What is Propagation?

Propagation is when you use a mature plant, also referred to as a parent plant, to generate another version of that same plant. By definition, propagation is the breeding of a plant by natural processes from the parent stock. You may be thinking propagation is taking stem cuttings and putting them in water to regenerate roots. The truth is, any plant by any process of regeneration, is under the umbrella of propagation. This means whether you regenerate a plant from the parent plant sprouting a new bud, as a new nod off a stem, by cutting a leaf or root, all are propagation. 

There are multiple ways to propagate plants but the important thing is to know when to propagate. You do not want to damage a newly sprouted bud or remove new leaves or stems too frequently. This damages the parent plant. Each type of plant has it's own specified instructions for propagation. More plant propagation articles on each specific plant will be coming soon. We will go over the general, basics of propagation in this article. 

Methods of Propagation 

Leaf Cuttings

A leaf and its stem or sometimes just a piece of the leaf are used to create an entirely new plant. Herbaceous or woody plants, including many indoor houseplants, can be propagated from leaf cuttings. It can be done at any time of the year. Use a healthy, full grown leaf from a well grown plant. Remove it along with about 1 - 1/2 inches of its stem, unless it is a specific type of plant that is known to be able to root from it's leaves like succulents, the Zz or Snake plant. Dip the cut portion of your leaf in rooting hormone and plant the entire stem, sticking your leaf cutting on an angle into a moist, rich soil. 

Like many other cutting techniques, you can place the container with soil and your leaf cuttings in a plastic bag to increase humidity. Keep out of direct sunlight. After 4 - 6 weeks new roots will form and the plant can be moved to a larger container!

Stem Cuttings 

What is really neat about plants, is their ability to regenerate. Every cell of a plant has the ability to reproduce, including the ability for that reproduced plant to also regenerate. Stem cuttings is one of the most popular ways to propagate house plants. 

Take a stem cutting from the parent plant. It is important to take a stem cutting that is healthy and has plenty of leaves. Cuttings should be about 3 - 6 inches long, it will be shorter if the plant is small. Include the tip of the stem with at least two or three leaves attached.

Root Cuttings

Root cuttings is using a well developed root to regenerate a separate plant. Use a root that is approximately 1 to 4 inches long. Cut the end of the root nearest to the stem and cut the other end at an angle. This way you will remember which end is the top, the straight cut, and which is the bottom, the diagonal cut. Use the root cuttings from a root that is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Roots will not grow if you plant them upside down. 

Keep root cuttings in a moist environment, with no soil. In 3 weeks, remove the cuttings and bury them upright under 2 - 3 inches of soil. Place the container in a plastic bag. Put the whole thing somewhere with bright, indirect sunlight. When you see roots established and or harden with the new plants off transplant them.