What does propagate mean?
You've probably heard the term propagation before, but just so we’re all on the same page: to propagate means to grow a new plant from a small piece (or ‘cutting’) of another.
This is different to growing plants from seed, or ‘splitting,’ which is where you divide a single plant at the roots and re-pot it into two separate planters.
Some plants are best suited to a particular method but as a general rule propagating from cuttings will be a quicker way of growing a new plant from seed.
Best plants for propagation
Most plants can be propagated, but certain varieties might be trickier than others. Giving it a go poses little risk to your older plant (which might like a prune anyway) and it’s a nice, calming way to spend some time, so we recommend giving it a go regardless!
How to propagate indoor plants and succulents?
If you’re looking to propagate foliage plants or succulents, follow the steps below.
Though this is a general guide, and some indoor plants differ slightly depending on their structure, with experience you should be able to intuit where to cut for successful propagation.
1. Find a healthy stem or area of new growth and cut off a portion at a healthy joint (think a kink in the stem, or small stem coming off the main stem). The length of your cutting should be between 10-20cm. Use a sharp knife or Stanley knife to do this, so you get a clean, diagonal cut.
2. Place the base of the cutting in a glass jar, bottle or glass filled to the rim with water. Ideally, you only want the bottom the stem to be in water, so use string and some kind of stick to keep it propped up.
3. Find a spot with plenty of bright, indirect light and let your cutting sit.
4. Over time, the water will start to evaporate, so make sure you’re monitoring your cutting’s progress, and keeping the water topped up.
5. After 2-3 weeks, you should see white roots emerging from the stem.
6. Once your cutting has sprouted roots that are an inch long, pot the cuttings in soil that is appropriate for small indoor plants.
7. Keep the compost lightly moist and pinch out tips to encourage branching of plants.
Pro-tip: when you’re propagating plants in water in preparation for them to be grown in soil, you must replant them quickly/soon after you see the root shooting. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be for it to readjust to soil.
If your roots are longer than a couple of centimeters, take a scalpel or sharp knife and cut off the excess growth.
Check out - Succulents: Misconceptions and FAQs Answered
How to split a plant?
If you happen to have a mature Money Plant or a bromeliad with offshoots (such as the Pygmy Pineapple), consider dividing them in two, rather than growing from a cutting, as this has a higher chance of success and will provide instant results.
To split a plant, gently remove it from its growing pot, shake off the old soil, and find a natural place to divide it at the roots.
You can then re-pot each divided plant into separate pots, and voila! One plant for you; one plant to give away.
Did you know - This process of dividing and giving away Money Plants is supposed to bring you good fortune. We’re not promising that gifting plants will help your cash flow, but it should bring you good friends and good will!
Propagating plants in water
We normally put cuttings in water, only until they sprout roots long enough to go in soil, but you can also leave them be and the roots should keep growing and growing.
Given Medium indoor plants’ susceptibility to root rot, you may wonder how a plant could even survive in such large quantities of water. In essence, your plant adapts its biology so it can survive in its new environment.
As the roots get longer, your cutting begins to source carbon dioxide from water as opposed to the air.
Pop it in a nice glass bottle, and you should end up with an otherworldly, long-rooted creation that will add originality to your mantlepiece. It looks super cool, so is well worth a go!
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