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Growing new plants from an established houseplant collection is an interesting way
to learn more about the habits of your plants. It is also an easy way to increase
the supply of plants for personal enjoyment or to share with friends. Houseplants
may be propagated in several ways. The most common methods are by:
It can be more difficult to find houseplant seeds than flower seeds. Places to consider
looking for seeds include online searches, mail-order companies, or advertisements
in garden magazines.
House plant seeds should be fresh and planted as soon as possible as they do not tend
to store very well. House plants seeds differ from seeds in temperate regions as they
lack dormancy and germinate as soon as the conditions are right for them to do so.
Do not chill seeds.
Terminal or tip cuttings, taking a piece of the stem with one or more buds, is the
most common method of propagating houseplants commercially. This technique is used
on vining plants such as philodendron, ivy, pothos, and some peperomias as well as
weeping figs, pileas, most cacti, wax begonias, and more.
An ideal terminal cutting is 2 – 4 inches long containing 4 – 6 leaves. Do not allow
the cuttings to wilt after being removed from the joint.
This can also be done using the “single eye” method with plants that have an alternating
leaf arrangement. These plants can be rooted by taking a piece of stem that is an
inch or two in length with a leaf attached. The stem will root and the bud at the
base of the leaf will form a new shoot. It is possible to make a group of six to ten
single-eye cuttings in one pot to have an attractive pot in short order.
Cacti and Succulents contain a great amount of moisture and will sometimes rot in
a rooting bag. In order to avoid this, place the terminal cuttings on a windowsill
for 24 hours before placing in the rotting bag. Doing this will seal off the wounded
area which reduces the risk of decay. Water normally.
Leaf cuttings take two to four months to propagate due to the lack of vegetative bud.
Several succulents and other thick leaved plants may be propagated by leaf cuttings.
New plantlets will begin to form at the locations where the veins have been cut. The
old leaf should be broken away when the new plantlets are being repotted.
Some cane-producing plants, such as ti, dracaenas, and dumbcane can be propagated
by cane cuttings. The cane can range in size from two inches to two feet long, but
two-inch segments will give you the maximum number of plants per cane.
New roots will form from the cane and a new shoot will grow from the uppermost axillary
Any plant that produces rhizomes, or underground stems, and any plant that produces
a crown and not an elongated above-ground stem can be propagated via division.
You can plant multiple divisions in the same pot in order to achieve the look of a
fuller pot sooner.
Air layering is a method best used when a plant is overgrown and the only attractive
leaves are those at the end of the stem. This method allows the plant to easily restored
to a presentable form. Weeping fig, schefflera, Norfolk Island pine, dumbcane and
tree philodendrons are often propa gated using this method.
Usually, rooting techniques require the plant to be taken to the soil, but air layering
requires the soil be taken to the plant.
Do not try to layer too large a piece or there may not be enough root system to provide
water for the new plant’s needs.
The table below gives propagation methods which may be successfully used for 60 of
the most common house plants. The method which is most commonly used, or the method used commercially, is the method
designated as “best.” If the technique works but is not commonly used for some reason,
it is indicated with a “yes.” If the method does not work, “no” is used. Some groups
such as cacti and succulents are generalizations.
Download our factsheet for an accessible version of this chart!