Propagating Boston Ivy From Cuttings

(Question)

I have a cutting of Boston Ivy, from a friend.  I took off the bottom leaves, put the stem in water, and it’s under fluorescent lights 24/7, along with all my vegetable seedlings. Is this the correct way to propagate it? I have plenty of experience growing vegetables, but have never tried this!

 

 

(Answer)

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)  is not really a true ivy and is in same family as grape vines: Vitaceae. But it is able to grow up vertical surfaces with small tendrils equipped with adhesive pads and, like its relative Virginia creeper, turns red in the fall and is well loved as a deciduous, woody vine. Keep in mind that it will require annual pruning as it can be an aggressive growing vine.

Boston Ivy should root readily in water and you correctly removed bottom leaves to expose the nodes, from which, hopefully, roots will develop. But you may want to consider rooting your cutting in a pot, so you can employ a rooting hormone (powder, or gel) that will promote robust root growth, and deter fungus growth. Much like your vegetable seedlings, your cutting will need the proper medium, a good light source and moisture. Delicate roots, and root hairs, need room to develop, so use a soil-less mixture that will allow oxygen and water to permeate, but not compact, as potting soil tends to do. Consider using a cactus mixture, available in small bags. Or make your own blend, of 50/50 Perlite and peat moss. Whatever you use, you are aiming for a mixture that drains well, and will not get waterlogged. Place your cutting deeply into the mixture, so the nodes are covered. Water from the bottom, to encourage sturdy, deep, root growth. Next, you want to keep the humidity high until the roots start: mist frequently during the day, or place a clear plastic bag over the whole pot. Once the roots have established (take a peek from time to time), remove the plastic. Now, regarding light: until the root system is strong, your cutting will need to put the majority of its energy into growing roots, not the green leaves. So keeping the cutting under fluorescent light 24/7 will be counter-productive. Consider a day/night light schedule. Remember: most plant roots grow below ground surface, and do not require sunlight to develop. Allow the plant to populate the pot with roots before considering transplanting into a soil mixture. And take care to employ a gradual hardening-off of the newly-established plant before transplanting outdoors. All the very best with your first experiment with propagation from cuttings.