The joys of plant propagation!

If it isn’t clear, I am really passionate about plant propagation.

Here’s an overview of what propagation is and how to do it.

What propagation is:

Propagation refers to the process of growing new plants from existing ones. Almost all indoor and outdoor plants can be propagated from either seeds, stems, leaves, tubers, bulbs or root division.

Propagation is inexpensive and gives you the opportunity to learn about and grow more plants. It doesn’t get better than that, right!

How propagation works:

The five major propagation methods include: cuttings, layering, division, grafting and budding. Plants are unique in their ways, and so different methods need to be used to propagate different species. 

For example:

  • Calatheas, caladiums, snake plants and alocasias are propagated by division. With time, these plants grow additional bulbs/tubers/shoots which develop into new plants that can be carefully separated out (with some roots attached) and potted on their own. 
  • Philodendrons, pothos, begonias and succulents are propagated by stem and leaf cuttings that are removed from the main mother plant. 

Once removed from the mother plant, fresh cuttings need to be placed in a medium that encourages root development. Water, soil and spaghnum moss are the most commonly used medium for propagating plants, but I’ve found water propagation to be the most successful (and satisfying to watch!). Propagating cuttings in water and seeing roots develop is incredibly rewarding. 

How to propagate a plant:

  1. Find a healthy-looking stem on the plant you want to propagate.
  2. Using sterile scissors, carefully snip a couple of 10-15cm cuttings from just below a leaf or node [bump along the stem].
    Some plants don’t have nodes, in which case you can just cut somewhere towards the base of the stem.
  3. Remove any leaves from the bottom third of the cuttings [as these will just rot away].
  4. Dip the bottom of the cuttings in rooting powder and pop them into your media of choice.
  5. Place the cuttings in a spot that receive good, indirect light throughout the day.
  6. [Specific to water, moss or leca propagation], pot your cuttings in a well-draining potting mix when the roots are 5-8cm long. 

Things to note:

– When propagating in water, it’s important to give the cuttings enough time to establish a good rooting system before transplanting them to soil. Some of the ‘water roots’ will die back when you plant the cuttings, so you want to give it the best chance of uptake to soil.

– If you propagate plants in water, it’s important to change the water out at least once a week to prevent algae build-up. Cuttings need the oxygen fresh water provides in order to develop healthy roots.

– If you propagate plants in soil, it’s really important to use an aerated potting mix. Young plants need good drainage and aeration, so you need to use a mix that contains lots of perlite and peat. You’ll also need to keep the soil moist, but not wet, as you don’t want your cuttings to rot! We do sell a propagation mix if you’re interested.

– The use of rooting powder is optional, but I really recommend it if you’re new to propagating plants

– You can propagate plants year-round, but the best time to experiment is during the growing season (being Spring and Summer). You’ll generally have a higher chance of success with the warmer weather!

– The use of ziplock bags when propagating is underrated! Cuttings need good humidity to thrive, and ziplocks work well to create a warm, contained environment for them to root in. I’ve often used ziplocks by a) placing the pot+plant directly into the ziplock, or b) placing the unrooted cuttings directly onto a bed of moist soil/moss/perlite at the base of the ziplock bag. I also make sure to briefly unseal the bag every few days to prevent algae/fungus and I mist the soil when it looks dry.

All in all, propagation requires time and patience, and you won’t always get it right (which is totally normal!) But when you do, you’ll have more plants to share with others and slowly but surely turn your space into an urban jungle (which has certainly been my goal!)