How to propagate African Mask Plants (Alocasia Polly)

In this post, you’ll find the complete African Mask Plant propagation guide and all of our top tips to help you along the way.

Over the past year, African Mask Plants have become one of the most popular houseplants! They are the centrepiece of many plant shops around the world and you won’t have to meet many plant lovers to come across one of these beauties. Also known by their Latin name Alocasia Polly, African Mask plants are actually really easy to propagate. In this post, you’ll find the complete African Mask Plant propagation guide, including a step by step process, what tools you’ll need when propagating and all of our top tips to help you along the way.

Why propagate an African Mask Plant?

There are several reasons why you might choose to propagate your African Mask Plant. The main one is simply wanting to multiply the number of plants you have without actually having to buy any more. African Mask Plant cuttings also make great gifts for friends, especially when it might be hard for them to get their hands on their own. 

The other main reason why many plant parents choose to propagate is that their African Mask Plant is becoming too big for the space. Cutting your African Mask Plant can also stop it from becoming straggly or leggy. But instead of simply throwing away those beautiful African Mask Plant offshoots, why not propagate them and start a whole new mother plant. 

You may also want to propagate your African Mask Plant if you notice that part of it is starting to die. If you are unable to revive your plant, then propagating the healthy parts of it is a great way to save your African Mask Plant. 

What tools will I need to propagate my African Mask Plant?

Let’s start off with the easy part. It’s important to make sure you have all the right things before you start propagating!

 

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    Healthy and mature African Mask Plant 

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    Sharp scissors/shears

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    Spare pot(s)

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    Fresh soil and water

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    Newspaper or plastic sheet if you’re propagating indoors

What methods can I use to propagate my African Mask Plant?

Unlike many other houseplants, African Mask Plants grow from one central rhizome which means you can’t propagate through stem cuttings. It means that there is only really one way to successfully propagate an African Mask Plant which is through division of the mother plant. This means you will need quite a mature African Mask Plant with various natural offshoots to be able to make two or more plants out of it which can be an issue if your plant is quite young.

How to propagate an African Mask Plant through division

Follow this quick guide and hopefully you’ll have a successfully propagated African Mask Plant in no time!

 

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    Take your African Mask Plant out of its pot

    To propagate your African Mask Plant through division, you will need to find what natural offshoots there are in your plant. The first step is to carefully take your plant out of its pot. Hold on to the strongest stems whilst you slowly pull out the plant.

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    Loosen the soil 

    Once the plant is safely out of its pot, you’ll need to loosen the potting mix around the root system. A good way to loosen the soil is to run your fingers through the roots to start to separate them. 

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    Locate the various offshoots 

    When looking for a part of the plant to divide it will become very obvious if there are various offshoots on your African Mask Plant. They will be completely separate and growth will stem from the middle of each section. These are called rhizomes. 

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    Separate the sections 

    You may have to trim off the odd root if they aren’t detangling easily but you should be able to carefully pull the sections of your African Mask Plant apart. It’s okay if you have to slice around the plant a little with your scissors/ shears to separate them but just make sure that each section has strong roots to help your African Mask Plant propagation be successful

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    Place the section(s) in water or fresh potting mix

    Pot the main mother African Mask Plant back into its original pot (or downsize if you have taken a substantial amount off the plant). You will then need to decide whether you want to pot the sections in water or potting mix. This depends on the size of the new plant and the maturity of the root system.

    You can use a light monitor to figure out if you’re African Mask Plant cuttings are getting the right amount of sunlight. You can also supplement sunlight levels by using an LED grow light which are great at encouraging growth in cuttings. We love this one which is available on Amazon here. 

    It’s at this stage that you might choose to use rooting hormone. This will help to speed up root growth on the new cuttings. We have always found this rooting gel to be successful – you can buy it on Amazon here. 

    If the offshoot has quite mature roots then it will be totally fine growing in potting mix already. You’ll want to use fresh high-quality potting mix to ensure your new plants get all the nutrients they need. Our top choice for soil would be this potting mix from Miracle Gro. However, if you feel the roots need to grow a little more then we recommend placing them into water as a middle step. 

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    Refresh the water regularly 

    If you are growing your new African Mask Plant sections in water then you need to make sure you are changing this out regularly (every 2-3 days). This will stop the water from stagnating and breeding bacteria which can harm your plant’s health.

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    Continue normal African Mask Plant care

    Once your new plant is in fresh potting mix you can resume your usual African Mask Plant care. Make sure the new plants don’t get any intense direct sunlight as this can damage the leaves. 

