enter image description here

Hello. Does anyone know what plant this is and how I can grow a cutting?

It's tall, breast height if I remember correctly, with massive leaves 20-30 cm in diameter.


This plant looks like a type of hollyhock. If that is true, it may be an annual or biennial plant. Depending on the species, it could also be perennial.

If you have any photos or are able to provide a description of the flowers, that will assist in providing a better answer. To update your answer with additional information, click ‘Edit’ button and type in at the end of your original post.

If it’s an annual or biennial species, the best method to propagate a plant such as this is to collect and dry the seed and, in the following spring / start of growing season, plant the seed in seed raising mix and water regularly.

If it’s a perennial, seed collection will also work, but you have another option. At the end of the growing season, slice of a part of the root ball, with or without leaves and pot this cutting in very well drained quality potting mix. Leave it in a warm position over winter / off season and wait for new growth in spring. (Note the plant may need to be better established, one or two more growing seasons, for this method to work such that the “parent” plant will survive.)

Growing a plant such as this from stem or leaf cutting may be possible, however that requires far more effort and care. If you’re up to trying that, you will need a way to maintain soil and air temperature and moisture for optimal growing conditions. In such a growing environment, the growing medium must remain moist (but not damp) and require daily observation to ensure cuttings survive. There are many ways to grow cuttings to achieve these conditions. A cheap and easier way to start this type of propagation, is to re-use a clear plastic food container with a loose fitting lid, with holes punched in the base for drainage. See photos for examples. Your cuttings in such a container will need to sit in a sunny warm position (but not hot) in your home where you are reminded to provide the growing container and it’s contents with constant attention. Also worth noting that for plants such as this and in my experience, softwood cuttings work best, but not tip cuttings (although these may survive). I’d recommend each cutting contain at least three leaf nodes. I’d also recommend that the bottom one but preferably two leaves be removed. In this way, the bottom two nodes on the stem are planted in the growing medium and the top node with leaf is exposed to air. Good growing media for cuttings include sand, seed raising mix, coir (fine shredded coconut fibre), peat moss or a combination, depending on drainage and moisture retention requirements.


You mention that the plant is to be eliminated soon, so I recommend the following steps to attempt to propagate... both involve removal of the plant now with as much root ball intact as practically possible...

  1. After removing the plant including roots, count three nodes up from the base of the plant. A node is where the original leaf grew out from the primary stem (think "trunk" if it was a tree). At least 2.5cm / 1 inch above the third node, cut on a slight angle with sharp scissors or secateurs (preferably sterilised - boiling water or flame - but not essential). This bottom piece will become your root cutting stock, the top piece will become your leaf cutting stock.
  2. Take the bottom piece, using same scissors or secateurs, trim off any damaged or dead roots and cut all roots back so that they are no longer than 20-30cm / 8-12 inches. Using premium potting mix (do not buy the cheap stuff it is a waste of your valuable time and effort) and a 10-12.5cm / 4-5 inch diameter plastic or terracotta pot, plant the bottom piece, so that the base of the plant is level with the top surface of the potting mix. Don't pack the potting mix in tight, but gently push in on four sides. Water the potting mix and where it collapses, top up to level with the base of the plant. If you can procure some pea straw or lucerne / alfalfa hay, use a 2.5cm / 1 inch layer of this material across the surface of the potting mix as a mulch. At worst, a thinner layer of lawn clippings will suffice. Do not fertilise at this time (but read below for tonic).
  3. Take the top piece, using same scissors or secateurs, cut the main stem into sections of three nodes each. Carefully cut off all the original large leaves that attach to the main stem. Be careful not to damage any small shoots (lateral growth) that are growing from that point where the original large leaves attach to the main stem. Having written that, remove any growth from the bottom node. Maybe you have five to ten pieces of cutting material? Grab two to four pots, same size as above and fill with premium potting mix. Again don't pack the potting mix in tight, but gently push in on four sides. Water these and top up as required. Then, place two or three cuttings, equally spaced, in each pot. Use a small stick about the same diameter of the stem to push a hole into the potting mix. then push each cutting into the hole, to a depth such that the middle / second node is slightly buried and any shoots from that node are exposed to the light. Again water in. I find that finely shredded coconut fibre is excellent to use as a mulch for cuttings - across the top 1cm / 0.5 inch - it retains moisture, which keeps the cutting material in constant contact with essential moisture.

Immediately after you have finished the work involved in completing these steps, mix up a half strength solution of liquid seaweed tonic and apply generously to all the pots - the bottom cutting and all top cuttings.

Place all the pots in a shady position, with preferably an hour or two of morning sun. Watch that the leaves do not begin to dry out - if they do, place all the pots in full shade.

Water daily for the first week, depending on weather - the intention is to maintain constant moisture throughout the potting mix, not sodden or boggy, just damp. Watering can be reduced in the second or third week.

Do not fertilise your cuttings until you witness strong new growth - maybe a few days to a few weeks or even a few months, depending on climate and time of year. Any fertiliser applied before this stage will simply overwhelm the cuttings as they attempt to reestablish themselves in their new environment. Use a gentle fertiliser such as well rotted / decomposed cow manure. A very little sprinkling of granular potassium sulphate will also help. Place fertiliser/s on the surface of the potting mix but not against the cutting stem, beneath the mulch. Top up the mulch at this time (if necessary). The combination of cow manure and mulch will help to build soil microbiology. Healthy soil = healthy plant.

Once you have strong new growth, its time to start to reintroduce your cuttings into light. Do this gradually over time, exposing them to more and more light each week.

Finally be patient. Some of my more unusual cuttings have taken 6-12 months to begin to grow.

Let me know how you go!

 example of plastic container example of plastic container

  • Great information. Thanks. Unfortunately it's not flowering or seeding at the moment, and will be eliminated soon, meaning if I save it now is my only chance. I took ten leaf cuttings and every single one dried up and died. No great gardener am I.
    – Johan88
    Dec 13 '18 at 2:34
  • You still have a couple of options if the plant is to be eliminated soon... I’ll update my answer. Dec 13 '18 at 6:44

I have an alternate suggestion for this plant - Monkey's Hand or Piper peltatum. A key factor here is that the leaf seems to be peltate, that is the leaf petiole joins the blade somewhat towards the middle of the leaf and not the margin. I can't find any reference to it as a tree, just a size up to a couple of metres high, but in the tropics all sort of strange things happen in the humid heat. Also note the way the petiole base clasps the stem. I would provide a link to a reference but there does not seem to be one that provides an encyclopedic overview.

With tropical materials, stem cuttings with a leaf are often successful when humidity can be maintained.

  • Large leaves is consistent with P. peltatum. Chiranthodendron seems to be quite different; the leaves are lobed, like maple. Jan 6 '19 at 12:07
  • Thanks ! The Piper Peltatum is an interesting suggestion. Do you know when it's seeds emerge?
    – Johan88
    Jan 6 '19 at 14:12
  • I put up my tree as another question. You can suggest Monkey's Hand there and edit it out of this answer. Thank you so much. You might've just identified both my plants in one go. Been waiting a long time to see any other suggestions on this plant.
    – Johan88
    Jan 6 '19 at 14:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.