How to Propagate from Cuttings

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The word propagation may sound intimidating like it's a complicated scientific endeavor, but it's actually super easy to do. Once you propagate a houseplant by cuttings one time, you'll be a pro. It's so simple; you may suddenly find yourself surrounded by plant babies as you propagate all the plants. Life goals!

 

The only complicated part about propagating from stem cuttings is knowing which plants can be propagated this way. Some of the most popular houseplants that propagate easily through cuttings are:

  • Monstera deliciosa

  • Epipremnum aureum "Pothos"

  • Maranta leuconeura "Prayer Plant"

  • Curio rowleyanus "String of Pearls"

  • Pilea peperomioides

  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia "ZZ Plant"

  • Peperomia prostrata "String of Turtles"

 

How To Propagate A Houseplant from Stem Cuttings

 

What You Need

 

  • Sterilized shears or scissors (sterilized, so you don't pass on any plant diseases – use alcohol or heat to sterilize)

  • A healthy parent plant

  • Small 4 inch pots - drainage holes are a must!

  • High-quality houseplant potting soil

  • Plastic bag or bell jar

  • Optionally, rooting hormone

 

Let's Propagate!

  1. Inspect the parent plant to ensure it is healthy – look for strong leaves and firm stems.
     

  2. Fill the pots with potting soil and water them before you start.
     

  3. Choose a healthy stem 3-6 inches long with at least two leaves and one node.

    Tip: A node is the point where a new leaf grows out from the stem. Young nodes will just be small bumps along the stem as they haven't grown a leaf yet.
     

  4. Cut the stem just below the node.
     

  5. Keep at least two leaves, but if there are more than 2, remove the lower ones.
     

  6. Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone, if you're using it
     

  7. Make a hole in the pot of pre-moistened soil and insert the stem, so the node is 1-1/2 inches covered.
     

  8. Press the soil around the stem, so it is secure. Make sure the soil doesn't cover any leaves.
     

  9. Put the plastic bag (or bell jar) over the pot to retain humidity. Leave one corner open, though, for airflow.
     

  10. Place the new plant in a warm location with lots of indirect light.
     

  11. Check the moisture daily and water as needed. It should be moist but never soggy.
     

  12. In 2-3 weeks, check for rooting by very gently tugging at the stem. If it resists, you've got new roots growing. The length of time it takes for roots to develop varies by plant – some take upwards of 3 months, so be patient!

 

Tips For Successful Plant Propagation

 

  • Only take cuttings from vigorous parent plants with lots of new growth.
     

  • Make sure the parent plant is large enough that taking cuttings won't impact it.
     

  • Ensure the cutting has at least two leaves but not more than that – these are necessary for photosynthesis so the plant can continue growing. But, too many leaves take energy away from root creation.
     

  • Don't take a cutting more than 6 inches long as they won't root well. Or, if they do root, they will develop into lanky leggy plants.
     

  • Remove any flowers; they are not helpful for propagation. They'll take energy away from root production to try to develop seeds.
     

  • Be aware of hybrids – cuttings from hybrids often will not grow the same as the parent plant. The cutting will still grow into a fine plant but it is unlikely to display the same foliage markings as the parent.
     

What is rooting hormone, and do I need to use it?

 

Rooting hormone is a synthetic solution that mimics natural plant rooting hormones and encourages plant cuttings to grow roots. It's basically a jumpstart for the roots. For some plants, it is beneficial, while for others, it doesn't make much difference.

 

Most houseplants, especially the vining ones like Pothos, Philodendron, and Monstera, don't need rooting hormone to grow new roots. They're already vigorous growers without encouragement. For the majority of houseplants, you don't need to worry about rooting hormone unless you're struggling to get a plant to root or you want to speed up the process.