Propagating your houseplants is an easy, budget-friendly way to grow your plant family and share your rare or expensive plants with fellow plant lovers. This guide will walk you through different propagation methods and some of the easiest plants to propagate.
What Propagation Methods Are There?
Houseplant propagation is the act of growing a new plant from a piece or cutting taken from a fully-grown ‘mother’ plant. There are many different ways to propagate houseplants; however, the most common methods are rooting stem cuttings, rooting leaves, and plant division.
Rooting a Stem Cutting
Propagating plants from stem cuttings is exactly as it sounds: you grow a new plant from a piece of stem taken from the mother plant. Once you have your cutting, you can place it in either water or damp soil. We like using water, however, as watching a brand-new root system develop in a clear glass or vial of water is incredibly gratifying! If you choose to root your cuttings in soil, you can either stick the cutting directly into damp soil or dip it in rooting hormone first.
Rooting a Leaf
Rooting a leaf is similar to rooting a stem cutting; however, instead of taking a piece of stem, you take your cutting from a leaf or cluster of leaves. It’s also trickier than other propagation methods because you need to take a very clean cutting from the mother plant for it to succeed. Additionally, you must ensure that your cutting’s cut edge dries and scabs over properly to prevent rot.
The leaf rooting method works best when propagating a wide variety of succulents, as succulent leaves can miraculously take root by being placed on top or directly into moist soil.
Plant division is a pretty straightforward propagation method where you simply divide a plant into two or more new ones. Sometimes, this can be as easy as gently pulling the plant apart and dividing the root system by hand. Other times, you may need to use a sterile and sharp knife to perform the division.
Plant division works best for plants with clustered or spreading growing patterns. For example, some plants, particularly herbs like thyme, mint, and chives, are bought from the garden centre as a cluster in the same pot, which makes for easy plant division. Other houseplants grow large and bushy over time, making it easy to separate and repot them as two or more individual plants.
The Best Plants to Propagate
Vining or trailing plants—like tradescantia, pothos, and heartleaf philodendron—are some of the easiest to propagate using stem cuttings. To do so, take a cutting using a pair of sterile and sharp scissors, ensuring that you’ve left a node or two on your cutting’s stem. Nodes are the little bumps you can see on the plant’s stem and are where the roots will sprout from. Also, remove some of the lower leaves on your cutting’s stem before placing them in water, as you don’t want them to soak.
Plants That Bear Pups or Plantlets
Some houseplants, including snake plants, spider plants, and Chinese money plants, produce pups or plantlets, which are tiny, identical “mini me’s” of the mother plant. Pups and plantlets grow around their mother plant’s base, and can be easily removed by gently twisting and pulling them out or using a pair of sharp and sterile scissors. You can then easily propagate the newly-removed pups or plantlets in soil or water. Whichever method you use, it’s best to first remove the mother plant from its pot to make it easier to see where to remove the pups. It’s also very important to keep your new baby plants well-hydrated, so keep an eye on their moisture levels!
Succulents tend to have shallow root systems, making them incredibly easy to propagate using a stem cutting or simply taking a leaf off the mother plant. Depending on the plant, you can root your cuttings in water or place them directly in or on the soil. Some succulent stem or leaf cuttings require a day or two to scab over before they’re propagated to prevent rot, while others can be propagated immediately. Examples of succulents which are especially easy to propagate include the jade plant, burro’s tail, string of pearls, aloe, and sedum.
If you’re wanting to try your hand at propagating houseplants with some of the varieties we’ve mentioned here, or you’re looking for tips on growing your existing collection, stop by Mother Nature in Powell River, BC, today! Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will be happy to point you in the right direction and answer any questions you might have!