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4 Easy Methods for Propagating Houseplants

For those who want to add greenery to their life, even without a garden, let me introduce you to propagating! Today, I’m sharing four different methods you can use for propagating houseplants. With this guide, you can multiply the existing plants you have and create your very own home jungle.

Propagating Houseplants

Watching new life grow within my home gets me really excited. For first-time propagators, you’ll see! You walk by every day and take a peep at your houseplants to watch them grow new roots and leaves. Propagating is extremely rewarding and oh-so-satisfying, producing new plants oftentimes in less than one month.

For new and old plant lovers, propagating plants is an easy way to fill up your home based on what you already have. If a plant is doing well within your home, why not grow another one right?

Besides, every person needs a houseplant. If I befriend someone new and notice their house doesn’t have a houseplant, you bet I will be stopping by with one of my propagations. If you’re looking for a thoughtful and affordable gift, why not gift them a plant baby you spent weeks watching over?

variegated plant growing in water

How Do You Propagate an Indoor Plant?

Making new plant babies is quite easy! There are four different methods for propagating houseplants: water propagation, stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and division.

For some plants, only one of the methods will work. For other plants, you can use multiple methods for propagating houseplants. I’ve outlined each method below and the types of plants that will work best for this method.

Spring is wonderful time to propagate houseplants as they too are waking up from a winter sleep, ready to produce some new growth. This means your new cuttings and plant babies are likely to grow quicker and easier!

Remember, not all the plants will take and that’s okay. Humidity, the temperature in the home, sunlight, amount of moisture, and the health of the mother plant will all play a role in the success of your plant. But soon enough, you’ll have a budding plant lady (or guy) haven inside your very own home. Let’s walk through how to propagate plants with these 4 different methods.

ficus cuttings in glasses of water

Water Propagation

Water propagation maybe my favourite method of propagating houseplants because you get to watch the action. Plus, this method is quick! Whenever I take a cutting in water, I am always sure to place it in a clear glass container so I can watch the roots grow.

1. Find a Plant Node

To propagate a plant in water, you will want to find the nodes of a plant. Essentially, this is anywhere a leaf is coming out of the plant. Cut just below the node, ensuring that your plant has 3-4 leaves. Your plant needs enough leaves to photosynthesize and produce energy.

propagating houseplants in glasses of water

2. Add Cutting to Water

Dunk your cutting in water and make sure no leaves are submerged as they will rot and cause bacteria. Place your little cuttings somewhere warm and with lots of sun to promote new growth. You will need to refill the water often to keep the node submerged, and water should be replaced completely after one week.

How to propagate African Violets.

3. Plant in Soil

When your roots are one inch or longer, they are ready for some potting soil! This usually takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks, but can be longer for some houseplants. Moisten your soil beforehand. Create a well or use your finger to poke a hole for your cutting. Feel free to place a few cuttings in the same pot to really fill up a plant.

African violet leaf propagation in soil

4. Water Well and Keep Moist

Water the plant thoroughly after planting. You will also want to keep the soil fairly moist for the first two weeks to encourage more root growth.

Propagated houseplants by a windowsill

What Houseplants Can You Root in Water?

  • Pothos
  • Monstera
  • Begonia
  • Philodendron
  • String of hearts
  • ZZ plant
  • Croton
  • Arrowhead vine
  • Lipstick plant
  • Hoya
  • Peperomia
  • Pilea
  • Prayer plant
  • Most aroid plants

Stem Cutting Propagation

Stem cuttings are similar to water cuttings in how you prepare them, but instead of sticking them in water, you will place them directly in the soil. This method for propagating houseplants works great for fast-growing plants with multi-stems.

self-watering planter to root cuttings in soil

1. Cut Below the Node and Add Rooting Hormone

Like water propagation, cut your plant 3-5 inches from the top of the stem (with enough leaves left for photosynthesis) and just below a node. Pull off any lower leaves and dip the end of your cutting into a rooting hormone, such as the willow water recipe in Garden Alchemy.

2. Place in Soil

Now, moisten your soil, take a pencil or your finger and poke a hole in it. Place your plant in the hole and carefully pat down the soil. It may need some support since it has no roots to anchor it. Feel free to place a clear plastic bag over top to help retain moisture while it’s growing.

3. Transplant (Optional)

Once you are able to give the plant a small tug and it resists, it has successfully rooted and is ready for transplant if you wish.

What Indoor plants Can Grow from Leaf Cuttings?

  • Chinese evergreens
  • African violet
  • Jade
  • Ficus
  • Prayer plant
  • Most other plants that also enjoy water propagation

Leaf Cutting Propagation

Leaf cuttings are similar to stem cutting for propagating houseplants. Instead, some plants only need a single leaf to reproduce. If you have a bushy plant that likes this method, you get endless propagation and baby plant possibilities.

leaf cuttings in terracotta pots

1. Cut a Leaf

The most common method of leaf cuttings is to cut a single leaf with a hint of a stem left.

