Plant Propagation for Beginners

Propagating plants might sound like a drag, but depending on what type of plant you’re working with, it can be simple. Follow our steps below and you’ll be putting the ‘pro’ in propagation in no time.

Plant Propagation for Beginners

Words by The Sill

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Propagating plants might sound like a drag, but depending on what type of plant you’re working with, it can be simple. Follow our steps below and you’ll be putting the ‘pro’ in propagation in no time.

Propagation is not always successful on the first few tries, but we encourage you start somewhere because...it’s rewarding when it works! You. Got. This. We suggest trying to propagate with easy plants first, i.e., Aroid plants, before trying with more difficult plants (we’re looking at you, Fiddle Leaf Fig).

Propagation for many plants is best done in soil, but some plants can be propagated in water. This is because they have evolved in an environment that allows it. Most Aroid plants can be propagated in water, and include plants in the family Araceae: Pothos, Philodendron, Monstera, Aglaonema, Anthurium, and ZZ plants. These plants originate from an ancestor that lived in swamps, so being able to adapt to flooding conditions and still being able to grow was key to survival. As a result, the descendents of that ancestor have the ability to grow in water too. However, they are still land plants and will do best if planted in soil over the long term.

Follow our easy steps to below and you’ll be putting the ‘pro’ in propagation in no time.

What you’ll need:
  • A plant
  • Scissors
  • A glass vessel filled with tepid water
Step 1

On a mature vine, look right below the leaf or stem/vine juncture for a tiny brown root node. These tiny bumps are the key to propagating pothos and philodendrons. You’ll want to snip off a couple inches of healthy stem right before a node and include a node or two with the cutting, as this is where the new growth will come from. 

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Step 2

Remove any leaves too close to the node, especially ones that might end up under water when you put your cutting into your glass vessel. (see Step 3) 

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Step 3

Place plant cutting in your glass vessel and place this in a spot that receives bright to moderate indirect light. Do not place in strong, direct light or super-low light. (Learn more about your plant's light needs here

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Step 4

Arguably, the most difficult step. Be patient. Check root growth from the node on a weekly basis. Add fresh, tepid water when needed. You can replace the water every few days, or simply top off the vessel with fresh water when it’s looking low—as long as there is no murkiness or fungi growing. If the water is murky, we recommend replacing it for the health of the root system, and for aesthetics.

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Getting Dirty

If you’d like to transplant your cutting from this glass vessel into a planter with potting mix, we recommend waiting until the root is at least 1 inch long or longer. This should take 4-6 weeks. Once the roots of the cutting are potted in fresh potting mix, saturate that mix with fresh water and place in bright indirect light, then let dry and treat like a regular* houseplant. (Learn more about potting here)

*(like a queen)

Water, Water Everywhere

If you want to keep it growing your plant in water indefinitely, that is totally a viable option. A word of warning: the longer your cutting sits in water, the worse the plant could fare. Why? Water has no nutrients, and you also increase the risk for potential fungal infections. You can help to combat this by changing out the water regularly and adding a tiny bit of fertilizer every month or so during the growing season.

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