With the growing season almost over (March through September), now is the perfect time to do some last-minute houseplant propagation!
If you are a seasoned indoor plant parent, you have probably been propagating plants for a while without even thinking about it… I mean, who doesn’t want free plants? But what exactly is happening when a plant is propagated, and how does it work? For those new to the houseplant world, propagating plants is the process of removing a piece of the plant and helping that new piece to root in either soil or water. What makes this growth happen? Well, the answer is the totipotency of plants cells.
The name “totipotency” may make you think this is some very complex, difficult-to-understand topic, but the subject is actually quite straightforward. Totipotency is the innate ability of a plant cell to create an entirely new plant, meaning that plant cells can use all of their genes to produce any tissue, and eventually a whole plant, which is why plants can be propagated from a cutting, root, shoot, and, in some cases, even tissue culture.
If you’re a plant nerd like us, you’re probably amazed right now! So, the next time you think about propagating a plant, think about that tiny plant cell working its magic.
New to propagating? Here are the best practices for making more plant babies!
When to Propagate
The best time to propagate a plant is during the active growing season which is March through September. This time period gives the plant an extra boost, otherwise, you might be stuck with an unrooted cutting or, worse, a cutting that dies before it roots.
Rooting in Soil vs. Water
Deciding on this method comes down completely to what you are comfortable with. Rooting in soil eliminates the need for potting in the future, but you have to be careful not to let the plant get too dry or neglect it while it roots. Placing a propagation in water is great for watching the roots grow, but you will have to pot the plant in soil eventually. The chances of your propagation rooting is not 100% guaranteed, but adding a rooting hormone can increase those chances significantly.
Best Propagation Method for Your Favorite Indoor Plants
- Alocasia: division
- Arrowhead/Syngonium: division or stem cuttings
- Begonia: stem cuttings at least 3 to 5 inches long with 2 to 4 nodes per stem; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- Cactus: cuttings or division
- Calathea: divisions (more difficult to propagate)
- Cast Iron Plant/Aspidistra: division
- Dracaena: stem or cane cuttings; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- Donkey’s Tail: stem cuttings; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- Dumbcane/Dieffenbachia: air layer or stem cuttings
- Haworthia: offsets
- Hoya: stem tip cuttings with one or more leaves per cutting
- Lipstick/Aeschynanth: 4-inch long stem cuttings from new growth
- Mother fern: plantlets or division
- Peace Lily/Spathiphyllum: division
- Peperomia: leaf or stem cuttings or division; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- Philodendron: stem cuttings with several nodes per cutting
- Pilea peperomioides: division
- Pothos/Epipremnum: stem cuttings
- Snake Plant/Sansevieria: division or leaf cuts; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- Spider Plant/Chlorophytum: offsets or division
- String of Pearls: stem cuttings; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- Succulents (general): stem or leaf cuttings or division; allow cutting to dry for up to a day before planting
- ZZ Plant/Zamioculcas zamiifolia: stem or leaf cuttings; may take several months to grow roots
Visit our blog on basic indoor plant propagation to learn more about how each method works. Happy propagating!