Propagation Tips and Tricks

This is a compilation of info derived from our ACTUAL experience with Monstera Albo plants and other hard-to-grow variegated species of Monstera, Philodendron's, Anthuriums, and many other plants not listed here. In addition to growing tropicals, exotics, and rare species of plants from around the world, I have grown cannabis in my youth for professional dispensaries in California (we do not grow that anymore) and I currently grow over four hundred food producing plants in my urban garden. I have experience doing tissue culture in my home laboratory, I have extensive hydroponics experience, aeroponics experience, aquaponics experience, etc. Needless to say, I have made a lot of mistakes along the way and that is what has helped me gain knowledge and experience, growing, and propagating plants. This information is provided for reference, propagation is not a guarantee, what works for us may not work for you. Over time you will develop your own skills, and your own means and methods which may work better than ours, feel free to share, we are open minded. 

Facts about Monstera Albo Borsigiana VS Monstera Deliciosa (non variegated): 

Propagating Monstera or any plant can be challenging. There are a few unique differences between propagating a traditional Monstera Deliciosa (green monstera) and a highly variegated Monstera Albo Borsigiana White Tiger.

The primary difference between a Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Albo Borsigiana is the white variegation in Monstera Albo causes slower growth due to a lack of chlorophyl which results in less or slower photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is the plant's process for generating the energy it needs to grow. Monstera albo does not need a leaf to photosynthesize, the stem will act just like a leaf, absorbing light, and generating energy to grow. The stems only have so much stored energy, if something goes wrong like damage to developing roots, or damage to a developing leaf, you can pretty much bet that your cutting will not make it. My recommendation is to avoid touching your cutting as much as possible. Do not remove your cutting from the moss to check the roots, do not remove your cutting to make an Instagram post, just leave it be and you drastically reduce the risk of damaging a developing leaf or root system.

Recommended Equipment and Light Duration: 

To accelerate growth, I recommend using inexpensive LED grow lights and FACING THE GREENEST PART OF YOUR CUTTING TOWARDS THE LIGHT. I have found that aquarium lights work better than the $25 amazon multi-head LED lights for me, try to find a good aquarium light. I use Hygger mostly because they are inexpensive and they work well, I also use Barrina lights, they are inexpensive and work great for outfitting an entire shelf or rack with lights. Sometimes blue or red light spectrum lights bother peoples eyes, which is why a daylight spectrum grow light might be more suitable for those with sensitive eyes. Do your research, not all lights are created equal. 

There are so many ways to propagate it comes down to preference and available equipment for most people. The two methods we use are the traditional propagator method, and water propagation. 

I prefer to use moist sphagnum moss and a traditional propagator in lieu of other methods, although other methods may work well, I find sphagnum moss and a propagator has the highest success rate thus far (thousands of cuttings later, I have performed the R&D myself).

 

Propagation in Water: 

If your cutting has an intact mature or semi-mature leaf, you can use the water propagation method. When propagating in water, fill a large clear container, preferably 16 oz or greater with TAP WATER. If you do not have tap water, use spring water and 1-2drops of bleach (large bodies of water tend to refrain from anaerobic bacterial growth much longer than small bodies of water). Change the water out DAILY, or anytime it is cloudy.  DO NOT USE WELL WATER, DO NOT USE AQUARIUM WATER, DO NOT USE RAIN WATER, DO NOT USE PURIFIED WATER LIKE REVERSE OSMOSIS OR DRINKING WATER, DO NOT USE ANY OTHER WATER THAN TAP OR SPRING WATER WITH TAP BEING PREFERRED. Tap water is loaded with nasty chemical additives that the water company adds to the water to keep bacteria and fungi from proliferating. These nasty additives are excellent for preventing bacterial and fungal growth on the submerged part of your cutting. If you must use spring water, make sure its not purified water and it actually comes from a spring. Purified water has little to no mineral content and is not good for plants, it might work for a while but after time, your plant will develop a deficiency that is really hard to pinpoint, and it could die or be stunted. Spring water has essential micronutrient elements like calcium and magnesium from the water naturally percolating through rocks which is what purifies the water in the first place. This info is also true for human beings, purified water is not very good for you, do some research on that. Reverse osmosis water is terrible for plants unless a remineralizer is used, it's also really bad for humans and animals unless you have a remineralizer. Professional growers use reverse osmosis water for hydroponics, it is the only way to go, however, they also PH adjust the water, and add a micronutrient supplement such as Cal-Mag. 

 

Propagation using a Traditional Propagator and Sphagnum Moss:

To prepare the sphagnum for propagation, soak it with pure water, tap water is OK as well. Squeeze out 95 percent of the moisture, basically as much as you can. Line a propagator bottom with the sphagnum moss, the moss will create not only a substrate for your plant, but it will also create a higher localized humidity. 

Place your cutting with the most green facing the light, the cutting should remain on top of the sphagnum moss, not inside of it. If you put the cutting inside the moss, it cannot photosynthesize and it may survive, but it could also die off from lack of light. Try to keep the ends of your cutting clear from the moss by placing a small bit of moss to slightly elevate the cutting. 

Provide 24-hour LED grow light (less than 16 hours will cause your cutting to stop growing) and CONSISTENT temperatures between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, do not exceed 80 degrees for an extended period of time or mold and bacterial may start to take over and try to avoid dropping below 70 degrees, the plant or cutting could stop growing or slow its growth / root / leaf development. 

