Grow Plants From Existing Plants
Propagate Through Cuttings, Roots, or Seeds Using Water or Soil
We all hear the running jokes about how expensive it is to garden and maintain houseplants, but there are ways to save money – learning how to propagate plants. You can save yourself trips to the garden center and a lot of money just by propagating plants! All you need are clippings from the parent plant and a few supplies that you probably already have on hand.
There is a science to propagating plants, so it’s best to know a bit about the process before diving into it. To help you through the process, we’ve prepared this guide with steps and a few tips on how to propagate plants. Just be patient with the process, and have fun watching your new plants grow strong.
How to Propagate
Choose Your Parent Plant and Method of Propagating
The best parent plants are healthy and have a lot of new growth to choose from. It’s best to choose a plant with plenty of growth so that it doesn’t suffer from losing the growth you clip to propagate. Also make sure there are no pests or evidence of disease before taking clippings from the plant.
TIP: The time of year and day you take your cuttings is also important. Seasoned gardeners recommend that you take your cuttings when your plant is not flowering (if it is a flowering plant). This is because there are less nutrients in the cutting, as they are channeled to the flower during this time. Taking your cutting in the morning is best because this is when the plant’s rooting hormones are at the highest level, particularly in the tips you’ll take for cuttings.
Propagating in water is the easiest method – all you need is a clear container and water. If you choose to propagate in soil, be sure to have a pot with potting mix prepared before you cut.
How to Propagate From Vegetable Seeds
Choose Your Vegetable
Look for any of your vegetables, or compost waste that has seeds. For vegetables with multiple seeds my favorite way to propagate is to use a paper egg carton, it helps when you’re ready to move seedlings to a proper placement. You could use 1 container, but each seed is a prospective plant. Otherwise, you can choose any plant container you have on hand.
Place each seed in potting soil and cover, water, and place in the sun. Continue to water well every couple of days and sun your seeds until they sprout, this will take some time.
How to Propagate Plants From Cuttings
Choose Your Cutting
Look for a healthy stem with new growth. New growth has a higher chance of survival when planted. The size of your cutting depends on the plant, but here are a few rules of thumb.
- Herbs: cut a stem just below a leaf node, 3 to 4 inches long
- Vining and house plants: cut a piece of vine 4 to 6 inches long, include at least two leaves and one node
- Flowering shrubs: choose a cutting 5 or 6 inches long, or have at least two sets of leaves
How to Grow Plants From Cutting
Sterilize sharp shears or a blade with alcohol and cut the piece you want to propagate. Protect the cut end from exposure to sun or contaminants until you place it in water or potting soil. It’s important to know how you want to root your cuttings beforehand and prepare so that your cutting doesn’t become damaged or dry out.
Prepare the Cutting
If you’re propagating in water, there isn’t much to do here. It’s best to remove leaves at the base of the cutting because they can cause bacteria growth when submerged in water, but that is all you have to do!
Preparing your cutting for potting soil takes a couple more steps, but they are quick and easy. With your sterilized blade or shears, place a single score through the bottom node of your cutting. This will increase the chances of your cutting taking root.
TIP: another way to encourage root growth is to dampen the cut end and node and dip it in rooting hormone before planting.
How to Propagate Plants in Water vs How To Propagate Plants in Soil
Submerge in Water or Potting Soil
Place your clipping in water (cut side submerged) and put the container in a warm spot that gets indirect sunlight. Watch for root growth, which should happen within a few weeks.
If you are propagating your cutting in soil, bore a hole slightly bigger than the cutting into the potting mix. Gently plant your cutting and lightly water the soil. Keep the pot in a warm spot with indirect sunlight.
TIP: for extra insulation, wrap the pot with a plastic bag, allowing for some air circulation.
Transplant When Ready
When root growth is evident, you’re ready to transplant! It’s best to acclimate your propagated plants before placing them outside, and you can do this by gradually exposing them to the outdoors, bringing them in when it’s windy or dipping below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.