The Q&A Archives: Propagating Umbrella Plant

Question: We were recently told to cut our umbrella tree in half because it had become top heavy. The bottom half we replanted and has begun to sprout leaves. But the top half that we put in water with Vitamin B-1 to try to start roots has alot of algea growth on it witch I believe has started to rot the stem. Is there anything we can do to keep this plant from dying?

Answer: Not all plants root well in water, as you have discovered. If you have a large enough cutting, you might want to cut away the rot and try rooting the cutting in sharp sand or potting soil mixed with sand. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and set it in a pot of moistened growing medium. With any luck it will root. A different way of rooting a new plant is with air-layering. If you're ever faced with a too tall plant again, try cutting the stem about 1/3 through, propping the injury open with a small stone, wrapping the cut with dampened sphagnum moss and enclosing the whole thing with plastic wrap. New roots should form at the site of the injury within a few months. You can then cut the top away and plant it in its own pot, roots and all. Afterward, the bare stem on the original plant should develop a new offset stem and produce new leaves.

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