Having fun propagating sansevierias using leaves
Published on: Sunday, October 13, 2019
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Cuttings ready to be inserted into the rooting medium.
PROPAGATION is a very interesting topic.  It is capable of waking up sleepy eyes and drowsy brains, more so if it is focused on mammalian propagation.  

Granted that everyone is familiar with and very thrilled with mammalian propagation or even reptilian propagation, but propagating plants is just about as thrilling because not everyone is skilful in the various techniques and methods of plant propagation.

This is all the more exciting if one is dealing with the vegetative propagation of interesting plants that can contribute in terms of beautification, aesthetics and functionality to both indoor and outdoor situations.  

As this method of propagation is normally cleaner, it has become a choice that no one will reject if only they know the methods to do it successfully.  The disadvantage is that it usually takes a longer period of time to see the results, which may range from weeks to months. 

When handling plants for propagation purposes, there is less problem because of minimal taboos, customs, practices, beliefs, superstitions, and so on.  The important thing is that at the end of the day, it is just full of fun for all to partake of and enjoy.  Moreover, it may reduce the urge to snooze away every minute for nothing beneficial in return except to expand the bulges and waist lines.

When propagating plants, it does not matter where the activity is carried out.  It can be in your front or backyard, on rooftops, balconies, open concourse, alleyways, or even right in your apartment.  

The saying that ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ is practical and applicable in this instance.  

Just make sure that the materials being handled do not belong to plants under the category of protected species. For that matter, ensure that all rules and regulations are adhered to especially when it involves interstate movement of such materials. 


Ideas about plants to propagate

It is necessary to have a few initial ideas about the plants that you plan to propagate, such as the variety, the availability, suitability, ease of handling etc.  

Obviously, the bigger and chunkier the plant parts are, the more difficult it becomes when it comes to handling them.  

Collecting large stem or branch cuttings for rooting purposes would be a little messy and troublesome because they involve large pieces that may have to be carried in bundles of ten or twenty cuttings on tough shoulders.  

Generally, large vegetative parts are normally more bulky and thus require slightly more effort in lugging them home for your propagation exercise.  

Some smaller plant parts may be very exciting to work on as it entails a different approach as well as requiring only some simple skills.  

Seeds would be a breeze indeed to be carried home where they are used to generate new plants in what is called seedage. 

Some seeds are so tiny that they may run into the thousands per gram, while others may weigh several grams or more per seed.  

Most gardening enthusiasts are already experts in seedage, having handled generations of plants and their seeds when doing gardening.  

This may result in some going for a yawn or two, or even trying to catch a wink or more while breezing through the scattering of some ornamental seeds on the ground or in pots.


Propagating sansevierias

Among all the common garden plants, Sansevierias, or mother-in-law’s tongue as it is commonly known, is one of the easiest to propagate and grow, and this should actually incur no sweat, no cost and no headaches.  

It is such a joy indeed to be able to generate new plants using vegetative means and see them protruding through the soil surface as plantlets by just applying some simple skills.  

Just some simple tools, a few minutes of time, a couple of pots and some garden soil, and of course, several cuppas or bottles of your favourite beverage, etc. to quench your parched throats.  These are simple and practical inputs to obtain beautiful, exciting and rewarding outputs.

There are several ways to do the job, and invariably, these vegetative means of propagation are also the most popular means to produce new plants of sansevierias.  Results are normally quite fast and fruitful, which is why it is a confidence booster for gardening enthusiasts aiming to upskill to the next higher level.

The two most common ways are by division which is the simpler and faster method, and by the use of leaf cuttings.  The latter is more time-consuming and tedious, and takes a longer period of time to yield results.  

Interestingly, using leaf cuttings in the vegetative propagation of sansevierias is not difficult at all and it is also a good test of the ability to apply the horticultural skills acquired till that stage.


By division of existing clumps

Usually a pot of old sansevierias is like the proverbial pot of gold.  It should be very crowded and overflowing after a couple of years in the same pot.  This should prove to be a big bonus because of the large number of shoots and suckers available, and moreover, it should be quite easy to pull out the entire clump from the pot without damaging anything at all.

When this is done, gently loosen the rootball and identify the part to be removed for replanting.  At this stage, it should be very easy to see the numerous young and old suckers that grow up from the base of the parent plant.

Some of these well-rooted suckers may be removed by using a pair of secateurs and then planting them into separate pots containing good quality fresh topsoil.  

To enjoy a densely planted effect, just put in three or four suckers per pot, depending on the size of the latter.  This method, which is known as division or separation, guarantees virtually 100pc success in the propagation of sansevierias.


By using leaf cuttings

This method requires a little more time and skill compared to the method of division. But to the keen gardening enthusiasts, it should prove to be very interesting and rewarding too.  

From a single parent plant, or to be precise, from a single blade of leaf, it is possible to obtain hundreds of plants over the long run.

First of all, select a good, healthy leaf from the parent plant clump. The leaf should preferably be long and straight without the twists and bends so that the slices cut from it would be straight and easy to insert into the soil.  

At the basal portion of each leaf to be taken, use a clean cutting tool such as a garden knife or a pair of secateurs to do the cutting job.  Sometimes such tools are stuck with lumps of mud or other soil material so it is a good practice to keep the tools clean at all times.  This is just plain simple good gardening practice.

Once a leaf has been chosen and taken out, cut it up into lengths of 10-15cm. At the base of each section, trim off the corners so that a pointed end is produced.  When this is done, the cutting is ready for insertion into the rooting medium.  

Don’t worry about things such as rooting hormone, rooting powder, magic powder, resurrection hormone etc. It is more worthwhile to focus your energy on your gardening endeavour rather than to think about those things because, come what may, the results of your effort will certainly be most rewarding.

For rooting the prepared sections, any garden soil can be used provided all the gravel and large stones as well as other garbage are removed from the pot.    

It is not that these things will cause a disaster which is never the case.  It is just that the rooting medium may appear to be cleaner and tidier and less messy, and as such, there is a tendency to feel good about the whole exercise even though the waiting time is quite long to see results.  Again, simple good gardening practice.

When everything is ready, just insert several pieces into the soil with the pointed tip making the task easier.  Poke in the pieces to a depth of about 5cm in the same way that kids poke their fingers into a pot of honey.  If the soil is already moist, there is no need to apply water.  

Otherwise, apply a sprinkling of water just to keep the soil moist as overwatering may encourage rotting.  When this is done, keep the pot under shade with regular follow-up checks to ensure the rooting medium is neither too dry nor wet.  

It is not really necessary to cover it up with a piece of polythene sheet or hide it away in a box.

In due course, which is about two months, the cuttings should produce numerous little suckers, and these should progressively break through the soil surface to enjoy fresh light and air.  

These little plantlets may be removed at a convenient time and then grown individually or in groups in separate pots or locations.  

From a single little plantlet to a decent clump growing in a nice pot, it should require a time period of 15-20 months.  It is worth the wait as the newly grown potted sansevieria can be very attractive indeed.


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