A Plant Doctor Explains How To Properly Propagate Your Plants Depending on the Type

Plant propagation is a wonderful way to share the wealth (and grow your plant family). The process is simple enough if you know what you're doing, according to plant doctor and stylist Maryah Greene.

"It seems like propagation has really gained popularity now that we've all really come to grips with the fact that we might have too many houseplants, and we might even want to share a couple of them with our friends," says Greene. "There are five different types of propagation methods, but the most common is called cutting. Cutting is the method of taking a piece of a baby plant from a mother plant, and reproducing it."

Experts In This Article

In the latest episode of Greene Thumb by Well+Good, a series on the Well+Good YouTube channel that's all about caring for your plants, Greene explains how to propagate plants in three different ways.

When propagating, you can work with pieces of plant that fall of your plant or cut off a piece. When cutting, Greene says to use clean, sharp shears, like the Niwaki Mainichi GR Pro Secateurs ($72).

"Before I propagate any plant, I make sure my cutting shears are clean by disinfecting them with rubbing alcohol," says Greene. "Before you go in and cut your plant, or even switch between different plants, make sure they're clean, and they have a sharp edge so that the propagation is successful. Now if you don't have cutting shears, you can absolutely use scissors, but make sure they're clean and make sure they're really sharp so you get a nice and clean cut."

When making your cuts, you want to cut at a node, which is a point on the main stem where new leaves grow. "The one node that you want to avoid is the newest one where the baby leaf is coming out, so you'll want to find an older point so that you're not disrupting any new growth," says Greene.

Once you've got your piece to propagate the following steps vary depending on the type of plant.

How to propagate leafy plants

Leafy plants like monsteras and pothos should be propagated in water. Take your cutting and place it in a glass of water for two to three weeks, or until the roots are about an inch long. It's important to make sure your plants aren't left in water for too long. "If the roots get too long, it may be difficult to take it out of the glass," says Greene, "Or over time, you might start to see the roots turning brown and mushy." Once the roots are long enough, place the plant in fresh soil.

How to propagate succulents

While you can follow the above steps for propagating succulents, there are two other methods that require even less work. You can plant a leaf by placing the tip into succulent soil ($20) or just throw a leaf on top of the soil. "Succulents are really easy to propagate and it's really nice especially when their leaves fall off on accident because you can just throw them in soil and watch them grow," she says. If planting a leaf, Greene says to first allow the tip of the leaf to dry out and scab over before placing it in soil.

Pot placement

Once your newly propagated plant has put down roots and you've moved it into a small pot, you want to place it in an environment where it will thrive. "You want to try your best to recreate its original environment, where the mother plant was sitting," says Greene.

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