This tutorial is part of Garden Week here at Crafting a Green World. We’ve teamed up with some of our favorite DIY bloggers to talk about all things gardening!
Gardening can be scary if you don’t think that you have a green thumb. Why waste your money on expensive potting soil and plant starts, if you don’t think they’ll grow? Why spend a bunch of time weeding and watering, only to be disappointed?
If you’re new at gardening, the plant for you is the wandering Jew, or inchplant. It’s in the spiderwort family, so it’s a great houseplant–easy to care for, attractive, and kind of dangly when it’s grown a lot, so that you can set it in a hanging planter or let it trail off the edge of a bookshelf.
My favorite thing about the wandering Jew, however, is that it’s crazy easy to propagate. Not only does this make for an excellent kid’s gardening project, but, unlike much of life, it lets you get more plants for practically free! If you’ve got a grown-up wandering Jew, some extra pots, and good potting soil, then you’ve got yourself another six to a dozen wandering Jews right there for the taking. Here’s how:
1. Prepare a temporary water home for the wandering Jew cuttings. Propagating the wandering Jew is a two-step process that’s separated by several days; this is a bonus, because it means that each step takes just minutes.
First, you’ll want to put the cuttings in water until they grow roots, so prepare this water hotel for the cuttings now. Because this particular transplanting activity was also a science project for my kids, we got out our test tube rack and test tubes, and filled them mostly full of tap water. But if you don’t have a bunch of test tubes lying around–and that’s probably the more normal way to live your life–then you can use any sort of narrow container whatsoever.
Shot glasses? Jelly jars? Vases? Kid-sized cups? They all make great temporary homes for your wandering Jew cuttings.
2. Make cuttings from the wandering Jew. Grab a sharp pair of scissors, and begin to hack up your beloved wandering Jew.
Now, do not make this harder than it needs to be. All the important people will tell you to sterilize your scissors, and cut at a certain angle, and cut exactly at this or that certain place, and cut exactly this or that certain amount. You can do all this, absolutely, but if you did all that, you’d have a green thumb. And you don’t have a green thumb, do you?
The way that I’ve propagated my wandering Jews for years isn’t the “best” way, but it works perfectly for me. I use scissors–any old scissors–and cut my wandering Jew just above a leaf, so that I don’t leave the plant with a random stem sticking out above its highest leaf. Then I clip the lowest set of leaves off of the cutting, so that the cutting will have a node from which to grow new roots.
I put the cuttings in water, making sure that any nodes that I want roots to sprout from are covered, but that any leaves that I want to not rot and die are not covered. Then I set everything in a sunny window and leave it alone.
3. Watch the plant root right before your eyes. Keep an eye on the plant once a day or so, topping up the water whenever it needs it. This is another great chore to hand off to the kids–they can keep a journal of updates about the cuttings, especially because one day, they’re going to be able to write in that journal that their cuttings are starting to grow roots!
4. Transplant the cuttings into pots. Any day after all the cuttings have roots, but before the roots get giant and unwieldy, find a nice few minutes to set out little pots, and potting soil.
Fill each pot about halfway full of potting soil (get a really good kind!), then pick up a cutting stand it up gently in the pot, and scoop more soil in all around it until the cutting looks happy and settled. Water it well, and put it back in another sunny window, where you’ll water it as needed and watch it grow.
Don’t actually need six to a dozen more wandering Jews? My kids and I tend to give away all of our propagated wandering Jews in the few months after we’ve transplanted them. There’s always a special kid who my kids think would quite like a wandering Jew for their birthday instead of one more toy, always a housewarming or dinner party or get-together at which a wandering Jew is even more welcome than a sixteenth gifted bottle of wine, always a graduating senior who’s definitely not going to get cash from me, but is going to get something nice to set on their dorm room windowsill.
And when all the transplanted wandering Jews have finally gone away, well, there’s always another wandering Jew to propagate!
14 CommentsLeave a Reply
Ooh I am new to this plant! I was just talking to a friend about how I had to abandon my house plants because Darrol is into eating the dirt right now. When he gets past this phase, I’m going to add Wandering Jew to my list of house plants to get.
It’s non-toxic to cats, according to ASPCA, so just right for our house. They do say it’s toxic to dogs, but our dog has shown zero interest in house plants, so she will be fine.
We are just starting to add houseplants back into our lives. While we don’t have a lot of space, I think the plants will help make our indoor air healthier. Might have to see about getting this next time I am at the store!
I always forget about that, but yes, indoor plants are AWESOME for air quality! I’ve heard there are species that are better than others–I’ll have to look it up.
Oh, if you look it up, that means I can just mooch off your knowledge (it’s kinda a recurring theme I think).
Hi. I have the worst luck with this plant. It grows, yes, but then it dies at the root. Over and over and over and it is endless!! Why does it do this? I water once a week, it is inside, in a morning sun window. Why does it keep dying at the root?
Do you think there might be something in your soil or your water that could be poisoning it? You could do an experiment, perhaps–water one pot with filtered water, or change your brand of potting soil, etc.
Dies at the root? Does the bottom part of the stem shrivel up? Starting from the roots and working it’s way up? Sounds like root rot to me. It comes from too much water or from the plant sitting in wet soil for a long time without getting the chance to dry out. It causes a fungus to grow and spread starting in the roots and eventually killing the plant.
Why won’t my clippings root in my glasses of water? No roots in over 2 weeks. ????????
Anyone have any wandering Jew slips hey could sen? Macmikeal(at)me(dot)com
I am trying to reboot a wandering Jew . Can you help me
Thank you for this, by instinct I threw some cuttings that broke off the plant into a cup of water and white strings starting to appear after only days. Actually I was googling to confirm what I was seeing was in fact roots, and thanks to your knowledge I can confirm they are. Now I know what to do after roots get to the point of planting. Trying this with a Pilea as well.
Hello! I have already gotten to the potting process, so thank you for the propagation advice. How long does it normally take to make the plant big? My biology teacher mom wants to use the plant in a year in one of her labs, but she needs a full-sized plant. Will the cutting become full-sized and spilling over the sides of the pot in a year or is that too little time?
I think you could easily have a big and happy plant by then! If you want a plant with several vines, not just one, then propagate a new cutting and plant it in the same pot every few weeks. I recently saw a video where someone took the vine and used a bobby pin to pin it back to the soil at one of the nodes, and she claimed that the vine would root there without having to cut it, and she said it made her plant big and fluffy. I haven’t tried it for myself, but it’s on my to-do list!