With its glossy, vibrant foliage, umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius) makes a great houseplant. Its long, green grass-like leaves flourish with minimal care. If you want more umbrella plants to fill your home or to give as gifts, propagating them is simple. Here are some easy methods for getting new umbrella plant babies for free!
Propagation by Division
Division is the easiest way to propagate an umbrella plant. As the plant matures and its clump grows larger, it can be divided into smaller sections. Here’s how:
Pick a mature, healthy parent plant that is at least 2-3 years old. Water it well and allow excess water to drain before dividing. Have a clean, sharp tool like a knife or garden spade ready. Sterilize the tool with rubbing alcohol first.
Remove from Pot
Turn the plant upside down and gently slide it out of its pot. Gently loosen the root ball and soil with your hands to expose the roots and rhizomes.
Looking at the root system, you should see natural divisions where you can separate the plant into smaller clumps. Use your sterilized tool to cut or pry the root ball into manageable sections. Each division should have 3-5 healthy stems and plenty of healthy roots.
Pot the Divisions
Plant each new division in its own small pot with fresh potting mix. Water well and let drain. Place in bright, indirect light while the new plants establish themselves.
Care for the newly divided plants just like a mature umbrella plant. Keep the soil moist but not soaked. Mist the leaves occasionally with water. Fertilize every few weeks during the growing season. The divisions will establish their own root systems in a few weeks and grow into full plants in a couple months.
Propagation by Plantlets
Some umbrella plant varieties produce tiny plantlets called pups around the base of the stems. These plantlets can simply be removed and replanted to propagate your umbrella plant.
Check the base of a mature, healthy umbrella plant. Look for tiny shoots growing up from the soil near the base of the stems. These little clones are the plantlets.
Remove and Replant
Carefully dig up the plantlets with roots attached. Plant each in its own small container filled with fresh potting mix.
Keep the potting mix moist and place the potted plantlets in bright, filtered light. Fertilize lightly every 2-3 weeks. The plantlets will grow into mature umbrella plants in a few months.
Propagation by Seed
If your umbrella plant produces flower heads that develop into seeds, you can collect and plant the seeds.
Collect Seed Heads
Allow the flowers to dry completely on the plant. The flower heads will turn brown and crispy when ready. Cut them off the plant and store in a paper bag.
Extract and Plant Seeds
Break open the dried flower heads and separate out the small black umbrella plant seeds. Plant seeds shallowly in starter trays filled with seed starting mix.
Keep the seed starting mix moist and provide bright light. Germination usually occurs in 1-2 weeks. Transplant the tiny seedlings into 3” pots when they are a few inches tall. Grow on just like mature plants.
Tips for Propagation Success
- Propagate in spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.
- Avoid overwatering which can lead to root rot in new plants.
- Propagate using healthy, vigorous parent plants.
- Keep newly propagated plants in their own pots until well established.
- Maintain warm temperatures and high humidity.
In no time you’ll have a bunch of brand new umbrella plants for your home or to give as unique gifts! It’s an easy way to get more of this beautiful houseplant.