Propagating Houseplants

How to make your roommates green

Ever fancied creating more of your favorite house plants? Then why not try propagation! Although the term propagation can sound technical and terrifying to the uninitiated, dont panic - its not as difficult as it sounds. Put simply it is merely the act of reproducing plants and is a satisfying task that anyone can have a go at.

There are various ways of propagating, depending on the type of plant in question and the method used. If seeds are taken and planted, then it is classed as sexual propagation; this takes longer and the final quality cannot be guaranteed. Asexual propagation, however, is where copies of the parent plant are produced through various means and is far quicker than using seeds. Some of the main ways of using asexual propagation are through leaf and stem cuttings, offsets and dividing.

Leaf Cuttings
Some plants, such as African Violet and Peperomia, grow well from leaf cuttings. Take a single leaf and place in compost. New roots and leaves will form over time at the base of the leaf.

Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings work well with many plants, such as Geranium, Busy Lizzie, and Fuchsia. Find a node the small bump below a leaf and cut slantwise a few inches from the stem tip. Remove all leaves, except for those at the tip. If possible, dip the end of the stem in rooting hormone before planting.

Many plants produce their own offspring that can easily be removed from the main plant to create new ones. Examples include tuberous plants such as Achimenes, succulents, Cacti, Zebrina, Birds Nest Fern and some Ivies.

Dividing is ideal for plants that grow fast or become bushy and have stems at their base. Remove the plant from the container then gently pull apart, or use a knife if necessary, to form two or more plants, then re-plant. Ideal candidates for this are things such as Spider Plants and Umbrella Plants.

For all methods, except for dividing, put the cuttings in damp compost, covered with a plastic bag and place out of direct sunlight; lightly water when dry.

Theres no need to restrict yourself to only propagating your own house plants - try swapping cuttings with friends or neighbors and before long youll have a windowsill full of plants!