Plant Propagation: How To Propagate Plants Different Types And Ways

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Perhaps the only thing better than having one of your favorite plants is having two of them.

But before you go shopping for another, you should consider propagating the one you have.

air layer propagationPin

Plants have different preferences for propagating, and most will propagate easily once you know which method to use.

NOTE: On rare occasions, cultivars or hybrids, such as Knock Out Roses, may be patented. In such cases, it may be illegal to propagate for commercial or personal benefit without permission from the patent holder.

What Are the Different Types of Plant Propagation?

Air Layering

Used primarily with epiphytes, air layering can be fun and is relatively easy to do.

When air layering, you cut off the outermost layer of bark on a stem, then wrap the wound in plastic wrap to keep moisture in.

It can take a few weeks for roots to grow, and you will have to rewrap occasionally to replenish the moisture.

Once ready, snip the stem below the new root line and plant it.

The pros of this method include getting to watch roots develop.

The downside is that a steady hand is often essential.


One of the most popular methods, division, involves dividing a plant at the roots.

One can divide some branching plants by cutting vertically through the central stem. Clumping plants, such as aloe, rarely need to be cut.

Division is an excellent method when available because you can do it during repotting, and prune away diseased roots as well.

The only downside is that it can be easy to harm some more sensitive plants if you’re not careful.

Leaf Cuttings

Many plants will grow from leaf cutting.

The clippings should be fresh and healthy, and the exact method varies.

For example, hoyas and peperomias need a section of the petiole (leaf stem) dipped into a rooting hormone.

Meanwhile, snake plants can propagate from a section of the leaf.

African violets can use both of these methods.

Another variation, split-vein, involves bisecting several leaf veins and keeping the leaf flat on a growing medium.

Finally, trailing, vining plants such as blackberry and dracaena can be propagated via leaf-bud cuttings.

This final method involves carving away a part of the stem that includes both a leaf and an axillary bud.

Leaf cuttings are sometimes an efficient and straightforward method of propagating, especially if you’ve been pruning.

Unfortunately, it won’t work on many plants, so this method gets overlooked.


A popular method for spider plants and succulents uses offshoots. They are the little plantlets that spring up from runners, offshoots, and rhizomes.

These can easily take root when introduced to soil. But they sometimes have to root before separating from the mother plant.

It can be difficult to call this method propagation, as it tends to be self-propagation with a bit of human help.


One would think that seed propagation is the obvious route to take, but in reality, many of your plants may be unable to produce viable seeds.

Many cultivars are sterile, while some hybrids may produce the seeds of a parent plant.

In addition, the seeds of many plants have low viability and need immediate sowing.

Finally, many plants, especially tropical ones, have a lot of trouble producing flowers indoors and may never bloom.

For those plants that can propagate through seeds, the method is fairly universal and mainly requires some patience.

Soil Layering

Soil layering is a peculiar method you likely know of but never realized.

Tomatoes are one example of a plant that can be soil layered, as can plants that produce runners.

To propagate through soil layering, bend a low branch or vine down to the soil, pin it with a paperclip or similar item, and then cover it in soil.

Propagate H carnosa using simple layering.Pin

After a while, roots will form, and a new plantlet will sprout. Treat it as you would any offshoot.

Stem Cuttings

The most popular method of propagation, stem cuttings are usually harvested during a pruning session.

In most cases, the stem will contain one or more leaves and may need a few days to form a callus before planting.

Stem propagation is widespread because it works on most plants and has a high success rate among even tricky plants.

Plus, you are more likely to get a good clone of cultivars that may revert to the parent species using seeds.

There are a few types of plants this method won’t work on, usually due to a lack of stem.

Water Propagation

Chances are, the term “water propagation” makes you think of hydroponics.

This method is a variation of stem cutting propagation.

The big difference is that you’re putting the stem in water instead of soil.

Oddly, this method works on many plants vulnerable to root rot, while it does not work with some species with hardier roots.

Other Propagation Methods

Three other propagation methods don’t fit in the main list.

These methods are listed below.


This method propagates hybrids and involves taking a bud with minimal stem and inserting it into a cut in the rootstock.

It can also create offshoots if the two parts are on the same plant.


Perhaps the best-known method of creating hybrids is grafting.

This process is where you cut a stem or twig from one plant and bind it to a cut section of another, so they heal into one plant.

Grafting can give you some fun plants, such as the five-apple tree and the tomato-potato plant, and is how most hybrid roses begin.

Unfortunately, it’s not a good choice for multiplying plants and can be more complicated than other methods.

Tissue Culture

The newest and fanciest method of propagation is cloning through tissue culture.

While this is undoubtedly the best method out there, it requires a sterile environment and isn’t for the average Joe.

Currently, this method is mainly used for commercial mass-production. But it may become more widely available in the future.

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