How to Propagate Your Plants and Grow More for Free

How to Propagate Your Plants and Grow More for Free

Key Takeaways

What You Will LearnWhy It Matters
How to multiply your plants by taking cuttings, dividing, or using other methods that do not require buying seeds or new plantsYou can save money, expand your plant collection, or share plants with others
The different types of cuttings and how to take them from various plantsYou can choose the best type of cutting for your plant and increase the chances of successful rooting
The tools and materials needed for propagating plants by cuttingsYou can prepare and care for your cuttings with the right tools and materials
The best time and season to take cuttings from different plantsYou can optimize the growth and health of your plants by taking cuttings at the right time and season
How to care for cuttings until they root in different mediumsYou can transplant your cuttings into pots or garden beds once they have developed roots
Other methods of propagating plants besides cuttingsYou can explore other ways to propagate your plants that are easy and effective

Table of Contents

Introduction

Do you love plants and want to have more of them in your home or garden? Do you wish you could grow more plants without spending a lot of money on seeds or new plants? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you.

In this article, you will learn how to propagate your plants and grow more for free. Propagating plants means multiplying them by taking cuttings, dividing, or using other methods that do not require buying seeds or new plants. By propagating your plants, you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Save money: You don’t have to buy new plants or seeds every time you want to add more plants to your collection. You can use the ones you already have and grow more from them.
  • Expand your plant collection: You can have more variety and diversity in your plant collection by propagating different types of plants. You can also experiment with different combinations and arrangements of plants.
  • Share plants with others: You can give away or exchange your propagated plants with your friends, family, or neighbors. You can also donate them to schools, community gardens, or charities.

To learn how to propagate your plants and grow more for free, keep reading this article. We will cover everything you need to know about the different types of cuttings, the tools and materials needed, the best time and season to take cuttings, how to care for cuttings until they root, and other methods of propagating plants besides cuttings. Let’s get started!

Types of Cuttings and How to Take Them

How to Propagate Your Plants and Grow More for Free

One of the most common and easy ways to propagate your plants is by taking cuttings. Cuttings are parts of a plant that are removed from the mother plant and placed in a medium where they can develop roots and grow into new plants. There are different types of cuttings that differ in terms of stem hardness, leaf presence, and rooting time. Here are the main types of cuttings that you can use to propagate your plants:

  • Hardwood cuttings: These are cuttings taken from woody stems that are fully mature and dormant. They usually have no leaves or buds. They are best taken in late fall or winter when the plant is not actively growing. They take longer to root than other types of cuttings, but they are more likely to survive harsh conditions. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by hardwood cuttings are rose, hydrangea, fig, grape, etc.
  • Semi-hardwood cuttings: These are cuttings taken from woody stems that are partially mature and still growing. They usually have some leaves or buds. They are best taken in late summer or early fall when the plant is still active but not flowering. They root faster than hardwood cuttings, but they need more care and protection from drying out. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings are lavender, rosemary, hibiscus, camellia, etc.
  • Softwood cuttings: These are cuttings taken from soft stems that are young and tender. They usually have many leaves or buds. They are best taken in spring or early summer when the plant is growing rapidly and producing new shoots. They root very quickly, but they are also very fragile and prone to wilting. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by softwood cuttings are geranium, begonia, coleus, fuchsia, etc.
  • Herbaceous cuttings: These are cuttings taken from non-woody stems that are soft and flexible. They usually have many leaves or buds. They can be taken anytime during the growing season when the plant is healthy and vigorous. They root easily, but they need regular watering and fertilizing. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by herbaceous cuttings are basil, mint, chives, oregano, etc.
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To take cuttings from your plants, you need to follow these general steps:

  • Choose a healthy and disease-free stem from the mother plant. Avoid stems that are flowering or fruiting, as they will have less energy to root.
  • Make a clean and sharp cut below a node (where a leaf or a bud attaches to the stem) with a sterilized knife or scissors. The length of the cutting depends on the type of plant and the type of cutting, but it is usually between 4 to 8 inches.
  • Remove any leaves or flowers from the lower half of the cutting. This will prevent water loss and fungal infection. You can leave some leaves or buds on the upper half of the cutting to help with photosynthesis and growth.
  • Dip the cut end of the cutting in a rooting hormone. This is a substance that stimulates root formation and increases the success rate of propagation. You can buy rooting hormone in powder, liquid, or gel form from garden centers or online stores. You can also use natural alternatives such as honey, cinnamon, or willow water.
  • Insert the cutting into a moist medium where it can root. This can be water, soil, or air. We will discuss more about these mediums in the next section. Make sure to insert the cutting deep enough to cover at least one node and leave enough space between cuttings to allow air circulation.

