Houseplants how to Care for Mother of Thousands

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There are several genera of plants that claim the common name "Mother of thousands". Tolmiea menziesii is a variety of plant native to the West Coast of the United States and Alaska. The more common names for this unique plant includes Mother of thousands, the Piggyback plant, and Youth on age. All three of these names are derived from the distinct way this plant produces new leaves.

Where the leaf meets the stem, small baby plants are produced and appears to be riding "piggyback" on the mother leaf. Due to this feature, new plants can be created from simple cuttings. The leaf that is carrying the baby plant can be cut off and the stem placed in damp soil. Soon the cutting will begin to root and produce a new plant. Some plant enthusiast choose an alternate method by placing long stems still attached to the plant into a nearby pot of moist soil. When the stem has rooted, it is merely cut away from the "host" plant and you have an instant potted plant.

This species does best in a humid environment but should not be misted. The soil should stay slightly moist and prefers cooler temperatures that average 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Pests are a common problem with this variety including red spider mites and mealy bugs.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana is also referred to as the Mother of thousands plant, the Devil's backbone and the Mexican hat plant. This variety is native to Southwest Madagascar and is considered a succulent. This would not be considered a proper choice for a houseplant in homes that have children or pets as all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested. This plant also produces leaf-like stems from the mother plant that can be propagated to produce new plants.

This relative to the cactus prefers sun to partial shade and should not be watered heavily. The potting soil should be a sand mixture like that typically used to grow the cactus. Fertilizing should be done occasionally during the growing season (March through October) and withheld during the winter months. This unique plant can live outdoors but should be moved indoors during the winter especially in regions that drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

And lastly, the Saxifraga sarmentosa tricolor has been dubbed the Mother of thousands as well as Magic carpet. These plants are best suited for hanging baskets as their stems tend to trail off and produce the plantlets at the end of these runners. The plantlets can be propagated easily in moist soil with the stem being trimmed away after the plant has rooted.

The Saxifraga tricolor prefers cool to average room temperatures and should not be left outdoors when temperatures drop to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below. This plant needs light but should be placed away from direct sunlight. Liberal watering is needed but should be reduced during the winter months. The leaves can be misted occasionally and repotting needs done each spring.

All of these plants are fairly easy to care for but are quite different in appearance. Their only similarity besides being plants, may be the way they produce the "plantlets" or sometimes referred to as "baby plants" from the mother plant. They have their own care requirements and all three are favorites because of the unique "growths" from the mother plant. Each of these varieties of plants will grow beautifully indoors and will make a wonderful addition to most any room in your home.


PLANTEPEDIA, by Maggie Stuckey, copyright 2005.

THE HOUSE PLANT EXPERT, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon, copyright 1994.

More about this author: Angie Pollock

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