The biggest factor is to have consistent temperatures, meaning if you can keep the propagator at 75 degrees without fluctuation, you will have the best chance of success. To achieve this in the winter, you can use a heating mat. I recommend only using a heating mat with an accompanying thermostat. The thermostat probe should be placed in the center of the propagator and it should be set to 75 degrees. You can place your propagator inside of a cardboard box to make a mini "room", if your ambient air temps are too low for the heating mat to work. It is easy to cook the cuttings with a heating pad if a thermostatic controller is not used, heating pads for plants do not have internal temperature regulators, they are either on at full power or off and that is why a thermostatic controller is a critical piece of equipment when using a heating mat. Sometimes in the summer we connect our lights to a thermostatic controller to ensure the lights are turned off when temps get to 80 degrees. It is far better to have some means to turn off the light temporarily until temperatures return to normal, than to come home from work and find your cutting was cooked by the lights increasing the temperature in the propagator. Never set the lights directly on the propagator dome, they can be really close to the dome, but should not be laying on top of it. When lights are laid right on top of the dome, the temperatures inside the propagator climb to unsafe levels quickly. 

With 24-hour light, consistent temperatures between 70-82 degrees inside of your traditional propagator, all you have to do is maintain moisture in the sphagnum and periodically check to make sure there is no mold forming. Ideally you want to open up your propagator every day to allow for some air exchange, this will prevent anaerobic bacterial growth and fungal growth. 

Visually, you will notice the sphagnum getting a lighter color and that means it is drying out. Gently mist your cutting and the sphagnum surrounding it in the propagator with purified water every few days. If the moss becomes soggy, you've overwatered and will need to squeeze out the excess moisture. You can add some kelp to your mist, you can add Clonex solution to your mist water, but none of that is necessary, although it can help speed up the growth rate. 

You can use rooting hormones, but be cautious, some hormones can cause more harm than good. I recommend Clonex rooting gel, but again this is not necessary, Monstera plants are naturally prolific growers and they root with great vigor. Use caution and follow the instructions with rooting hormones. 

A lot of folks ask if they really need to purchase a traditional propagator. I always recommend the use of a traditional propagator (small container with clear lid and vents). The reason is, you can better control the environment with the proper equipment. If you decide to DIY a propagator, be sure to at least model it after a traditional propagator with a clear lid, dark bottom, and vents. Do not attempt to seal your node off into a small container, sealing the lid creates anaerobic bacterial growth and the perfect environment for failure. Unfortunately it is quite common for folks to seal their propagator off, allowing no fresh air to keep the humidity high. This is not correct, you need passive airflow, meaning vents and you must augment the moisture by misting or moistening the moss. Do not add fans, they will dry out your cutting, do not over think it whenever possible, keep it simple. 

 

Monstera Myths and Misinformation:

There is a lot of misinformation going around these days in Facebook Groups discussing node cuttings and many other plants. It is great to see new friends in the plant community but it would be wonderful if the conversations about means and methods for plant care were discussed only by people who know what they are doing. It is not right to spread misinformation and parrot what others say without your own real-world experience. The folks in these groups, generally speaking, are not experts, some do not even have actual experience and are just repeating what others have said and it causes real harm, other people listen to you when you explain things to them so if you do not know what you are doing, ask an expert for help instead of pretending to know it all. I recommend you fact check everything you hear. A few common misconceptions I hear all the time are:

My node cutting is too small to root (wrong, I have rooted cuttings as small as my fingernail and grown plants from them without issue)

My node cutting doesn't have a node (maybe, if you got it from someone else, I can't guarantee it has a node, but if you purchased it from us, it has at least one node and is a viable cutting)

I am a botanist, and I know what to do, and I still failed, its your fault for selling me a bad cutting (maybe you're educated on plants, and plant science, but monstera albo requires specific care and it is plausible that your education does not lend itself to monstera albo propagation, we sell only the best quality cuttings)

I grew a regular monstera no problem, and the monstera albo died, it's all your fault, you gave me a bad cutting (Well, sorry to say but a regular monstera is super easy to root and grow and monstera albo's are not easy at all, they can fool even the experts, which is why we monitor our cuttings for several weeks before shipping them out to our customers, giving them the best possible chance of success)

You sold me a spent node, it will never root and never form a leaf (we do not sell "spent" nodes, and "spent node theory" is a theory, which we do not subscribe to and have debunked in our own laboratory. Spent node theory is part truth, part fiction, once a node cutting has a secondary growth point, if you cut that growth point off too close to the original node, you can cause a serious delay in growth and in some rare cases, a leaf may never emerge again. We do not participate in these practices and that is why it is very important to know the source of your plant material, and only shop with trusted sources)

Someday, I will be releasing some content on my preferred platform (YouTube) soon to dispel the monstera myths and provide some actual real world advice for folks trying to give themselves the best chance of success with their propagation efforts. In the meantime, if there is anything you need clarified, or if you want to talk about plants, please email me or reach out to my sales channel messaging systems so we can discuss plants in further detail. 

 

 

LINKS TO SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT WE USE TO GROW MANY PLANT CUTTINGS:

Here are the supplies we use for growing the albo nodes:

You can find a MEDIUM PROPAGATOR here (fits most leaf cuttings): https://amzn.to/3QV1iuD

You can find a SMALL PROPAGATOR here (fits most node cuttings): https://amzn.to/3RjuxqL

You can find good quality SPHAGNUM MOSS here: https://amzn.to/3PVKzpu

You can find a good quality GROW LIGHT here: https://amzn.to/3wwTeYL

You can find CLONEX CLONE & SEEDLING SOLUTION here: https://amzn.to/3R0ynW2

You can choose to get larger or smaller propagator depending on the type of cutting you selected. You do not need to use clonex solution but we do find it helps when used in a sprayer. We use 3-5ml clonex in a 16 oz sprayer and spray daily for stubborn or new cuttings. You can spray as many times as you want, if the moss gets saturated just wring it out or replace it, don’t let it stay soggy for too long.