Propagation: Pilea Depressa

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Propagation: Pilea Depressa

Pilea depressa leaves. Aren’t they cute?

Today, I decided to give my beloved pilea depressa a haircut.

Even though I haven’t yet had her a month, she’s nearly doubled in size and volume… Possibly more. She was starting to get a bit unruly, and I would love for her to be a bit bushier.

My pilea depressa, pre-haircut.

Pruning is necessary for plants, and I know this, but as a new plant owner, this was going to be the first serious pruning job I’d ever done. (Not my first propagation, but the first time I was taking off more than a couple branches.) It makes them bushier, since it redirects energy further down the stems.

Everything needed for propagation: a plant and a container holding water.

It also means that you can propagate the stems, for a lot of plants. I’m sticking to water propagation for now — mostly because I’m impatient and want to see my results as they happen! You don’t need a fancy container, but it’s nice, and they’re fairly cheap on Wish!

I think this cost me $6. But I could have used a drinking glass!

Propagation, either water or soil, is fairly simple. Cut off a piece of the plant, stick it in your medium, and wait. And wait and wait and wait. It’s the waiting that made me choose water — this way, I can track the roots’ progress.

No, you don’t need to use a measuring tape. I’m just anal retentive.

It’s best to cut off about 3-4″ (or about 8-10cm) of each vine that you plan to propagate. On a plant like pilea depressa, the nodes — the little bumps on the stem where the leaves grow out of — are pretty close together, so just cut between two nodes at around that length.

On a plant with longer internodes — the length of stem between two nodes — you’ll want to cut it so that there’s just a bit of stem left on the piece that you cut off after a node. Some articles phrase this as “just above a node”, and some call it “just below a node”, and they’re confusingly both trying to say the same thing: have a node close to the end of the piece you’re cutting off.

You can see the stem dangling down with a node at the end here.

Next, strip the bottom leaves (or bottom two sets of leaves) off. Using scissors or a sharp knife is best. Basically, you don’t want leaves below the surface of the water, because they’ll rot; nodes are also where roots will form, and you want them to be under the water so they’ll grow.

The nice thing about a lot of plants with long vine-like stems, like pilea depressa, is that they may have aerial roots already established — little roots that have already formed in the air, that can help it climb up trees in the wild, but also help with vegetative propagation (which is the technical term for what we’re doing here).

The murder scene.

Once the leaves are stripped, place the stems in a container full of fresh water, making sure that the nodes are underwater, but the leaves are not.

(Some people suggest rooting hormone, even for water propagation; while I’ve tried it before, it just washes off. Besides, pilea depressa doesn’t need it!)

You can see the aerial roots in this bulb — two of my stems have a jumpstart! Nice.
The rest, however, do not. But that’s okay, I love them anyway.

Now, it’s a waiting game. Roots will likely take form pretty quickly — I’m hopeful it’ll be within a couple days, given how quickly pilea depressa grows — but you should wait until roots are pretty well-established before moving them to soil; I’ve seen some that say 2″/5cm as a minimum, but realistically, I’d say there’s no reason not to wait longer if you can stand it.

The aftermath.

I’ll be posting regular updates on my Instagram, so make sure to give me a follow there (and say hey); I’ll be posting a follow-up post that I’ll link here when I move these guys to soil in a month or two (probably)!

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