Garden trowel next to three young plants.

What You Need to Know About Plants Propagation

There are many reasons to consider propagation in one of its forms: if a plant has outgrown its allotted space; if it is looking old and jaded; if someone has asked for a cutting; or simply for the challenge and satisfaction of producing a thriving new plant.

The two basic ways to produce a new plant from another are asexually (vegetative propagation) or sexually (seed). Seed is plentiful, but the results are variable, and may differ quite considerably from the parent plant. Vegetative propagation takes up more room and may be slightly slower, but it gives consistently similar results to the parent.

Vegetative propagation

This is by far the most common means of propagation for indoor plants, and it includes propagation by cuttings (stem, leaf, and root), division, layering, offsets, plantlets, and air-layering. Each technique relies on using part of the parent plant to produce the new one, without necessarily detaching it first. The offspring is genetically identical to the parent, and its growth pattern should also be identical.


“Roots, leaves, stems, and shoots can all be used to produce new plants.”

Taking a cutting means removing part of the parent plant in order to grow a new one. After the piece is severed, its supply of moisture from the parent’s roots is cut off, so an adequate level of moisture must be maintained while the cutting produces its own roots to replace the loss.

Some plants produce roots so easily that the cutting can simply be placed in a container of water. Others need the stimulus of a rooting hormone in either liquid or powder form to produce roots. Spring and summer are the best times to take cuttings, because the plant is actively growing and light levels are high. Avoid taking cuttings when the plant is in flower, because flowering shoots will not root successfully, wasting soil, time, and the cutting itself.