    If your new sections grew in water then you will need to keep the potting mix slightly more moist for a few weeks. This is just to ease your plant into growing in potting mix and avoiding too much shock.

African Mask Plant Propagation FAQs

Propagating African Mask Plants is definitely easier than some other plants but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own set of problems, questions and difficulties. It’s really important to understand the basics, such as time of year, equipment and fertiliser needs. Below you will find all the answers to your African Mask Plant propagation questions!

We always recommend propagating houseplants in spring, and you want to do the same when propagating your African Mask Plant. Make sure that any wintery cold weather is behind you so that your new African Mask Plants are growing in warmer brighter months. 

Propagating your African Mask Plant in autumn or winter will mean growth is slower and cold temperatures will lead to an increased risk of root or leaf rot. But propagating African Mask Plants in spring gives the newly separated offshoots several months of warm bright days which will encourage healthy and strong roots and new growth. It will also mean your mother African Mask Plant plant has a good environment to recover quickly from the shock of propagation.

Rooting hormone can help to stimulate healthy strong roots which will help your propagation be a success. However, this is optional and you can have plenty of healthy growth without it. 

Rooting hormone comes in 3 forms: powder, liquid and gel. Using a powdered rooting hormone is very easy. Just dip the cutting into water and then into the powder before planting directly into fresh potting mix. The moisture will help the powder to stick to the cutting. Gel and liquid forms of rooting hormone work in a similar way but are great when choosing to propagate your African Mask Plant in water before potting mix.

Grow lights are great to use when propagating an African Mask Plant as they provide ideal light conditions for less mature plants. They are also great for seeds and small cuttings. 

LED lights are also beneficial for mature houseplants if your home doesn’t get much sunlight. They can help avoid problems such as slow and leggy growth so are a great investment.

It’s important to clean all of your tools before and after contact with any plant to stop cross-contamination between your houseplants. Scissors and shears can transfer pests and diseases across plants without you even knowing. 

Another crucial reason to clean your tools after touching the plant is that many houseplants are toxic, including the African Mask Plant. Therefore you want to make sure that there is no trace of the plant on your tools as this can be harmful to you and anyone who might come into contact with your tools.

Unfortunately, you can’t propagate an African Mask Plant from just a single leaf. This is because of the anatomy of the plant as roots grow from the central rhizomes. This means that division is the only good way to propagate African Mask Plants. You can also try to propagate through seeds but this is difficult, slow and not often successful so better to leave that to the professionals.

It’s best to stay away from any fertiliser until your plants have had a chance to recover from the shock of propagation. Usually, when propagating through cuttings, we recommend not fertilising until one year later. However, with African Mask Plant propagation, you are dividing the plant meaning the roots are already established. This means you can usually start to fertilise after a month or so.

The amount of new plants you can divide from your African Mask Plant depends entirely on the maturity of your mother plant. When dividing, you want to make sure that each section has a good amount of the overall root system. This will help speed up the growth of healthy new leaves.

Common problems when propagating an African Mask Plant

Propagating houseplants will never have a 100% success rate and you may encounter some problems along the way. But don’t worry, we have learnt the hard way to bring you all the different problems that might arise as well as what this means and how to solve them!

After dividing up your African Mask Plant into several new plants, it’s totally normal for them to be a little shocked. It can be quite an upheaval so you may see them lose the odd leaf a few days after propagation. 

But as long as the environment and care are right for your African Mask Plant, then new roots and leaves should start to grow soon. If you are propagating in less than ideal conditions then cooler temperatures or a lack of sunlight but be causing stunted growth. Here we recommend using an LED light or heat pad can help your plant thrive.

After dividing your African Mask Plant it is normal for the growth to start out a slow smaller. This is because the root system is less mature than that of the larger plant. Give it time and slowly the new leaves will start to get bigger and you can trim away the smaller leaves to encourage new healthy growth.

If the leaves on your new plants are turning yellow then it may be due to too much direct sunlight which has burnt or scorched the leaves. Root rot could be another cause so inspect the roots closely. 

We hope you have found this complete guide to African Mask Plant propagation useful. It’s never an exact science and some divisions of the plant will take longer to grow than others. But with the right methods, care and environment you shouldn’t have any issues!

Check out our African Mask Plant care guide for more information on how to care for your new plants after you’ve propagated them.


Written by Billy Dawson



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