you can use to sterilize the tool in between trimming your umbrella plant cuttings.

Sterilizing your propagation tools is important because it greatly reduces passing on any germs your cutting device may have come in contact with prior to your Umbrella plant propagation.

Trim the Bottom Leaves from the Umbrella Plant Cutting

I’ve talked about stems and leaf nodes, but what about the leaves on your umbrella plant cutting? Are they allowed? 

If a few leaves on the upper part of the stem are still holding on, you can keep those attached to your plant cutting. Any leaves around the bottom of the stem need to come off though.

Why is that? When plants photosynthesize for energy, they can dedicate that energy towards any number of things. 

Sometimes, it’s all about new growth, and other times, it’s more about sustaining growth. 

The more leaves on your plant cutting, the more energy the cutting must dedicate to keeping those leaves healthy. A plant cutting already has less energy to spare than a full plant, so it must use what it has wisely.

That’s why I recommend removing the bottom leaves from your umbrella plant cutting. This will provide more energy for rooting, which is crucial if you want your umbrella plant propagation project to be a success.

Once again, you can use kitchen scissors or gardening shears for this job. You should have already disinfected your cutting tool. 

Once you cut the leaves, you’re free to add them to your compost pile. Otherwise, the leaves you’ve trimmed off the bottom of the cutting are of no more use to you. 

Prepare the Planting Soil

In maturity, the umbrella plant reaches sizes of three to six feet wide and four to 15 feet tall. A pot large enough for the mature plant is much too big at this stage, but you don’t want a pot that’s too small either.

A moderately-sized 4 to 6 inch container or flowerpot should work for now. 

Be sure to use well drained planting soil or potting mix. The standard houseplant variety will suffice for your umbrella plant cutting.

To help the cutting once it’s been planted in the pot, I also recommend adding soil amendments such as vermiculite, peat moss, or perlite if you have access to it. A bit of sand is okay too, but I caution you from overdoing it, as all the sand will dry out the soil too much.

Not adding the amendments to the potting soil is not a deal breaker. I add the the amendments to the soil when I’m propagating because they can often increase the odds of a successful umbrella plant propagation.

Moisture is key for your umbrella plant cutting. 

Before the cutting ever goes into its pot, you want to moisten the soil. Put your fingers in the soil, and if you feel any dry areas, wet those too. 

The soil amendments will retain moisture yet let the excess water drain so no standing water can accumulate.

That said, do double-check that your flowerpot has drainage holes before putting the umbrella plant cutting in it! This is a situation where using a pot with holes in the bottom of it is extremely important.

Stimulate the Roots

When the soil is ready, then take your umbrella plant cutting and plant the cutting in the moist soil. 

The next step is for the cutting to make roots, which is more on the umbrella plant than it is you. You can help though! 

Here are some options for stimulating the roots to help speed up the propagation process.

Use a Horticultural Heat Mat

The umbrella plant prefers temperatures up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Consistent temperatures can encourage your cutting to make roots, which is why some indoor gardeners will place a horticultural heat mat underneath the plant’s pot.

Most heat mats allow you to set the precise temperature you want so you can ensure the temps don’t exceed 75. 

Cover the Base of the Planted End with a Paper Towel

One way you can keep the plant end moist is to wet a paper towel and wrap it around the base of your cutting. 

Use a rubber band or some hair ties to secure the paper towel in place. 

Every couple of days, you’ll have to check the status of the paper towel. When it dries out, dip it into some water and put your umbrella plant cutting back in the soil.

Doing this does not negate the need to water your cutting, and I want to make that clear. You’d wrap the paper towel around the end of your umbrella plant in addition to watering it regularly. 

Grow in Water

If you don’t want to have to worry about your umbrella plant cutting’s water levels, you can always choose to grow your umbrella plant cutting in water. 

Umbrella plants can indeed grow in water even in maturity. By propagating the cutting in water, you can just continue growing and caring for your umbrella plant in water for the rest of the plants life.

