How to Propagate Houseplants

Propagate; this means the way you grow a new plant for a variety of sources such as cuttings or seeds.

It sounds complicated but it is really not.  It just takes time for your new plant to grow.  If you want to propagate your plants, this article will help you learn how.

Cutting Methods

Plant cuttings are the most common way that people propagate their houseplants.  With some houseplants, this can be a hard method to use while others are easy.

1. Stem cuttings

This is the most common propagate method to use.  The side stems and regular stems are the sections of the parent plant.  They are what produce further growth of the flowers or leaves.  You do not cut them when they are flowering but only if they are producing growth.  Use a sharp knife to take the cutting from below the leaf joint, or node.  It can be from three to five inches long.  Remove the lower leaves.  Dip the bottom inch of the stem in rooting hormone and then plant it.  If you do this during the spring and summer your chances of success improve.

The best soil to use is half perlite and half peat moss.  Make sure that you are providing bottom heat and indirect light.  You will know that they are taking root when you give a gentle tug on the cutting and it resists.  After you dig it up you should check the root growth and then plant it in a pot.

2. Root cuttings

With root cuttings, you will need a decent section of root that you can cut into two to four inch segments.  To improve the chances of success, you should plant five or more root cuttings.  Plant the end of the root that was closest to the top, or crown, of the plant.  These are the cuttings that are done during the winter when the plants are in the dormant stage so the new growth will appear in the spring.

3. Leaf cuttings

If the plant does not have a main stem you can use this method.  With leaf cuttings there are three ways you can use this method.

  • A leaf cut with an inch or two of petiole:  This means to have a shoot with leaves.  It is the common way to take a whole leaf.  Two that use this method are Saintpaulias  and Peperomias.
  • The leaf:  Most cacti and succulents use just the leaf because there are no woody type stems but only a crown of leaves,
  • Section of a leaf cut:  Two that use this method are Sansevieria and Streptocarpus.

All the above methods have a similar process but it depends on the plant the exact method.  You will have to check each plant to see what leaf cutting method you need to use.

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Propagating Using Seeds

This is an inexpensive way to start many houseplants.  The drawback is that your plants will not be the size for display for months so you have to be patient.

  • Fill the pots or trays with soil and mist with water.  Top with a fourth inch of sphagnum moss.  Sprinkle the seeds into shallow rows or across the moss, pushing them down into the moss and soil.
  • If they are large seeds, cover with them with a sprinkling of moss.  Mist again and cover with plastic or glass and put it on top of the refrigerator or a heating pad.  Put it in the light conditions that the seed packet states.  When the moss starts to dry, mist it again.
  • When the seedlings start to pop through the moss you need to remove the glass or plastic and move them to brighter light.  When the second set of leaves develops transplant them.  When you gently dig up the seedlings hold by the leaves and not the stem.
  • Each seedling should have its own pot filled to within a half inch of the top with soil that is light.  Around the base of each stem, firm the soil but make sure that you do not bury the leaves.  Move them into brighter light and immediately water.

 Tips for Propagating and Dividing

  • If the parent bulb produces small bulbs off the side, you can divide the new bulbs from the old and plant them like you did the parent bulb.
  • If the bulbs, like the achimenes, are made of many scales that look like pinecones, you just pull off one of the scales, pot it, and water it.
  • If they produce underground tubers, like the Begonia, cut the tuber into several pieces.  Each piece must have an eye.  Dust the wounds with fungicide and immediately plant them
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Similar post: How to Water & Feed Houseplants

Examples of Propagation

  • Rex Begonia:  While most use the tuber, with this one select a healthy leaf and put it top side up on moist growing soil.  Sever a few of the veins and pin the leaf down so that the cuts come in contact with the soil.  Keep moist and then plant the plantlets that grow from the cuts.
  • African Violet: Cut at least an inch of the stem with a leaf.  Put the stems into a peat-based mix or water.  If you are using water you need to plant the leaves as soon as the roots form.  When the roots are established in the peat-based mix, you will plant them then.
  • Snake Plant:  Cut a leaf into sections and put an angled cut on them to indicate which the bottom is.  Dip the bottom ends in the rooting powder and then in moist soil,  Plant the new plants that are formed to the sides of the leaf section.

Also read: The Best Soil for Snake Plants – How to Grow and Maintain


These are just some of the most common ways to propagate houseplants.  Doing this will help you increase your plants without spending a lot of money.  All you will spend is the soil and pots that you need to plant the seeds or cuttings.  Just remember that it will take time for your new plants to become big enough to be put on display.

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