How to Propagate Houseplants - A Complete Guide

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How to Propagate Houseplant, Houseplant Propagation

Houseplant propagation is a trending, exciting topic among plant enthusiasts. It involves different techniques to reproduce and create new plants from an existing parent plant. While propagating your own plants may be new to many modern indoor gardeners, it is actually a long-standing practice in gardening and agriculture. Proper propagation requires an understanding of the plant's growth habits, environmental factors, and appropriate techniques for each type of plant. However, propagation is not difficult. It is a task anyone can tackle. 

Learning how to propagate plants can be both rewarding and cost-effective for any plant owner. Propagation also reduces the environmental impact of frequent plant purchases. Moreover, the process of watching the new plants thrive and grow can provide a refreshing break from our fast-paced modern lifestyles, resulting in a sense of contentment and fulfillment. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding and a detailed step-by-step approach to the various techniques of houseplant propagation. 

[Benefits and Risks]Houseplant Propagation – Benefits and Risks


Expanding plant collection: Propagating houseplants allows for the creation of new plants without having to purchase them. This is particularly useful for rare or expensive plants that may be difficult to find or purchase.

Cost-effective: Propagating houseplants is a cost-effective way to create new plants without having to spend money on buying them. This is particularly useful for those on a tight budget or those looking to save money.

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There are many benefits of propagating houseplants
Photo by ozgurcankaya

Environmental-friendly: Propagating houseplants can be a sustainable way to grow your collection. It reduces the need for purchasing new plants, which can have a negative impact on the environment due to shipping, packaging, and other factors.

Sense of accomplishment: Successfully propagating a houseplant can give a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It is very rewarding to observe the growth and development of new plants up close. 


Risk of failure: Plant propagation is not always successful, and there is a risk of failure. This process can be time-consuming and costly, especially if you need to make significant cuttings from a parent plant or invest in creating specific growing conditions for baby plants. If you encounter factors such as incorrect timing, inadequate moisture, poor soil conditions, or a plant with a defective gene, your propagation attempts may not be successful.

Disease transmission: Propagating from diseased plants can transmit diseases to new plants. It is important to ensure the parent plant is healthy and disease-free before propagating.
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Consider risk before propagating houseplants

Photo by JulieAlexK

[Preparation]Houseplant Propagation - Preparation

Choose a healthy parent plant: First, you need to choose the correct plant to propagate. Some plants propagate easily, while others may require more specialized techniques. Research the specific plant you want to propagate and make sure you understand the best methods for its particular needs. The parent plant should be healthy, problem-free, and does not have any diseases.

Choose the correct time to propagate: For a successful propagation, it's crucial to choose the right timing. This involves selecting the appropriate season and stage of growth for the parent plant. In general, the best time for plant propagation is during its active growing season. This season typically falls during spring and summer for many plants, while for others it may be during autumn and winter.

Tools: The tools required for propagation can vary depending on the specific method used, but here are some common tools that you may need: clean pruning shears or scissors, clean containers with good drainage, rooting hormone, well-draining soil or another rooting medium depending on the specific method used, spray bottle, plant labels. You may also need a seed starter tray. 

Houseplant Propagation Methods

Stem or leaf cuttings

Stem or leaf cutting propagation is a widely used and efficient method for propagating plants. This method involves taking a stem or leaf from a parent plant and rooting it to create a new plant. Here are the steps for stem or leaf cutting propagation:

  • Choose a healthy stem or leaf from a mature parent plant that is free from disease, pests, and damage.
  • Use clean, sharp scissors or pruners to make a cut just below a node for stem cuttings.  For leaf cuttings, either twist the leaf off the stem or use a sharp tool to make a clean cut.
  • Let the cutting callous over for a couple of days. 
  • Optional: Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to encourage root development.
  • Insert the cutting into moist soil or a rooting medium and create a mini greenhouse by covering it with a plastic bag or dome. For stem cutting, keep the leaves above the soil level. 
  • Place the cuttings in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Wait several weeks for roots to form before transplanting to a larger container or outside.

