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How to Grow Epiphytes From Cuttings

The term epiphyte refers to a type of plant that grows above ground on trees, rocks or manmade structures. Commonly known as air plants, epiphytes occur around the world in both temperate and tropical environments, but all rely equally on rain and wind-borne nutrients for survival. Many epiphytic plants possess a reputation for being difficult to propagate at home, but species such as orchid cacti and epiphytic Utricularia grow reliably from simple stem or leaf cuttings and will quickly put down roots if they are provided with somewhat warm, moist conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Coir
  • Medium-grit sand
  • Perlite
  • 3.5-inch starter pot
  • Floral snips
  • 1-gallon plastic bag
  • Spray bottle


    • 1

      Create a soil mix suited to rooting epiphytes. Combine equal measures finely milled coir, medium-grit sand and perlite. Mix the components together while pouring small increments of water over them. Keep mixing until the soil feels moderately moist.

    • 2

      Pack the soil mix into the bottom half of a 3.5-inch starter pot. Fill the top half of the pot with loosened soil. Set the pot aside while gathering the epiphyte cutting.

    • 3

      Select a cutting based on the type of epiphyte. Choose leaf cuttings from species such as orchid cactus and basal stem cuttings from epiphytic Utricularia. Make the cutting 2 to 4 inches in length. Use sharp, freshly cleaned floral snips to make the cutting.

    • 4

      Plant the cutting to half its length in the prepared starter pot. Press the soil around the cutting to increase contact and to remove any trapped air.

    • 5

      Place the starter pot inside a 1-gallon plastic bag to create a warm, moist greenhouse-like environment for the cutting. Leave a small gap in the opening of the bag to allow the trapped moisture to escape.

    • 6

      Set the potted epiphyte cutting where it will receive diffuse light of moderate to extreme brightness. Keep the cutting sheltered from direct sunlight to prevent wilting or scorching.

    • 7

      Mist the epiphyte cutting whenever the soil feels dry just below the surface. Spritz the soil two or three times to increase moisture without making the soil soggy.

    • 8

      Check for roots in three to four weeks by tugging the cutting with light to moderate force. Feel if it is attached to the soil mixture by roots.

    • 9

      Transplant the epiphyte cutting into a permanent pot filled with succulent formula potting soil one week after rooting. Place it under the same growing conditions as the parent plant.