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How to Propagate Plants

Updated: Nov 18

Increase your plant collection or swap cuttings with your friends. Watch our video and read the accompanying article below to learn several techniques for how to propagate your indoor and outdoor plants.

Read the Transcript:

Today we're talking about how to propagate plants, and Eden, I'm sorry you have to come up here. My name is Joyce and I just want to introduce Eden.

She is new to Marshall Grain but she is not new to gardening. She is a master gardener and she is very knowledgeable about everything. Or everything to do with plants anyway and so I'm going to turn it over to her and let her lead the class today.

Thank you for coming.

I'm Eden. Is that loud enough? OK, OK, yeah I am a master gardener and we took some classes on this, so I think I'm OK. I've been Googling it for weeks now.

We were going to do -- first, I think I'm just gonna start. Everything's in front of you.

We're going to propagate an African Violet. But there's also other things here that are more easy little houseplant things to propagate, such as, you know, Pothos, Monstera. We're going to touch on air layering -- that method.

Yeah, I don't know I guess. I have this one in front of me, so we'll start with this one and talk about, you know, when you have things like this that are really overgrown and kind of floppy.

If you just want to condense it down, when you look here you'll see little nodes where it's just the pre root starting and anywhere below that, you just snip it off.

I'll pull it up. There we go. And this one comes with the root. Let's take that out.

OK, so these little guys will grow into roots, so they're really easy if you just take those off and put them in moist potting soil. Propagated! Two plants. Yes!

How do you know if you can propagate a plant or not? I have to repeat the questions. For the record, I'm not insane.

Ah well. Google. That -- usually, most succulents -- cacti, philodendron types you can.

If it's too small and doesn't have the nodes growing out yet, don't cut any of it off.

Most things, yeah, you can. You can actually -- you can you just take a cutting of that and you remove the leaves and you'll get something like this. Soak it for about 24 hours and then you can put it in moist potting soil. And usually if you put a plastic bag or something over the top of it to keep it humid, it has more chance of growing the roots down in it.

We'll move that guy.

So I mean it's the same with like these, you know when they're really huge and overgrown, you can kind of see it. These are really good 'cause, say you take it all the way down to this one, you can actually take at the edge of every leaf.

That's a plant.

That's a plant.

That's a plant.

And that's a plant.

So all of these you can just stick where the little node is right into the soil and it will continue to grow. It's a great way to -- if you want 100 house plants -- this is how I do it, without spending $100.

I'll just stick more of those in there. But pretty much any of those vining leafy types, you can see the little nodes on them, and figure out, you know, how to cut them off. Just trim them up a little bit and put them in more dirt and they thrive. They're really easy to propagate.

For the leafy ones with the -- Oh, she asked if you keep the soil moist. So when you're propagating leafy things like this that are growing the deep roots, yes you will.

Things like cacti and succulents you actually want to do it in dry dirt, because like, let's see, I have a little overgrown guy here. Well, there goes that one. But you know when you have them when they're long like this and it's just not good, you can just literally cut the head off. And because it's so moist inside the stem, if you put it into more water, it'll tend to rot. And you want to use more dry soil and you can just sit it on the top and it'll grow roots right out of the side of the stem everywhere.

Also, if you just take the leaves off of these and set them on the top of dry soil, they'll grow and then the leaf will start shriveling and then you could mist it with just like a little water bottle, but the roots kind of will come out and do their own thing. Like --

You want to hand that back to her?

That one's kind of how they -- the leaves will just start going off like that and growing the whole new little baby plant right in it.

But that guy -- We'll just -- whoa. Okay.

Oh, also with the leafy ones that grow the roots.

Another fun thing is you can just stick them in water and they'll grow roots and once their roots or like 6 or so inches, you know you'll start seeing them really filling up the water.

You take it out and then you would keep it in moist potting soil for a while so that it doesn't go into shock from coming out of the water.

That's a really fun one. These are just --

We have one sitting behind the cash register up there that I just found a piece on the ground, stuck in water, and it's growing roots in an old cut-in-half plastic water bottle.

It's pretty easy to do.

And then this guy is actually not going to die either. He'll continue like you see, you can't see it. But here he's got already other stems growing out and because he's not putting all its nutrients into that big long head, it'll start sending out more little baby heads on the side and just fill it out into a more bushy plant.


This one is the same as that. You know, you'll see the little nodes on the end and sometimes they'll actually start --

Like this one's already kind of got a root part growing on it and you just cut, you know, a couple of centimeters below that and stick it in dirt and it will grow like crazy.

Cacti are really the same as succulents.

