How to Propagate Indoor Plants: A Beginner’s Guide

How to propagate indoor plants, let’s discuss. What could be more fun than growing your own plant family? Small plants of which you can see the roots developing and new leaves growing. The cuttings get their own character, completely adapted to your home. Cuttings are the ultimate way to expand your plant family.

The basic elements

The best time of year to propagate your plants is in the spring. There is enough light and heat for your cuttings to root and grow well.

Always use clean material when you propagate your plants. So clean your knife or scissors with a little alcohol. This prevents you from accidentally transferring bacteria from one plant to another. Preferably also clean the pots before you put soil in them.

Preferably plants that are healthy and strong, your cuttings will grow more easily. Choose the sturdy parts of a plant, and not the very young growth that needs to develop further.

How to Propagate Indoor Plants A Beginner's Guide

Make sure you don’t make your cuttings too big. Your cutting does not yet have roots to absorb enough water and to provide all the leaves with moisture. Depending a bit on the size of the mother plant, the ideal cutting is about 10 to 15 centimeters long. Always remove some of the lower leaves from your cutting, that is the trunk that will soon go into the ground or under the water.

As the last basic element, you need a dose of patience. Some cuttings root within a few weeks, but others can take months to do so. As long as your cutting still looks healthy, and is not dried out or wilted, it is busy developing roots.

Recognize the type of cutting

You can propagate different plants in different ways because not all plants can be propagated in the same way. With some plants, a single leaf is enough, while for other plants you really need a piece of the stem.

With some plants, you quickly recognize how you can take cuttings. If your plant has long stems with aerial roots next to the leaves, you can take a stem cutting. These are for example the Monstera deliciosa, Monstera adansonii, Epipremnum plants, and many Philodendrons.

Does your plant grow on a sturdy trunk, which may or may not branch? Then you can make a header. But you can also divide the trunk into several pieces and let an intermediate piece take root. Think, for example, of the Ficus, Yucca, or Dracaena.

Succulents such as a Sedum Burrito often have leaves that you can remove completely from the trunk. A whole new plant can grow from such a leaf cutting. This is also possible with some Peperomias and Begonias.

Cuttings in the ground or in the water?

You can root your plants in different ways. The easiest way for most cuttings is to root them in water. You can keep a close eye on whether your cuttings are doing well and you don’t have to worry about watering too little. The new roots that will grow will also fill your glass vases very nicely! The only drawback to this method is that your plant has to get used to it for a while when you put it in the potting soil. Then it is good to keep the soil slightly moist until you see that your plant is adapting well.

Plants that you propagate with a single leaf can be placed directly in or on the ground.

A cutting always needs a little more care than an adult plant. Especially if there are no roots on your cuttings yet, it is still a challenge for your plant to absorb water. You can help the cuttings in the soil by making a small greenhouse over the plant. You can do this easily with a plastic bag. It doesn’t have to be completely airtight and it’s good to air it out every now and then.

Frequently asked questions about cutting your plants

When do you put your cutting in the ground?

Imagine: the roots of your cutting have already developed well, and you want to put it in the ground, but you wonder what the best moment is. 
For most plants, if the roots are about 5 to 10 centimeters, you can put the plant in the ground. With larger cuttings, such as cuttings from a Monstera deliciosa, it is better to wait a little longer. If you leave your cuttings in the water for a long time, the plant will not grow as much. 
Of course, it looks very nice, those roots on water. 
So if you don’t mind that the plant doesn’t grow as much, it’s best to leave it in water.

Is it bad if you cut off part of the mother plant?

Not at all! 
Most plants don’t mind being pruned at all and will actually grow fuller. 
Your plant is stimulated to develop new leaves again and will put a lot of energy into sprouting again.

My cutting in water turns brown on the underside

If the cut surface turns brown, but otherwise remains firm, there is nothing to worry about. But if the twig also becomes soft, it is a sign that your cutting is rotting. Cut off all brown from your cutting and change the water every few days. You can possibly dip your cutting in cutting powder, this ensures that bacteria have less influence on the plant.

Best plant for cuttings

The best-known plant for cuttings is perhaps the pancake plant or Pilea peperomioides. It grows its own cuttings that you can easily remove from the mother plant. But did you know that you can propagate most plants at home, without having to do or buy complicated things? With scissors, some glasses with water, pots with soil, and some patience you can go a long way!

Are you already inspired to start cutting your plants? If possible, always make more than one cutting, because it can always happen that your plant does not survive. And if you have too many afterward, you can share or trade your new plants with other plant lovers!

Which plants have you already planted? Share your experience in the comments below.

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