Got some cuttings that you think are ready to move to soil?
Plants vary in the time it takes them to produce roots in water. Tradescantia can grow roots within a couple of days, while a fiddle leaf fig might take a few weeks before it starts putting out any roots.
When is it time to plant them?
Knowing when to pot your cuttings up is a key step to the propagation process because you risk losing your new plants if you don’t get it right.
I love seeing roots develop so I’m quite lazy about this, but the rule of thumb is to wait until the roots are at least 4 or 5cm long before potting them up. I usually wait longer than this because some of the finer water roots will die back in the transition to soil. This is totally normal and to be expected.
How to plant your rooted cuttings
Once you’ve established that it’s time to transfer your cuttings to soil, there are two different ways you can do this:
Option A: transfering rooted cuttings straight into your potting mix
Option B: gradually replacing water with soil in the propagation vase before transfering rooted cuttings to a pot
When it comes to pot size, it’s quite important to use the smallest pot size possible in the beginning. This is why we have give you small pots in our potting kits. Too big a pot size can result in the plant rotting.
A: Straight-up potting
Approach this method as if you are potting any other plant.
- Fill your pot with soil until is it halfway full
- Stick your finger in the soil to create a small hole
- Remove your rooted cutting from the water and give it a good rinse
- Carefully place your cutting so that the roots are below the rim of the pot. Try to spread the roots out a bit so that they aren’t potted as one big clump
- Fill the rest of the pot with soil
- Gently push down on the soil to secure the cutting in place and top up with soil if required
- Water the plant thoroughly until water starts to flow out the bottom of the pot
- Place it in a warm, humid spot
– easier to do
– a faster process
– Comes with more risk because the plant doesn’t get a lot of time to adjust to being in its new home
B: Transitional potting
- Pour out half the original amount of water and replace it with some soil.
- Continue to add a teaspoon of soil each day until the cutting is mostly in soil.
- Follow the steps 4-8 as above to plant the cutting in soil
– Higher chance of success as it allows cuttings to acclimatise to the new, drier environment and start to adjust the structure of their roots.
– Works well if you’re new to plants or are working with delicate cuttings
– Gradual process
I personally use method 1.
Caring for your newly rooted plant
Once the cuttings have been potted up, you’ll need to keep the soil moist (but not waterlogged) for the first couple of weeks as the new plant adjusts. It can go into shock in the beginning, but should bounce back with time!
Increasing the humidity around the plant can help acclimate it to its surroundings, since the water-to-soil move means a high-to-low humidity shift as well. The easiest way to do this is to place a ziploc bag over the cutting and pot for the first week or so. Determine what light, temperature, and humidity conditions your new plant needs, and find a safe spot for it to grow and thrive.
I often use plastic tubs, ziplocks bags or big cookie jars as little humidity dome boosters. Ziplocks are also particularly helpful when it comes to dealing with unhappy plants or unrooted cuttings that need special care and attention.
NB note about plant food. Young plants are very fragile, so go easy on the fertiliser in the beginning. I hardly ever feed my young plants, but when I do, I dilute it heavily before before use. You don’t want to burn the roots 🙂