Rooting stubborn Philodendrons
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Rooting stubborn Philodendrons

Propagation can be fun, but rooting is not always an easy process. Neither for plants or the plant parents. All Aroid growers have at least one. One Philodendron that just WON’T root, no matter the efforts. Here are some of my thoughts on this problem and three solution proposals. If you already tried them, then share your opinion about them.

Roots and rooting in Araceae family

Hormones a co-factors

First of all there are two types of roots that Aroids produces, namely the feeder roots and the anchor roots. The purpose of the latter is to, as you imagine, attach the plant to the substrate and give support. The feeder roots extend to the soil and supply the plant with water and nutrients.

There are number of anatomical, physiological and morphological differences between these roots. We can find the feeder roots near the insertion of the foliage leaf, meanwhile the anchor roots are placed nearby at the insertion of the subjacent prophyll. As you probably guess, what we care about in a cutting is to help develop a feeder root.

Often we buy a cutting, happy that there are roots already, but we have to actually pay more attention. Feeder roots are relatively narrow, buy thicker than the anchor roots and negatively phototrophic, which means they will go down to get with the contact with the substrate.

Rooting proces is one of the most complex metabolical endeavours of our green friends, and it engages a lot of metabolic pathways in and between the plant cells. These pathways require the presence of hormones called auxins (you might have heard of them already!), and so called rooting co-factors. These are among others: ascorbic acid (vitamin C), thiamine (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). It just so happens that these are water-soluble vitamins, so it makes our efforts easier.

Now, a lot of rooting solutions or powders contain one or the other ingredients in different quantities. They also have ingredients that stimulates hormone production in the plant itself.

Every day we take the opinion that almost everything is known about the world of plants. This is a huge misconception. It is still a very mysterious branch of science and the rooting process itself has not yet been fully worked out. There are several hypothesis about the mechanism by which cells engage in this type of activity and it has a lot to do with potassium and the protons distribution trough the proton pump placed in the cell wall.

To summ this up. We can help the plant root by providing appropriate conditions that include the right amount of light, temperature, humidity and substrate composition (including necessary chemical compounds).

Why my Philodendron isn’t rooting

Some mistakes that I’ve made

Well as I mentioned before, we need those feeder roots to give our cutting a chance. In my opinion, the cause of difficult rooting is usually the presence of roots that cannot be transformed into feeder roots, while all of the nodes in out cutting are already occupied by them.

How to root a stubborn Philodendron

3 ideas

If you haven’t try those methods, I encourage you to experiment with less precious cuttings at first, to get used to the process and observe how the Philodendrons are reacting. Maybe you will have to adjust some of the steps to your personal apartment conditions.

Method 1

Air layering with a twist

It is a basic method for climbers, but it demands a little practice to keep the moss well attached and moist. It requires an actual growing plant, and takes about 2-3 months, but this is the safest method if you are scared to cut your plant.

You will need: sphagnum moss, a capsule or a food wrap, two rubber bands, rooting powder/solution.


  1. Moisten your sphagnum with warm water.
  2. Then put it tightly (I mean it) around the node that you wish to root.
  3. Spray with a Boom Boom spray or Rhizotonic solution.
  4. Wrap the food wrap tightly (again, very) around the moss and close with a rubber band on each side.
  5. Put your plant in a warm and sunny place.
  6. If the moss dries out, repeat the procedure.
  7. Spray foliage with a Rhizotonic solution 2-3 times (PER DAY!) for two weeks.

Method 2

You can do it!

I find this method the best when not equipped in aeropropagation station.

You will need: a cutting ;), perlite, warm water, container for the cutting and for the water, a zipper bag.

  1. Cut about 2,5 cm below the nod and leave the cutting for 2-3 hours without water.
  2. Put the cutting in a container with moist, warm perlite and then in a zipper-bag. 
  3. Add water on the bottom of the bag, or on a pot holder and close.
  4. Leave in a bright place, but about 2-3 meters from the direct light. Keep it above 21 (70 F) degrees Celsius.
  5. Best not to open it for 2-3 weeks, so just forget about it.

Method 3


The most efficient and quick way in my opinion. Can be a little tricky in the beginning as you have to keep an eye on the temperature of the water that likes to cool very quickly in such a large tank.

You will need: a cutting, an aeropropagator, Rhizotonic, a grow light.

  1. Make a cutting as described below and put it in an Aeropropagator.

AEROPROPAGATOR SOLUTION: 10l of water with 40ml of Rhizotonic.

2. CRUCIAL – Adjust the pH on the level of: 5.4-6.2 (optimal for root growth).

3. Keep the temperature above 16 (60F) degrees Celsius.

4. Turn on your aeropropagator for at least 3h per day. 

5. Add growlight 12-16h per day (mine works at 45%). I use MarsHydro TS-1000 at 45%.

6. In 7 days you should have roots ready.

That is all Folks! As usual tell me what you think on instagram or here in the comment section!

*Source:  S.J. Mayo The Genera of Araceae, Balogh Scientific Books, 1997

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