With their well-known benefits and obvious beauty, indoor plants have taken a central role in our home and office décor. Plant parents have mastered the art and science of growing happy, healthy plants and are increasing their collections. While a trip to the greenhouse to buy more plants always makes for a good day, at-home plant propagation is another enjoyable and easy way to increase your indoor plant collection.
Propagating houseplants is fun and easy. Very little equipment is required and in just a few steps anyone can make more plants. Overall, it’s a pretty quick process, too, so even those pressed for time can propagate.
What you need to get started
- Growing media like good potting soil (we recommend Tonkaterra)
- Water in glass jars
- Small, clean containers with drainage
- Sharp, clean scissors or knife
The plant being propagated will determine which tools are necessary and which method of propagation is best.
One of the easiest ways to propagate plants is to take a “cutting.” Just like it sounds, simply snip off a part of the plant. This can be a leaf, a leaf attached to a shoot, or it can be a tendril with several leaves if the plant is a trailer.
Plants that can be propagated by this method include Pothos, Philodendron, Tradescantia, African Violets, Rosemary, Calathea, Pilea, and Peperomia (to name a few).
Cuttings need to root out, and this can happen by either the soil or water method. The soil method involves less steps since the plant won’t need to be repotted for a while, but there is the risk of rot if its overwatered. The water method is easier since you just place the cutting in a container with water, plus it’s fun to watch the roots form. There is the additional step of potting the rooted cuttings into soil and being careful not to tear the roots. Some plants are even happy to just keep growing in water.
Cut off a leaf and shoot (petiole), dip in rooting hormone powder (optional but helpful), and place in a jar of water. In three weeks to a month the cuttings will have roots and be ready to plant in soil.
Same as the water method, just cut a leaf and shoot section, dip in rooting hormone, and tuck into damp soil. Alternatives such as perlite, vermiculite, or sand can often be used in place of soil.
When propagating succulents, shave a “leaf” on the underside, just a shallow layer, in the same fashion as witling bark off a branch. Then dip in rooting powder and immediately lay on top of moist soil. This technique helps to accelerate root growth.
Plants are ready to be repotted when roots are established and healthy, new foliage begins to grow. Look for new leaves and shoots and for an overall healthy appearance, then just repot as you would any plant.
Propagating plants by division is straightforward. First, remove the plants from its container. Next, either gently pull sections of the plant apart from one another, being sure to keep the roots intact, or use a sharp knife to create divisions if the plant is rootbound and sections cannot be easily pulled apart. If a knife is required, use your hands to separate plant material to find the best place to cut. Cut straight down from the top through the bottom of the root ball, creating two separate plants. Do this as many times as the plant will allow while keeping green, growing parts and roots connected. Some roots and stems will be lost in this process and that’s OK.
Pups and Plantlets
When a plant makes its own little babies that look just like the mother plant but in miniature, these are called pups or plantlets (dependent on the plant).
- Aloe Vera is one of the most well-known plants that makes pups. Little Aloes grow tight to the base of the mother plant and only need to be separated and potted up.
- Bromeliads also make pups after the mother plant flowers.
- Spider plants make plantlets that grow on shoots or petioles which extend out from the mother plant. Look at the underside of the spider plantlet and you’ll see little bumps – these are the beginnings of roots. Snip or pinch off the plantlet from the shoot and tuck into soil, or place just the very bottom in water and then transplant to soil after roots have formed.
Once your plants have rooted out they are ready to be potted up! Grow your indoor jungle by adding new plants propagated by you. They also make great gifts. Give them away for birthdays and holidays, but also for teacher appreciation day, to work colleagues, as hostess gifts, or just to brighten someone’s day.