2. Add Rooting Hormone and Plant

Dip the cutting into the willow water rooting hormone for an extra boost and then stick it in moist potting soil. Do not place the cutting upside down, or it will not root.

After 2-3 weeks, the plant should have some roots established and a new baby plant will begin to grow. Eventually, the parent leaf will die and decompose.

What Indoor plants Can Grow from Leaf Cuttings?

Most succulents will also grow from a single leaf. For more info read my guide on succulent propagation. Other plants include:

  • Jade
  • Cactus
  • Snake plants
  • African violet
  • Peperomia
  • Begonia
  • Swedish ivy
  • ZZ plant

Division Propagation

Do you have an overcrowded houseplant? It may be a great candidate for division! In order to be divided, the plant needs to have an established root system. Plants that have rhizomes, tubers, or multiple-stems work well for division.

overgrown plant in pot

1. Divide the Plant

To perform a plant division, remove the plant from the container and gently shake off excess soil. Gently pry apart sections of the plant, ensuring each section has a good amount of roots and leaves still attached. If the roots or stems are very close together and difficult to pull apart, you can use a sharp, clean knife to cut the roots apart.

2. Transplant into Potting Soil

Transplant each of your sections directly into moist houseplant soil. Pat soil down firmly and water your plant thoroughly. Like the other methods, keep the soil moist for the first couple of weeks to encourage the plant to grow roots again.

Pilea peperomioides plant division

What Indoor plants Can Grow from Division?

Some houseplants will have little baby plants growing that you can easily pull off (with roots some roots) and plunk it in some soil. For example, spider plants are notorious for shooting out baby plants left and right. Others include:

  • ZZ plant
  • Birds of paradise
  • Bromeliads
  • Oxalis
  • Peace lily
  • Snake plant
  • Calathea
  • Prayer plant
  • Palm
  • Peacock plant
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Ferns

Common Houseplants for Propagation

How to Propagate a Snake Plant

Snake plants grow from rhizomes and are easily divided. If your plant has a ton of offshoots from the bottom, this is the best method to go. Cut the base apart into sections, leaving approximately 3 rhizomes and at least one healthy leaf per division. Plant each division into a potting soil.

Alternatively, you can cut a healthy leaf and place it directly in water until new roots form. Or, you can take that cutting, dip it into the willow water rooting hormone from Garden Alchemy, and place it directly in the soil. After a couple of weeks, the plant will have new roots.

snake plant division with soil

Spider Plant Propagation

Spider plants are always creating mini versions of themselves with spiderettes. These plant babies can be grown directly in soil or water. The process is fairly easy! Simply look for spiderettes that have tiny roots already growing out of them. Snip them off and place in water for up to a week or directly in soil.

ZZ Plant Propagation

ZZ plants have rhizomes, which make them a great candidate for division. However, it can only be done sparingly as rhizomes take time to grow. Divide your ZZ plant only when there is overcrowding.

Otherwise, you can use stem or leaf cuttings to propagate your ZZ plant. Stems cuttings will grow the fastest while leaf cuttings will take more time. After your take a cutting, wait a couple of hours for the cut to callus. Next, place your cutting in my willow water rooting hormone and then in a good draining soil. Be patient and wait for your ZZ plant to slowly grow new roots!

Jade Plant Propagation

Every time I repot my jade plant, I end up accidentally knocking off a leaf. Instead of tossing that leaf into the compost, I can actually make a new baby jade with it. Leaf cuttings are very easy to do to propagate a jade plant, but may not always be successful.

Wait for your jade leaf to dry up and heal the wound from being detached. Eventually, tiny white roots will begin to protrude. Place the leaf on a potting soil meant for succulents, and watch it grow! Eventually, the parent leaf will shrivel as a new jade plant takes form.

You can also do this method with a whole cutting. Be sure to select a cutting that has a few leaves and is a few inches tall. Place your cutting in a glass (without water) and wait for it to grow some tiny white roots before planting.

Prayer plant with green leaves and red markings

Prayer Plant Propagation

Prayers plants can be propagated using 3 methods: water, stem cuttings, and division. For water cuttings, select where you will cut by finding the nodes. You will want to cut just below a node, close to the bottom of the stem, and make sure there are some healthy leaves on top. Place in water and wait.

For stem cuttings, you will follow the same steps. Instead of placing in water, dip in the willow water rooting hormone and then place your prayer plant in low light and keep moist.

If dividing, do so in early spring when the plant is overcrowded and needs to be repotted. Carefully separate offshoots and different stems, ensuring each division has enough leaves and roots to sustain itself. Pot new divisions and keep them fairly moist for the first two weeks.

With these tips on propagating houseplants, you will have an endless supply of plant babies without having to spend a dollar at the garden centre!

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