If you’d rather use water as a growth medium for a little while, then wait until the roots develop and then move your umbrella plant to a pot with soil. 

Water as a growth medium is useful, especially for indoor gardeners who are new to propagating. You can clearly see into a cup or container of water to determine if the umbrella plant’s roots have taken hold. You don’t get that same benefit with soil.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about watering your umbrella plant cutting since it already has plenty of moisture. 

About every week, you should change the water, replacing it with a fresh cup. 

Use a Rooting Hormone 

Your fourth option for root stimulation in your umbrella plant cutting is to apply a rooting hormone. 

To do this, use an instrument such as a chopstick (or even a clean finger) to make a hole in the soil. Get deep into the soil and add the rooting hormone from time to time.

Rooting hormones can increase the chances of the roots developing as well as accelerate root growth once the roots have begun developing.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, “when propagating plants that are considered easy to propagate, a rooting hormone isn’t a necessary step” but if you have a rooting hormone to use, I say go ahead and use it.

Using a rooting hormone at this step in the process can only increase your chances of a successful umbrella plant propagation.

Trim the Leaves to Maintain Moisture

Indoor plants undergo transpiration, and your umbrella plant cutting will as well.

What is Transpiration?

Transpiration is a plant process that leads to water vapor loss on the stomata. 

By reducing water vapor, the plant can keep itself cool when the temperatures are hot, sort of like having a mini air conditioner.

The water that’s used for transpiration is sourced from the roots. The water travels upward and the leaves pull it to the stomata and then use it. 

Since the umbrella plant needs moisture and transpiration reduces moisture, it’s a good idea to trim the remaining leaves for better moisture retention. I’d suggest cutting them horizontally down the middle. 

Water the Cuttings

Speaking of moisture, to go back to what I said before, watering your umbrella plant cutting is not a one-and-done experience. You need to water the umbrella plant cutting whenever the soil begins to dry out.

The key is to keep the soil somewhat moist but never soaking. If the soil feels soggy, then you’re already doing too much. 

Standing water can lead to root rot, which can kill those still-developing roots and lead to a failed umbrella plant propagation attempt. 

Provide Indirect Light

It’s good to get into the habit of providing indirect light for your umbrella plant while it’s still just a cutting, as this is something you should do for the rest of your plant’s long life.  

Of course, when it’s older and more mature, you can use bright, indirect light, but for now, avoid too much brightness. 

Your umbrella plant cutting is extremely fragile at this stage and you don’t want to scorch its few leaves or the thin stem. Plus, with less light exposure, transpiration won’t occur to the same degree.

Be sure to check on your burgeoning new plant on a daily basis at this point to make sure it’s consistently receiving the right amount of light and make adjustments to the light it’s receiving as necessary.

Induce Humidity

The umbrella plant is a humidity lover, enjoying at least 75 percent humidity.

This is quite high! The average relative humidity in a building such as a home or office is between 30 and 50 percent. 

A common method to induce humidity, you can always propagate your umbrella plant cutting in the bathroom to reach the desired 30 to 50% humidity in the air. 

You can also put the cuttings in a tray with a lid made of translucent plastic. The plastic should be angled like a tent so the lid doesn’t touch the growing leaves. 

Take the plastic lid off for a few hours each day to allow the umbrella plant cutting to breathe. 

Prune and Be Patient  

As your umbrella plant cutting begins maturing, it’s normal to see a few dead parts here and there, even if the roots haven’t quite taken hold yet.

Swiftly remove these using your gardening shears or kitchen scissors.

Keep in mind that if more parts of your umbrella tree are dead than alive, you’re doing something wrong with the plant’s care.

Besides pruning, watering, and maintaining humidity and light, all you can do is wait. 

How Long Does Umbrella Plant Propagation from Cuttings Take?

With Umbrella Plant cuttings, propagation can take between 3 and 6 weeks. Once your umbrella plant’s roots are secure and you’re plant is more green than brown you’ll know you’re in the clear and your plant should continue growing from that point on! 

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