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Science-based gardening information, videos, & resources created for Colorado communities with support from Green Industry.

1324 – Piggy Back Plant   arrow

Piggy back plant

The durable and easy-to-grow piggyback plant (Tolmiea menziesii) is a favorite of plant lovers of all ages. Also termed ‘youth-on-age’ and ‘thousand mothers’, this plant is characterized by its unusual reproductive traits. The piggyback plant is viviparous, meaning bears live young; a viviparous plant reproduces from buds that form plantlets while still attached to the parent plant. Plantlets “piggyback” off parent plants, forming from the petiole near the base of each leaf, then falling onto the soil to root.

This species has bright to dark green, hairy leaves and trailing stems. The beauty of their long, delicate stems is best displayed in hanging baskets. Smaller plants can be established in plastic or clay pots, then shifted to an eight- to ten-inch hanging basket.

The piggyback plant will adapt to a variety of light levels: bright, moderate, or low light. This plant should be placed in indirect or filtered sunlight to avoid burning tender leaves. An east- or west-facing window will provide the best exposure for the piggyback plant. May is the best time to move your plant outdoors for the summer months. Place your plant in filtered shade, and be sure to bring it back indoors by early September. The piggyback plant will grow in a wide range of temperatures, but the average daily temperature should be above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Night-time temperatures should range between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The soil for piggy back plants should be evenly moist. The most successful growers check their plants daily and water only when necessary. If the soil feels dry, apply enough water until fluid drips from the base of the container. Discard the excess water. Feed your piggyback plants liquid fertilizer monthly between May and September; and every six to eight weeks during the remaining months. Remember to take note of fertilizer dilutions and manufacturer instructions to avoid leaf scorch caused by fertilizer burn.

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