Module 27: Plant Propagation 101

Plant propagation is a great way to do it if you’re a beginner gardener looking to expand your plant collection.

In this article, we’ll introduce the key plant propagation techniques and each method’s pros and cons.

Leaf-cutting propagation

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to multiply your plants
  • Understand the different types of plant propagation
  • Practice propagating plants at home

How to Multiply Your Plants

Propagation is the process of creating new plants from existing ones, which can be done in several ways.

Seed Propagation:

Seed propagation is the most common method of plant propagation. It involves collecting seeds from your existing plants and sowing them in soil. The advantages of seed propagation are that it’s easy and inexpensive, and you can propagate many plants simultaneously. Some plants that can be propagated through seeds include sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnias.

To try seed propagation at home, collect the seeds from your favourite plants when they’re mature and dry. Then, sow them in pots filled with potting soil and water regularly. Keep the pots in a warm, sunny spot, and you’ll soon see the seeds germinate and grow into new plants.

Stem Cutting Propagation:

Stem-cutting propagation involves cutting from the stem of an existing plant and rooting it in soil. This method is great for plants that are difficult to propagate from seeds or that don’t produce seeds. Some plants that can be propagated through stem cuttings include lavender, mint, and rosemary.

Select a healthy stem with a few leaves to try stem-cutting propagation at home. Cut the stem below a node (where the leaves grow) and remove the lower leaves. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant the stem in a pot filled with potting soil. Keep the soil moist and in a bright spot, and the stem will soon take root and grow into a new plant.

Leaf Cutting Propagation:

Leaf-cutting propagation involves taking a leaf from an existing plant and rooting it in the soil. This method is great for plants with interesting foliage, such as succulents and begonias.

To try leaf-cutting propagation at home, select a healthy leaf from your plant and cut it off. Make sure to include the stem. Dip the stem in rooting hormone and plant it in a pot filled with potting soil. Keep the soil moist and in a bright, warm spot, and the leaf will soon take root and grow into a new plant.

Division Propagation:

Division propagation involves separating an existing plant into several smaller plants. This method is great for plants that have outgrown their pot or are starting to look crowded. Some plants that can be propagated through division include hostas, daylilies, and ornamental grasses.

Remove the plant from its pot to try division propagation at home and gently separate the root ball into smaller sections. Plant each section in its own pot filled with potting soil and water well. Keep the soil moist and in a bright spot, and the new plants will soon start to grow.

In addition to the methods mentioned above, there are other ways to propagate plants, such as layering, grafting, and tissue culture. However, these methods are more advanced and require more knowledge and skill.

Pros and Cons of Plant Propagation:

Plant propagation has many advantages, including creating new plants for free, expanding your plant collection, and preserving your favourite plants. However, it can also be time-consuming and requires some patience and care.

In conclusion, plant propagation is a great way to multiply your plants and create a beautiful garden. You can try all these methods at home and have fun experimenting with different plants with a little practice and patience.

Activity

  • Try propagating a plant at home using one of the techniques mentioned in this article.
  • Share your experience with other beginner gardeners online via our Facebook page.
  • Consider attending a plant propagation workshop or course to learn more about this fascinating subject.

Practical steps on plant propagation:

Stem Cutting Propagation

Example Plant: Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Equipment:

  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Potting soil
  • Container for planting
  • Watering can or spray bottle
  • Rooting hormone (optional)

Steps:

  1. Cut a 4-6 inch section of stem with 2-3 leaves attached.
  2. Remove the leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the stem.
  3. Dip the cut end in the rooting hormone (optional).
  4. Plant the stem cutting in potting soil, making sure the bottom 2 inches are buried.
  5. Water the soil and place the container in a warm, bright spot.
  6. Keep the soil moist and watch for new growth in a few weeks.

Potential issues:

  • Overwatering can cause the cutting to rot. Only water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
  • If the leaves start to wilt or turn brown, it may be a sign of too much or too little light.

Leaf Cutting Propagation

Example Plant: African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)

Equipment:

  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Potting soil
  • Container for planting
  • Watering can or spray bottle

Steps:

  1. Gently remove a healthy leaf from the plant, including the stem.
  2. Cut the stem of the leaf to about 2 inches in length.
  3. Insert the stem into potting soil, making sure it is buried up to the base of the leaf.
  4. Water the soil and place the container in a warm, bright spot.
  5. Keep the soil moist and watch for new growth in a few weeks.

Potential issues:

  • If the leaf starts to wilt or turn brown, it may be a sign of too much or too little light or water.
  • It can take longer for African violet leaf cuttings to root than other plants, so be patient.

Division Propagation

Example Plant: Hosta (Hosta spp.)

Equipment:

  • Pruning shears or a sharp knife
  • Potting soil
  • Container for planting
  • Watering can or spray bottle

Steps:

  1. Gently dig up the entire plant, being careful not to damage the roots.
  2. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to divide the plant into sections, making sure each section has its own set of roots.
  3. Plant each section in potting soil in a separate container.
  4. Water the soil and place the containers in a shady spot.
  5. Keep the soil moist and watch for new growth in a few weeks.

Potential issues:

  • Make sure each divided section has enough roots to support itself.
  • If the leaves start to wilt or turn brown, it may be a sign of too much or too little light or water.

Remember to always sanitize your equipment before and after propagating plants to prevent the spread of diseases. It’s also important to be patient and attentive, as propagation can take time and require some trial and error.


Seed Propagation

Example Plant: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

Equipment:

  • Seed starting mix/seed compost
  • Seed trays or pots
  • Plastic wrap or a humidity dome
  • Grow lights or a sunny windowsill
  • Watering can or spray bottle
  • Seeds
  • Optional: a seed-starting heating mat

Steps:

  1. Fill seed trays or pots with seed starting mix.
  2. Plant seeds according to package instructions, usually about ¼ inch deep.
  3. Lightly water the soil.
  4. Cover the trays or pots with plastic wrap or a humidity dome to retain moisture.
  5. Place the trays or pots under grow lights or on a sunny windowsill.
  6. Keep the soil moist by watering with a spray bottle or watering can.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap or humidity dome once the seeds have sprouted.
  8. Continue to grow the seedlings under grow lights or in a sunny spot until they are ready to be transplanted into larger containers or directly into the garden.

Potential issues:

  • Overwatering can cause seeds to rot or fungus to grow. Only water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
  • Seeds may fail to germinate if they are too old or if the soil temperature is not warm enough.
  • Seedlings may become leggy if they do not receive enough light, so make sure to provide adequate lighting.

Remember to always label your seed trays or pots with the name of the plant and the date planted to keep track of your seedlings. Additionally, make sure to harden off your seedlings before transplanting them into the garden to prevent shock. This involves gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over the course of several days.

Coming Next

Well done, you’re finished for the day. We hope you enjoyed this one and it gave you a good plant propagation guide.

Updated on March 5, 2024

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