Tools and Materials Needed for Propagating Plants by Cuttings

Sharp shears: A picture of pruning shears, scissors, or a knife

To propagate your plants by cuttings, you need some tools and materials to prepare and care for your cuttings. Here are the main tools and materials that you need and how to use them:

  • Sharp shears: You need a pair of sharp shears to make clean and precise cuts on your stems. You can use pruning shears, scissors, or a knife, depending on the type and size of your stem. You should sterilize your shears before and after each use to prevent the spread of diseases. You can use rubbing alcohol, bleach, or boiling water to sterilize your shears.
  • Rooting hormone: You need a rooting hormone to stimulate root formation and increase the success rate of propagation. You can buy rooting hormone in powder, liquid, or gel form from garden centers or online stores. You can also use natural alternatives such as honey, cinnamon, or willow water. To use rooting hormone, you need to dip the cut end of your cutting in the rooting hormone and shake off any excess.
  • Potting mix: You need a potting mix to provide a suitable medium for your cuttings to root in soil. You can buy a ready-made potting mix from garden centers or online stores, or you can make your own by mixing peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, sand, or compost. You should choose a well-draining and sterile potting mix that is suitable for your type of plant.
  • Water: You need water to provide moisture for your cuttings to root in water or soil. You should use clean and fresh water that is at room temperature. You should change the water every few days if you are rooting your cuttings in water. You should water your cuttings lightly if you are rooting them in soil, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.
  • Jars: You need jars to hold your cuttings if you are rooting them in water. You can use any glass or plastic jars that are clean and transparent. You should fill the jars with enough water to cover at least one node of your cutting. You should place the jars in a bright and warm spot, but not in direct sunlight.
  • Plastic bags: You need plastic bags to cover your cuttings if you are rooting them in soil. You can use any clear or translucent plastic bags that are large enough to cover your pots or containers. You should poke some holes in the bags to allow air circulation. You should place the bags over your pots or containers and secure them with rubber bands or strings. This will create a mini greenhouse effect that will keep the humidity and temperature high for your cuttings.
  • Pots or containers: You need pots or containers to hold your cuttings if you are rooting them in soil. You can use any pots or containers that have drainage holes at the bottom. You should fill the pots or containers with moist potting mix and insert your cuttings into them. You should place the pots or containers in a bright and warm spot, but not in direct sunlight.
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Here is a table that summarizes the tools and materials needed for propagating plants by cuttings:

Tool/MaterialPurposeHow to Use
Sharp shearsTo make clean and precise cuts on stemsSterilize before and after each use; cut below a node
Rooting hormoneTo stimulate root formation and increase success rateDip the cut end of cutting in rooting hormone; shake off excess
Potting mixTo provide a suitable medium for rooting in soilChoose a well-draining and sterile potting mix; fill pots or containers with moist potting mix
WaterTo provide moisture for rooting in water or soilUse clean and fresh water; change water every few days; water lightly
JarsTo hold cuttings for rooting in waterUse clean and transparent jars; fill with enough water; place in bright and warm spot
Plastic bagsTo cover cuttings for rooting in soilUse clear or translucent plastic bags; poke holes; place over pots or containers; secure with rubber bands or strings
Pots or containersTo hold cuttings for rooting in soilUse pots or containers with drainage holes; insert cuttings into potting mix; place in bright and warm spot

Best Time and Season to Take Cuttings from Different Plants

Rose

The time and season of taking cuttings from your plants can affect the success of propagation and the health of your plants. Some plants are more suitable for taking cuttings at certain times of the year than others, depending on their growth cycle and dormancy period. Here are some general guidelines on when to take cuttings from different types of plants:

  • Hardwood cuttings: These are best taken in late fall or winter when the plant is dormant and not actively growing. This is because the plant has stored enough energy in its stems and roots to survive the winter and produce new growth in spring. Taking cuttings at this time will not harm the plant or affect its flowering or fruiting. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by hardwood cuttings in late fall or winter are rose, hydrangea, fig, grape, etc.
  • Semi-hardwood cuttings: These are best taken in late summer or early fall when the plant is still active but not flowering. This is because the plant has produced enough new growth that is partially mature and woody, but still flexible and green. Taking cuttings at this time will allow the plant to heal quickly and prepare for winter. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer or early fall are lavender, rosemary, hibiscus, camellia, etc.
  • Softwood cuttings: These are best taken in spring or early summer when the plant is growing rapidly and producing new shoots. This is because the plant has enough energy and hormones to produce new roots and shoots from the cuttings. Taking cuttings at this time will not affect the plant’s growth or flowering. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by softwood cuttings in spring or early summer are geranium, begonia, coleus, fuchsia, etc.
  • Herbaceous cuttings: These can be taken anytime during the growing season when the plant is healthy and vigorous. This is because the plant has a fast and continuous growth cycle that allows it to regenerate from any part of its stem. Taking cuttings at any time will not affect the plant’s growth or flowering. Some examples of plants that can be propagated by herbaceous cuttings anytime during the growing season are basil, mint, chives, oregano, etc.

