The act of growing more plants is called propagation. Some houseplants will do most of the work of propagating themselves. Others will readily grow into new plants from cuttings or a piece of root. Alternatively, they can be produced from external sources, such as a new pack of seeds.
Here are some of the simplest ways to create more houseplants, which will produce a clone of the original. This is a great way to bulk up stock, replace older plants or make a lovely, personal gift.
Many succulents, such as Aloe, Agave and Echeveria, produce miniature versions of themselves, which grow from the side of the main plant. These baby plants are called “offsets”, or “pups”, and can be severed from the main plant and put into their own pot to grow and mature.
To propagate, simply cut away the pup, trying to keep as much root attached to it as possible, and plant into a small pot of compost and grit.
The long, dangling stems of mini plantlets are characteristic of the spider plant. In the wild, these would be looking to root themselves into something and grow into mature plants. To replicate this process at home, put a small pot of multipurpose compost under the first plantlet that is attached to a strong-looking stem (known as a “runner”) and cut off the rest of the stem beyond that plantlet.
If the plantlet sits comfortably in the compost, it can just be left. Otherwise, pin down the stem with a hairpin or half a paperclip, which will keep the base of the plantlet just under the surface.
Keep the compost in the pot moist, and the plantlet should root into it relatively quickly. Once the plantlet is rooted correctly into its own container, cut off the stem or runner from both the mother plant and the plantlet. Pot on into a larger pot as it grows.
It is easy to grow ginger from “roots”; bought from a supermarket. Use the plumpest, freshest-looking roots. Organic ones are preferable because commercial growth inhibitors are sometimes used on non-organic roots which can stop them sprouting once planted. You may find there are already some swollen buds visible.
Plant in a shallow pot in multipurpose compost, so that the root is about half submerged in the compost. Keep the compost moist and the pot in a hot place (ideally 25 to 28 C). Shoots should sprout from the root. Once it is established in the shallow container, it can be potted up to a larger one. In the autumn, cut back the old stems as they die. Ginger always prefers a warm room and does not tolerate lower temperatures.
A cutting is simply a small piece of a healthy shoot that is cut off from the main plant and inserted into a pot of compost. It then produces roots and grows into a new plant. Several new plants can be created from a single original plant.
Scented pelargoniums are one of the most natural plants from which to take cuttings. The type of cutting used for pelargoniums is called a soft-wood cutting, as they are taken from the soft, flexible stems of the new growth.
Take pelargonium cuttings from healthy, well-watered plants in spring or summer. To increase your chances of success, cut a few shoots, but be sure to cut only leafy material; there should be no flowers or flower buds. Each cutting should be about 10cm long.
The base of each cutting should be just below a leaf joint (“node”). Remove the leaves with a sharp knife to leave a clear piece of stem at the base and a few leaves at the top. The soft tip of the shoot can also be pinched out.
Prepare a small pot with compost, large enough for a few cuttings to be planted. Clear a hole in the compost using a pencil, to avoid damaging the end of the cutting. Several cuttings can be spaced evenly around the edge of the pot. Once the cuttings have produced roots and are growing into their own plants, they can be potted up.
Water the pot and label it. Keep it in a warm and humid environment, with good but not direct sunlight. Use a covered heated propagator or fix a plastic bag over the top of the plant (with support so that the bag is not touching the cuttings themselves), ensuring the cuttings are ventilated for a short while a couple of times a day. Alternatively, mist regularly.
A Helping Hormone
Before potting, you could dip the base of the cutting in hormonal rooting powder (available below), which will help the cuttings root.
Skelly Tray and 12 Bio Pots
There is a positive pressure and desire to reduce single-use plastics now, and these compressed peat Jiffy Bio pots are perfect, giving three to four months of growing plants in them as they slowly degrade. This means, once the plant has rooted, you can add the entire pot and all directly into your garden or planter. Recently launched at the UK’s premier Horticultural Trade Show, it won Best New Professional Product.
A brand-new product saves single-use plastic pots and allows roots to breathe.
Unique ‘skeleton’ design exposes bio pots to the air, which ‘prunes’ the roots, giving more compact plants.
The bio pots allow any plants to be grown in them for 3-4 months before they degrade naturally.
Once rooted through plant the whole bio pot straight into the ground for zero transplant delay.
Supplied as a tray pre-filled with 12 x 8cm diameter bio pots – top-up packs available.
Share Your Story
Do you enjoy creating your own plants? What methods do you use? Do you have any suggestions or questions? Please add your comments below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.