Propagating Plants

There are many ways to propagate plants! Some are easy and others a little more involved. But all can be fun to try out! If you have cuttings to spare, why not experiment to see what works well for you?

Taking Cuttings: It’s important to make sure you are taking your cuttings correctly. With most plants a node is required to ensure a new plant will grow from the cutting. When taking your cutting make sure you snip through a vine or stem and that your chosen piece has at least one node. Generally you can spot a node because that is where a leaf comes off a vine or stem. Then it’s time to decide which method your are going to use to propagate. Water, leca, moss, or soil. Keep in mind most plants are not able to be propagated from just a snipped leaf. Some leaves will root, but will likely just be a zombie leaf and will die shortly. Or if they survive, there is a very low chance of them growing. This is the case with “Heart leaf Hoyas”. However, there are a few plants that can be propagated from just leaves. Begonias, zz plants, and African Violets to name a few.

Water: water propagating is probably the easiest way to propagate plants. Just take what ever plant you are propagating and drop it in a vase of water. Every week or so dump out the old water and replace it with fresh water. Leave your cuttings in water until they have several roots around 2 inches long. Then pot them up in soil. One downside to water propping is that it is pretty slow going and once you plant has roots it will go through a period of shock/adjustment when transferring it to soil. During the first two weeks after moving from water to soil, make sure your newly potted plant doesn’t dry out. I find this method to work well for most plants, only succulents and cacti may not do well with it.

R. tetrasperma and H. carnosa cv Chelsea rooting in water

LECA: LECA stands for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate. It is essentially clay balls that soak up water and fertilizer and is great for propagating plants. To propagate in LECA is simple. Just simply fill a container up part way with your LECA, place your cuttings, then add in more LECA. Lastly you will want to add in water to about 1/3 the depth of your container. LECA works by capillary action and will actually draw the moisture up throughout the clay balls. This ensures your cuttings have plenty of water while they root without them sitting in water and potentially rotting. Just a note… LECA can be pretty cold and most plants like warmth when rooting, so I recommend using a seedling heat mat under your props that are in LECA. This method is great for many plants! I personally use it for propping most of my Hoyas, they seem to really take off in LECA on a heat mat.

Hoya carnosa cv Krimson Queen rooting in leca

Soil: potting straight into soil is another method that is great for rooting cuttings. However this method can be a little more challenging and is easy to rot your plants on accident. When rooting in soil be sure that your cuttings are somewhere warm, like a warm window sill or on a heat mat. Also you need to make sure your cuttings don’t dry out, but also don’t stay too wet either. Succulents and cacti seem to really like this route, just keep things on the drier side while they root. This is a method I don’t recommend for people new to keeping plants. It tends to be a little more involved, so it can be easy to under or overwater your starts. I like rooting in soil for Hoyas that like it a little more damp when rooting, or even some that like it drier like H. kerrii.

Repurposed slushy cup used for Hoya propagating

Sphagnum Moss: Sphagnum moss is super easy to root in. Just get it damp but not soggy and place your cutting in the moss. Be sure you don’t pack it tightly around your cutting as you can rot it if the moss is too tight. Keep the moss moist until your cutting has rooted fully. Once it’s ready for soil, pull the cutting out and pick as much of the moss out of the roots as possible, then pot up in soil. This method works great for Aroids like Monstera and Philos. It will also work for Hoyas, but they have really grabby roots that can make pulling the moss out of the roots pretty difficult.

Raphidophora tetrasperma rooting in moss

Division, Pups, Corms, and Tubers: Some plants you cannot take cuttings of. These plants you have to propagate differently. Some plants grow in clusters so to propagate them you just wait until you are repotting and then divide the root ball into several pieces. Calathea, stromanthe, zz plants are all plants that you would divide. Pups are when the mother plant produces offsets at the base of the main plant. You just find where they connect to the mother and snip them free, then you pot it up into its own pot. Pilea peperomioides, Monstera deliciosa, and many upright growing philos do this. Tubers are small round growths that are big the roots of some plants. You can remove the tubers or corms and pot them up in their own pots. Then just water and wait for them to grow. Some plants that grow tubers or corms are Calatheas, Alocasias, and string of hearts.

Be sure to check out this video on Propagating Plants!