Here is a chart that summarizes the best time and season to take cuttings from different plants:

PlantType of CuttingBest Time and Season
RoseHardwoodLate fall or winter
LavenderSemi-hardwoodLate summer or early fall
GeraniumSoftwoodSpring or early summer
BasilHerbaceousAnytime

How to Care for Cuttings Until They Root

Hydrangea

Once you have taken your cuttings and placed them in a medium where they can root, you need to care for them until they develop roots and grow into new plants. The way you care for your cuttings depends on the medium you have chosen: water, soil, or air. Here are some instructions on how to care for your cuttings until they root in different mediums:

  • Water: If you have chosen to root your cuttings in water, you need to do the following:
    • Change the water every few days to keep it fresh and prevent algae or bacteria from growing.
    • Add a pinch of sugar or a drop of liquid fertilizer to the water every week to provide some nutrients for your cuttings.
    • Check for roots regularly by gently lifting your cuttings out of the water. You should see some white or green roots emerging from the nodes after a few weeks.
    • Transplant your cuttings into pots or garden beds once they have developed enough roots (at least an inch long). You can use a potting mix that is suitable for your type of plant and water them well after transplanting.
  • Soil: If you have chosen to root your cuttings in soil, you need to do the following:
    • Water your cuttings lightly every day or every other day to keep the soil moist but not soggy. You can use a spray bottle or a watering can to water your cuttings gently.
    • Mist your cuttings with water every day or every other day to keep the humidity high and prevent them from wilting. You can use a spray bottle or a humidifier to mist your cuttings.
    • Check for roots regularly by gently tugging on your cuttings. You should feel some resistance if they have rooted in the soil. You can also lift your pots or containers and look for roots coming out of the drainage holes.
    • Transplant your cuttings into larger pots or garden beds once they have developed enough roots (at least an inch long). You can use a potting mix that is suitable for your type of plant and water them well after transplanting.
  • Air: If you have chosen to root your cuttings in air, you need to do the following:
    • Wrap your cuttings with moist sphagnum moss or peat moss around the nodes where you want them to root. You can use a string or a wire to secure the moss around your cuttings.
    • Cover your cuttings with plastic wrap or aluminum foil around the moss to keep it moist and warm. You can poke some holes in the wrap or foil to allow air circulation.
    • Mist your cuttings with water every day or every other day to keep the moss moist and prevent it from drying out. You can use a spray bottle or a humidifier to mist your cuttings.
      • Check for roots regularly by unwrapping your cuttings carefully and looking for roots emerging from the moss. You should see some white or green roots after a few weeks.
      • Transplant your cuttings into pots or garden beds once they have developed enough roots (at least an inch long). You can remove the moss and the wrap or foil and use a potting mix that is suitable for your type of plant and water them well after transplanting.
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Other Methods of Propagating Plants Besides Cuttings

African violet leaf propagation
African violet leaf propagation

Cuttings are not the only way to propagate your plants and grow more for free. There are other methods that are easy and effective, depending on the type of plant you have. Here are some examples of other methods of propagating plants that you can try:

  • Dividing: This method involves splitting a plant into smaller parts that can grow independently. This is a good way to propagate plants that have clumps, bulbs, rhizomes, or tubers, such as hosta, iris, daylily, daffodil, etc. To divide a plant, you need to dig it up carefully and separate it into smaller sections with roots and shoots. You can use a sharp knife or a spade to cut through the roots if they are too thick. Then you can replant the divisions in pots or in the ground, making sure they have enough space and soil. You can divide your plants every few years to keep them healthy and productive.
  • Leaf propagation: This method involves using a single leaf or a part of a leaf to grow a new plant. This is a good way to propagate plants that have fleshy or thick leaves, such as African violet, begonia, peperomia, etc. To propagate a leaf, you need to cut off a healthy leaf with a sharp knife or scissors. You can either use the whole leaf or cut it into smaller pieces with veins. Then you can insert the leaf or the leaf pieces into moist potting mix or water, making sure they have enough light and warmth. You will see roots and new shoots emerging from the leaf or the leaf pieces after a few weeks.
  • Succulent propagation: This method involves using a stem, a leaf, or an offset to grow a new succulent plant. This is a good way to propagate plants that have succulent stems or leaves, such as echeveria, sedum, kalanchoe, etc. To propagate a succulent, you need to remove a stem, a leaf, or an offset from the mother plant with a sharp knife or scissors. You can either use the whole stem or cut it into smaller pieces with nodes. Then you can lay the stem, the leaf, or the offset on top of moist potting mix or sand, making sure they have enough light and warmth. You will see roots and new shoots emerging from the stem, the leaf, or the offset after a few weeks.

Conclusion

Propagating your plants and growing more for free is not only fun and rewarding, but also beneficial for your wallet, your plant collection, and your environment. By following the tips and tricks in this article, you can easily multiply your plants by taking cuttings, dividing, or using other methods that do not require buying seeds or new plants. You can also experiment with different types of plants and mediums to find what works best for you and your plants. So what are you waiting for? Grab your tools and materials and start propagating your plants today! You will be amazed by the results!

About The Author

Samantha
Samantha

I'm Samantha, a plant enthusiast who has been growing plants for years. I believe that plants can make our lives better, both physically and mentally. I started growit.wiki to share my knowledge about how to grow plants. I want to help others enjoy the beauty and benefits of plants.

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