Propagating Houseplants

Cuttings, Plantlets, Layering, and More

Many houseplants can be propagated easily at home with no special tools. Increasing your collection from plants you already have is easy, fun, and addicting!

Can’t get enough houseplants? Luckily many of them can be easily propagated with no special tools. All you need is a little patience. Here are some common ways to increase your collection using the plants you already have. Your new plantlets can also be used to replace aging plants that no longer look their best, or as gifts for friends and family.

Stem Cuttings – Water or Soil – This is perhaps the easiest and most common way of propagating. Simply select a healthy stem and cut off a length of about 3 to 6 inches. Make sure you cut below a leaf joint (this is where the new roots will form) and that your knife or clippers are very sharp. You can then place the cutting in a jar or glass of water and place on a sunny windowsill, or you can plant it in a small pot of moist potting soil.

Leaf Cuttings – Same as above, only with an entire leaf. This method works well on plants that do not have stems, such as African Violets and succulents such as Escheveria and Crassula. If you’re using leaf cuttings from succulents, set them aside for a few days to let the cut end dry.

Air Layering – This method works for thick stemmed plants like Dieffenbachia and Ficus. Find a good sized, healthy leaf and strip the bark away from a half inch section below it and paint with rooting hormone. Wrap a piece of plastic around it, fill with damp sphagnum moss, and tie at both ends. In a few months it will be filled with roots. Cut the stem just below the bottom tie and pot up. The remainder of the plant will produce new shoots as well, just be sure to keep the soil moist.

Plantlets – Some plants, such as Spider Plants and Piggyback Plants, do the propagating for you and produce baby plants either at end of growing shoots or on their leaves. If roots are present, simply snip and pot up. If not, pin the plantlet down in moist potting soil and sever from the mother plant once rooted.

Division – Some plants, such as Saintpaulia (African Violets), Sanseveria (Snake Plant), and Maranta (Prayer Plant) form several rosettes or clumps as they mature. To separate, take the plant out of its pot and use a sharp knife to separate the segments. Pot up. Be careful never to simply cut the plant in two!

Layering – This works well with trailing plants such as Ivy. Simply pick a healthy, vigorous stem and pin it down in a pot of moist potting soil using a hair pin. Once rooting has occurred, cut away from the mother plant.

Once you’ve started propagating, you may find you’re hooked! Houseplant propagation is nothing new. The Victorians propagated much of their houseplants, and now you can as well.

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