Plants 101

Tips & Tricks for a Successful Plant Propagation

If you’re propagating a plant by stem or leaf cutting, we have a few tips and tricks you can follow to ensure the cuttings take root and thrive within their new home.

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Propagation is fun and an easy way to grow your plant collection! Read on to find out our tips and tricks for setting your propagation up for success.

Getting a cutting in the mail

The shipping process may not always be kind to plants—it's natural to notice a dead leaf or partially decayed root upon arrival. Be sure to remove any dead/decaying plant material that may have succumbed to transit conditions. As long as some healthy growth remains, the cutting will still thrive.

Inspect all parts of the cutting to ensure there are no pests or signs of disease. Check the top and undersides of the leaves, the stems, and the roots if applicable. If your cutting is pest and disease free, you can integrate it right into your collection.

Otherwise, treat and quarantine the cuttings for about 1 week. You can refer to our Pest Guide if you’re unsure what some common plant pests may look like and how to treat them.

Rooted vs unrooted

If your cutting was rooted in soil then upon arrival it’ll be best to plant the cutting into a small planter with any standard indoor potting mix. Water the cutting, and provide ample light.

If your cutting was rooted in water then upon arrival you can place it back into a clear glass vessel with fresh water to continue rooting. Usually, once the roots get about 2-3 inches long it’ll be safe to transfer them into soil. Or, you can go ahead and plant directly into soil if the roots are long enough upon arrival.

Keep in mind that if your cutting arrived without roots then you’ll want to try a propagation method that is successful for the species you have. Some plants will root faster in water(most aroids or vining plants), while others root faster in soil. Use the method that is best for you and your plant. Localizing humidity to be higher around the cuttings, especially those being rooted in soil, will help to increase the chance of rooting. Lastly, rooting hormone can be used when propagating unrooted cuttings into soil. However, it’s not necessary as most houseplants root easily.

How to root a cutting

The most common propagation methods are either by stem or leaf cuttings. To get your cutting to root, the easiest way is to place the cutting in a glass vessel filled with water. When doing so, you’ll want the stems and exposed nodes submerged in water while the foliage remains dry at the top. Alternatively, you can also place the cutting in a small pot filled with potting mix, and water until evenly moist. Make sure the node (growth point) is below the soil. Localizing humidity around the cutting can also help to boost root production.

Recreate the environment

Know what your plant likes! Care for each plant will be different so you’ll need to do some research on the cutting you received or asking the plant parent who sent it along. Generally, what’s important is knowing how much direct sunlight a plant can tolerate, and only use warm/tepid water—never cold water for plants. Also, if it’s a more humidity sensitive plant, invest in a humidifier.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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