I have a glove because I always don't do this. But we're smart today.

Like this guy, you can just take the head of it and twist and take off a paddle. And we'll do it on this one. Then you just kind of lay it sideways again on dry dirt, 'cause it'll take in too much moisture and rot and get slimy and gross.

But all the little spines and roots will start growing out in the end where you twisted it off. You want to try and not damage the end. So like a gentle twist so that it doesn't, you know. If you snap it off and part of the bottom breaks off, it's not going to root as well, but this one I had done this one just in the window again we were unboxing all of those and a bunch --

Like this one already got the little roots.

And then once it starts growing this also just -- these were moss I just saved them.

So it'll root itself and become its own plant.

Those are really easy things. These kind of cacti, you know, you don't twist it off so much. It'll grow the little babies to the side.

I'm gonna pull this one out.

So like that propagated. No you have two.

Or there's little baby you can pull off and sit to the side and that one got its little roots growing so you just pop it on the top of something.

I'm gonna put the big one back on because I think it's prettier that way. We're going to still sell it. I mean, it's really not that hard. The cacti and succulents are one of the easiest things.

I have a lot of plants in my kitchen and sometimes my cats will just knock the succulent leaves in the floor and then when you're sweeping you'll see them already making roots just from the kitchen floor and you just stick them on a pot of soil and it'll grow.

These are cool.

Once we got these in we, you know everybody wanted it for this, but this has 6 little babies and you could pull them all out together.

It's kind of more of a tuber type situation. I'll pull him out too. Come on. Into my hands. All right?

So this one you know, you just kind of want to get under and snap it off of the mom.

And you just stick it in the top of soil.

Plant, you know? They're so great. And they grow really quickly because, I don't know, once they snap off, it's like they have this will to grow and just go crazy.

So today we're mostly going to focus on the African Violet, and so I'm going to slice off little leaves.

Let's see. So at these you can take any of the -- you want a mature leaf, but not one of the like older, you know, bottom leaves. You want more like these type at the top where they're full.

And then you go down as far as you can and cut it at about a 45 degree angle on the stem. And then I'll cut enough of these for all y'all I'm gonna. Oh I guess I can't walk around.

Do you want to grab these and hand them out?

And so we'll cut off 4 5-6-7-8. That's another one.

Oh and it's also important you use a sanitized knife, which I did clean this morning and if you were going to switch from, say, cutting this plant to that plant you would sanitize in between, but because they're just cutting off this, if this plant had a disease, I'm not going to spread it to itself, so you don't have to sanitize between every cut.

Yeah, I use rubbing alcohol. You just wipe it down with like a rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Like we all have hand sanitizer at this point.

Yeah, not just plain water. Yeah, like you want to sterilize it.

Second we got four or five. Right? Something like that. Is there not one more? Do you need one more? No OK.

With this one you know you all have the little dowels. I think the easiest way is to kind of just make a little hole right in the middle, big around as the stem, but not too deep.

Maybe only a centimeter and a half of fill or an inch, depending. You don't want the top of the leaf to touch the soil. You just want the stem in there.

I'll do one.

And then you just put it in the top and you can dip it in like a powdered rooting hormone if you have it, but it's not entirely necessary.

We have these are more liquid that you would use for like this or rose cuttings. This guy. This is more when you have more of a hard stem type of thing 'cause you soak it for 24 hours and these would not like that.

Well, right, that's true.

I usually moisten. Usually I use vermiculite to do this, but this is peat, which it works to hold the moisture.

And you know to water it, you're going to sit it in the water, not ever water from the top. That's all the African violets. You'll sit it in a little bowl or plate of water for about an hour or so, let it soak it up from the bottom because the top never wants to get wet. It will like damage the leaves.

But so once you have this, you have two little ziplock bags and while it's rooting, it kind of wants to stay humid. I didn't think these were going to be big enough to fully do it, so you put just one around the bottom and one around the top like its own little greenhouse.

You try not to let the bag touch the leaf, but you kind of, you just sit this in a warm medium light place and in about 6 to 8 weeks you'll start seeing, right at the base, teeny tiny little African Violet leaves growing up.

And then after about three to four months, you can actually take the plant out and put it in another --

We have the African Violet soil in there that works better. Put it in a pot with the holes at the bottom and it will turn into it's whole African Violet.

That's pretty fun.

We did one and I think it was within the year that it had already matured to the full size and started putting up blooms and that was the best one that I ever owned.

Every time I would buy one, I couldn't get, it to do that, but I would cut little leaves off and do this again and then that baby plant for some reason would take off and be way better than the original mother plant. So you can do 40 from 1 plant. It's just cool.

