How to propagate houseplants
Propagating means turning one plant into many. It’s incredibly easy to do and a good way to clone your favourite plants.
Propagating is simply taking part of a mature plant and growing it into a whole new plant. It’s straightforward and anyone can do it. Here’s how to propagate your indoor plants.
There are three different ways of propagating houseplants:
- Cuttings. Chopping off part of a mature plant and rooting it in water or soil
- Division. Splitting a mature plant at the roots to make more plants
- Offsets. Picking ‘pups’, or baby plants, from a mature plant
Propagating doesn’t always work, but it’s always worth trying. What’s to lose? Let’s get into the different methods.
How to propagate cuttings
As you’d imagine, this involves cutting off part of your plant (it won’t hurt). There are two kinds of cuttings: leaf cuttings and stem cuttings.
So easy. This works for most plants that have lots of leaves growing from long stems, like pothos, monstera and philodendron.
- Cut off a piece of stem with at least one leaf on it
- Place it in a glass or jar of clean water
- If any leaves are dipping underwater, chop them off or they’ll rot
- Leave the glass/jar near a light source until roots develop
- One the stem has roots, plant it in soil and you’re done
This works brilliantly for snake plants. Please note it can take several weeks for roots to develop.
- Cut a piece of a leaf from your plant
- Leave it somewhere dry for 48 hours, so the cut edge hardens
- Plant it in soil and put it near a light source
- Mist the soil regularly so it doesn’t dry out
- Wait for your plant to grow
How to propagate by division
Division is when you tear your plant’s root ball into multiple pieces and repot each piece to become its own plant. Works for plants like peace lilies or most ferns. They need to be healthy, mature plants.
You’ll want to do this outside or over some newspaper. It can get messy.
- Remove your plant from its nursery pot, to expose the roots
- Carefully split the root ball so you have multiple plants
- Pot each plant in a nursery pot with fresh soil
- Water as normal
How to propagate offsets
With this kind of propagation the plant does most of the work for you. Offsets are also known as pups. They’re miniature versions of the plant you’ll see growing from things like aloe vera, snake plants or spider plants. They may appear in the soil next to a ‘mother’ plant or hang off the mother plant on a long stem.
You should only remove offsets that already look like mini plants, not ones that are just developing.
- Cut off the offset using a sharp, clean knife, or just gently wiggle it free
- Clean off any soil using clean tepid water
- Place it somewhere cool and dry for at least a couple of days
- Pot your offset in soil and water as normal
How to propagate succulents
Any healthy succulent is easy to propagate. With a little care and attention, you can grow your collection in no time. You can create new succulents by taking a stem cutting, or if you have a rosette-style succulent, an individual leaf will do.
- For stem cutting, use sharp scissors to snip off a leaf-covered stem. You're looking for a good bunch of leaves with about one to three inches of stem
- For individual leaves, pluck leaves from the parent plant by twisting the leaf gently, close to the stem
- Place your cuttings and leaves, cut ends up, in a dish of fast-draining soil facing indirect sunlight
- Leave your cuttings for a few days to callous over
- Lightly moisten the soil every four to five days
After six weeks, you'll notice baby pups growing from the parent leaf. Now's the time to repot. Transfer your baby succulents to their own nursery pot and cover their roots with soil. Congratulations on your new arrivals!
Not all plants can reproduced through propagation. Some will only grow from seed.
You’ll also find that some propagation attempts won’t work, but don’t be put off if your first try doesn’t go well. Keep trying. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of giving a plant to a friend knowing you grew it entirely yourself.
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