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Propagate houseplant by stem or leaf cutting

Photo by aphichart

Alternatively, stem or leaf cuttings can also be propagated in water following similar step-by-step process.

Some plants that are suitable for stem cutting propagation: Pothos, Spider plant, Philodendron, English Ivy, Jade plant, and Rubber plant

Plants that can be propagated from leaf cuttings: succulents like Echeveria, Snake plants, Crassula ovata, Peperomia.


Division involves dividing a plant into two or more smaller sections, each with their own set of roots and foliage. This is typically done with plants that have multiple stems or are clumping in habit, such as Peace Lily, Calatheas, Pilea peperomioides, and Snake plants. Follow these steps:

  • Choose a healthy and mature parent plant with a clumping growth habit that has multiple stems or shoots emerging from the base.
  • Dig up the parent plant from the soil, making sure to disturb the roots as little as possible.
  • Gently separate the plant into two or more sections, making sure that each section has a good portion of roots and shoots.
  • Trim away any dead or damaged foliage, and replant the sections in well-draining soil.
  • Water the newly planted sections thoroughly and place them in a location with bright, indirect light. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, and avoid fertilizing until new growth has emerged.


Offsets are small plants that grow from the base of a parent plant and have their own set of roots and foliage. These can be separated from the parent plant once they have matured enough to survive on their own. This method is commonly used for plants such as Spider Plants, Aloe Vera, and some succulents that grow offsets. Propagating with offsets is similar to propagating using division. Both division and offsets are complete plants with roots already, so it takes less time for baby plants to adjust and produce new growth. Both methods have a very high success rate. There are a few things you need to consider:

  • Wait until offsets are at least 1/3 to ½ the size of the parent plant before removing them.
  • Be extra gentle so you don’t damage the young foliage and fragile root systems. 
  • Avoid direct sunlight and overwatering.

Seed germination 

Growing new plants from seeds is a common and natural method of plant propagation. While it can take more time and effort compared to other methods, it is an effective way to produce new plants without having a parent plant on hand. You can grow many types of rare, exotic plants that are not readily for sale in your local plant stores. Here are the step-by-step seed germination process: 

  • Choose high-quality seeds and a good soil mix.
  • Soak the seeds in warm water of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-24 hours before planting.
  • Carefully put the seed on your soil mix, and make sure you leave enough space between each seed. It is recommended to use a seed starter tray with a lid.

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Use seed tray to propagate houseplants

Photo by Julie Clopper

  • Use a plastic cover for the tray to slow down evaporation and lock in humidity. The soil should be moistened by misting every couple of days. Place the tray in an airy, bright spot away from direct sunlight. 
  • When your seeds start to sprout and seedlings appear, remove the tray lid. Wait until baby plants are mature enough before transferring them from the germination tray to their own pots. 

Air layering

This is a classical propagation method in agriculture to create a new plant by encouraging root growth on a stem that is still attached to the parent plant. This method is commonly used for woody plants like Rubber plants. Air layering is a simple process that can be done at any time of the year, although the growing season (in spring or early summer) is still the best time for any type of propagation.

To air layer a plant, follow these steps:

  • Choose a healthy stem that is at least 1/2 inch thick and free from disease or damage. Make a 1-inch diagonal cut halfway through the stem, about 6-8 inches from the tip.
  • Insert a small ball of moist sphagnum moss or potting soil into the cut using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to secure it.
  • Cover the moss or soil ball and the cut area with a layer of moist peat moss or sphagnum moss and wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  • Wait for about 6-8 weeks or longer until roots develop around the moss. 
  • Cut the stem below the rooted area and pot it up in well-draining soil. Keep it in a warm and bright location, watering regularly until established.

Last note: Propagation can be a slow process, and success is not always guaranteed, so patience is essential. Don’t forget to provide both parent and baby plants with the right growing conditions and to take care of your green friends during the propagation process. This includes proper watering, stable temperatures, an ideal humidity level, and protection from pests and diseases

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