I think that's -- I mean, once you know, once you take it home, it doesn't want to be watered for really the first six weeks. That's why you keep it in the bags you know. So you just sit it and forget about it kind of thing.They're pretty great,

This is, by the way, a pink passion African Violet.So it'll be pink and sparkly like a mermaid.

I was also going to tell you a little bit about air layering, which is I don't do this one very much, but you can do it for things like roses or trees, or this is a Rubber Plant or Ficus.

All you would do -- I'm not gonna do it because of the sap. You want to wear gloves when you do it because the sap kind of can irritate your skin.

But you would just find, like say you have a really tall one, and you want it to be more bushy.

You would take off a few of the leaves around the stem and then cut a band like a millimeter deep.

A circle around the hard part of the stem, and then a line down to peel it away. Like -- almost like it was a banana peel kind of thing. And you just peel a little circle and then kind of paint a rooting hormone onto there and you take moist moss like sphagnum moss, or any kind of moss that'll hold moisture and you'll wrap it around like a band aid and then I take plastic bags, like a Walmart bag, and wrap it around. Kind of tie it tight. Double bagging tends to help hold the moisture in there a little better.

And then you'll zip tie the top and bottom just to keep that area with the ball of moss around it.

Every week or two you could open it up and mist it if it's drying out, but eventually that spot will start to just grow roots into the moss to where it's about two to three months, 6 to 8 weeks or so.

You can just snip it off right below the bag. Take the bag off and plant it in a pot of potting soil and it'll start branching out from the spot you cut it off. The mother plant will start branching out more little branches there and then that original one will start going straight up and you can do it again.

But you can do that with like trees outside if you have a tree and, you know, they'll start growing the little feeders off the bottom or whatever. Say it's a tree you really like.

You can do the same situation where you'll take like a plastic nursery pot and slice down the top and middle or side in the middle and wrap it around it. Fill it with moss really, you know moisture holding soil. Wrap it around there and just water that as if it's a potted plant connected to the mother tree. And then you can cut it off below the pot after about 8 weeks, and then that's a whole separate tree that's fully rooted.

With that one, you don't so much have to do the band of cutting. You kind of just would like scarify the bottom of it, so that it can start stimulating root growth into the pot.

And I forgot to mention this also works best if you do it in spring. Instead of like winter when it's trying to be dormant. Every plant kind of has it's natural cycle whether it's inside or outside. Somehow they know it's winter. So spring, I find, when they're starting to do their new growth, those new little stems that come out tend to do it the best. If you just scratch the bottom, wrap it in moss -- oh, and rooting hormone. But you just wrap it up in a ziplock bag and keep that area moist. And then you can cut that right off and it will work.

I know that some things won't produce. Like, say you did it to a peach tree. That baby peach tree may or may not make fruit later. So it would be different in that way. But things like, if you have a really pretty oak tree, you know, you can duplicate that same oak tree by this method.

I think that was most of what I had. I kind of just word-vomited that at y'all. Do you have questions?

Audience member: You said you could do that with roses too, right?

Yes. She asked if you can do this with roses and yes, it's the same, you would just remove limbs. It works best on like a newer growth, not the old hard cane, but the new growth you take off the extra leaves around the area. You can actually see, you know, nodes when you're pruning on those, so that's actually where the roots are most likely to come out. So just take the leaves off around that area. You can pull the little thorns off and then that's actually enough of the scarifying where you cut it with the knife. Make boo boos and then wrap the moss around that. Keep it moist. And that's -- that'll work, yeah.

A Hoya. That's you know, kind of like the succulent you just cut it down the stem. Take some of the little bottom leaves off and then sit it on the top of soil and it'll grow roots out of the side.

A Christmas cactus. Those are actually kind of like the cactus, where you just can twist the leaves off and set them on the top of soil.

You know, or you can take a whole limb off or multiple if you want it to look like a more full plant and stick the end right in the top of dirt and it'll grow roots right out of the bottom of it.

I think I didn't talk about tubers. You know, like if you have a bunch of lilies in the yard, Those are pretty easy. You just dig up the big old clump and usually take a knife and separate them. As long as there's a node on each one, it'll turn into its own lily, and you can spread them out. They tend to boom better if you do that.

If you separate them before they bloom, they won't bloom that year. So that's why usually if you would do it right after the bloom, then you have a chance of it blooming again the next year instead of having to wait for it to do its little cycle of sleep, creep and leap.

All right. anything else? No? All right, good.

Thank you for coming.


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