Q. My schefflera looks like it's dying and I'd like to propagate it. How do you root cuttings from it?
A. It's easy. Rooting a cutting usually involves potting it up and creating a tent to maintain humidity, but Ralph Davis, brand manager of HGTVPro.com, a sister website of HGTV.com, recently used an easier method that's perfect when you don't have much room to work. You'll need only some rooting hormone, a paper towel, plastic wrap or a sandwich baggie and a pair of clippers or pruners. Select a healthy branchlet with a few leaflets, and remove it from the plant. Remove all but four to five sets of leaflets.
Fold a paper towel into a strip about two inches wide and 10 inches long. Wet the paper towel, and place a pinch of rooting hormone on it so that the stem of the cutting, when wrapped in the towel, will be in contact with the rooting hormone. Or, you can simply wet the bottom 1-1/2 inches of stem and dip it into a container of rooting hormone. Place the stem in the paper towel and roll it up, wrapping it snugly so that the stem end has good contact with the damp towel and rooting hormone.
Place the wrapped end of the cutting into a plastic sandwich bag, with the leaves outside the bag. Tighten the bag opening with a twist-tie to keep the moisture in. About once a week, add a little more water to the bag.
In just a few weeks, your cutting should have rootlets. Pot it in a good-quality potting soil, water to help settle the roots in, and place in mid-level (or higher) indoor light.
Ralph used this technique to propagate a schefflera that had been a housewarming gift. "Since there's some sentimental value attached to it, I'm quite gratified that I'll get to keep the plant going."
You can also root those leaflets you removed from the original cutting, and you can propagate other houseplants such as pothos, dieffenbachia and dracaena this way. Good luck!