Restore and Pass It Along

Devil’s ivy plants have grown luxuriantly given diluted, water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer each time that they have been watered.

Two years in a row my wife received a living-plant centerpiece at the Christmas party for a board on which she serves. It was a fresh and vibrant 6-inch pot of devil’s ivy.

The plants sat alongside one another in our sunroom for several years. They’re notoriously easy-grow plants, and I took fairly good care of them. But regular feeding wasn’t one of my best gardening practices.

Over a period of time the first plant began to look tired and anemic, so I bought myself a jar of a well-known water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food.

Continued Below

It only took a couple of weeks before I could begin to see a big difference in the plants, and within 6 months I had vigorous new stems.

I gave each plant a big trim, repotted them into fresh soil and planted them back into the same pots. I applied a fresh dose of fertilizer (which I now use each time that I water) and set them back in the sunroom.

Roots are ready to go into a loose, highly organic potting soil followed by a thorough watering.

I took those cuttings and stuck them down into a jar of water. I’ve refilled the water glass several times in the ensuing 4 or 5 months, and now it was time to pot up those cuttings and take a batch more.

Cuttings should soon start growing and will very likely be producing their own cuttings within a few months. Click image for larger view.

Continued Below

Back to the original plants…
The mother plants have grown vigorously again, so it became time to give them another big trim. I did so earlier this week.

Like the child who hasn’t seen the barber in many months, our two devil’s ivy plants had developed long stems. It was time for a “trim and a shaping.”
A harvest of cuttings. I cut the stems into sections each containing 3-4 leaves. It was amazing how many cuttings the two plants yielded. Click image for larger view.
A vigorous cutting will have a plump stem, several large leaves and fat swellings where roots are going to develop. This is a great example.
A vigorous cutting will have a plump stem, several large leaves and fat swellings where roots are going to develop. This is a great example.

I put 6-8 cuttings (a “fistful”) into each of three glasses of water. I used heavy glass containers for added weight so they wouldn’t tip over from the weight of the plants.

I placed the cuttings into glasses of water so the stem sections are below water and the leaves are above. I’ll see roots starting to form within a couple of weeks. At that point they can be left to grow and develop for several months before I plant them into pots filled with high-quality potting soil. Click on image for larger view.
Trimmed plant can be repotted (if necessary) back into the same pot with fresh potting soil, fed, and put back onto its table in our sunroom. Click image for larger view.

Before I close, though, I want to warn you that not all plants can be started in water. As you well know, there are some plants that are accustomed to growing in water. They’re called “aquatic” plants, and the list includes water lilies and cattails. Their roots can handle those sorts of conditions.

Most plants, however, do best in a potting soil that consists of 50 percent solid matter and 50 percent pore space. Of that 50 percent that’s pore space, the ideal situation is for half of that (25 percent of the original potting soil) to be made up of water and 25 percent to be made up of air (oxygen). Keep that in mind as you garden and you’ll always improve your odds of success.

In the meantime, it’s fine to take this alternative route for your devil’s ivy. It can handle the water.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top