The Q&A Archives: Propagating A Tropical Houseplant; A Red Marginata

Question: My tropical red marginata has grown about 6ft. tall. It has srouted many side shoots with clusters of graceful long leaves. I would like to know if I cut a branch from its side could I grow another plant from that cutting? How would I proceed? Thank you J.M.

Answer: Although you did not specify, I think your plant is most likely a Dracaena marginata; This plant can be layered to propagate it but in my opinion it is more easily propagated by tip cuttings. The most important "tricks" will be to take a cutting with foliage to its base, plunge the cutting deep enough into the soil that it will be self supporting, maintain a warm soil temperature of between about 75 and 80 degrees (a horticultural heating mat or cable might be helpful in providing gentle bottom heat since soil temperature is usually lower than the room air temperature)and use a clean soilless potting mix that holds moisture but is also well aerated so as to prevent rotting.

Keep the soil slightly moist but not sopping wet. Maintain high humidity around the cutting until it roots, a process which should take about a month. One way to do this is to place a clear plastic bag or dome over top of the plant, propping it open occasionally to allow for air exchange. If you use this method, keep the plant in a very bright location but out of direct sun. Good luck with your cuttings!

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