How to Propagate Plants | Almanac.com

Houseplants Are for Sharing! How to Propagate Houseplants

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propagation cutting
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3 ways to propagate your pothos, monstera, snake plant, spider plant, jade plant, and common houseplants

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When a favorite houseplant is outgrowing its space or you’d like to make a wonderful gift for the plant-loving folks in your life, it’s easy to create new houseplants from the ones you already have! Don’t worry—we’re not suggesting you give your beloved pothos, monstera, or snake plant away! To share your houseplant, you simply have to propagate. 
What’s houseplant propagation, you ask? It’s when you create a new plant from a piece of your existing plant. There are three simple ways to do this: 

  1. Taking a stem cutting, 
  2. Separating the baby plantlets (or offshoots) from the mother plant, and 
  3. Dividing one plant into multiple plants. (You can also propagate some plants using leaves, but that can take a little longer.) 

The best method depends on the type of houseplant. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the three main ways to propagate houseplants and which common, easy-care houseplants fall into each category.

1. Taking a Stem Cutting

Easy plants to propagate using stem cuttings include:

When to do it: While you can take cuttings from houseplants any time of year, the best time to do so is during the growing season. That may sound funny, a growing season for houseplants, but yes, they do have them! It’s usually between early spring and early fall.
What you’ll need:

  • Sharp garden snips or scissors (be sure to sterilize them first with rubbing alcohol)
  • Small pots
  • Potting mix + perlite or vermiculite
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Water
Houseplant propagation by cutting. Credit: Jus_Ol

How to do it:

  1. Fill a small container with a mixture of potting mix and either perlite or vermiculite for good drainage.
  2. Cut a 3- to 4-inch piece of stem from a lower branch that contains the growing tip and at least two nodes (a point on the stem where a leaf or smaller stem is attached).
  3. Remove any leaves that will be below the soil line, moisten the trimmed end with water, and dip it into a small pile of the rooting hormone. (Don’t dip it directly into the bottle.)
  4. Make a hole in the potting mix with your finger, place the cutting (cut side first) into the hole, firmly pat the soil around it, and water gently. 
  5. Repeat if you want more plants!

2. Separating the Baby Plantlets

Easy plants to propagate through baby plants include:

When to do it: When you see one or more plantlets growing next to the mother plant. You’ll want to wait until the plantlet is a few inches tall before you remove it.
What you’ll need:

  • Newspaper
  • Soil knife or trowel or sharp garden snips OR scissors (spider only)
  • Small pots
  • Potting mix
  • Powdered rooting hormone (spider only)
  • Water
Replanting baby plantlets in pots. Credit: Ingrid Balabanova/SS

How to do it:

  1. Fill a small container with potting mix.
  2. If the plantlet is growing in the soil, spread a newspaper on the floor or table and carefully remove the whole plant from the pot. Gently pull the baby away from its mother’s root ball (use a soil knife or a trowel to cut through larger roots if needed), leaving the plantlet with as many roots as possible.
  3. If you’re propagating a spider plant, snip the baby from the runner attaching it to the mother plant, moisten the trimmed end with water, and dip it into a small pile of rooting hormone. 
  4. Make a hole in the potting mix big enough to hold the roots of the baby plant, insert the plant, fill in the hole, and pat the soil firmly. Water gently.
  5. Repeat if you’re lucky enough to have a second plantlet. If needed, fill the original container with fresh potting mix and return the mother to her home. Be sure to pat the soil firmly and give her a drink.

3. Dividing Plants

Easy plants to propagate through division:

When to do it: While you can divide houseplants anytime they get too big for their pots, the best time is in early spring, right before they enter growth mode.
What you’ll need:

  • Newspaper
  • Soil knife or trowel
  • Pots (smaller than the original)
  • Potting mix
  • Water
Propagating a snake plant. Credit: GreenThumbShots

How to do it:

  1. Cover a spot on the floor or table with newspaper and remove the plant from its pot. Lay it on its side. 
  2. Gently loosen the root ball with your fingers and try to separate the plant into two (or more) parts. If it doesn’t easily come apart, use a soil knife or trowel to cut through the larger roots and try again.
  3. Fill the new containers with fresh potting mix.
  4. Plant the newly separated sections each into its own pot. Press the soil down firmly and water.

After all, who says you have to spend a lot of money to come up with just the right gift?

Clipping a pothos plant. Credit: Amanda Feltz/SS

However you propagate, sharing the results with folks you love is a wonderful expression of the bond you share. And, of course, once the new plantlets begin to grow and mature, the lucky recipient will want to make sure to care for them well. Tell them to check out our Houseplant Care Guide for tips on how to do just that.

About The Author

Su Reid-St. John

Su, a master gardener, spent many years editing and writing garden content for Bonnie Plants and Miracle-Gro. Read More from Su Reid-St. John

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