The way your garden develops. Propagation of Plants


Growing your plant stock through plant propagation is cheap or even free. You probably already have everything you need, including pots, planting medium, rooting hormone, and robust secateurs.

The topic of plant propagation has been the subject of numerous books. The fundamentals are briefly covered in this article.


Plants are typically propagated by harvesting seeds from existing plants in the garden. Lettuce and celery, for example, need sunlight to germinate, but phlox and allium must be covered entirely.

Starting plants indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost is recommended for the majority of plants. Some vegetation cannot tolerate being transplanted or can survive only mild frosts. Those seedlings do better when put in the ground outside. Peas, carrots, corn, beans, nasturtiums, morning glories, and cucumbers are just a few examples.

Direct outdoor sowing at the end of summer is ideal for most perennials. This will allow the plants to go through their normal cold cycle, resulting in a more robust crop in spring.

Soaking tough seeds like nasturtiums, morning glories, and four o’clock in warm water for 12 hours before planting improves their chances of germinating.

When: Annuals in the spring, perennials, and biennials in the fall when the heat of summer has subsided.


Plants that have reached maturity can be easily multiplied through division. Most herbaceous perennials require periodic division to maintain their health and flowering potential. Heuchera, daylilies, and pampas grasses are just a few examples.

Daisies and bee balms, on the other hand, will rapidly multiply if left to their own devices. You can limit their spread and use the new plants to cover up empty spaces in your garden by dividing them.

Either dig out the entire clump and break the root ball into smaller pieces or remove a section of the cluster with a shovel. The remaining plant roots will be protected if you successfully do so.

When: fall is the time to divide spring-flowering plants, while spring is the time to separate fall-flowering ones.

Rooted vegetation

Bearded irises, peonies, lily of the valley, and mint are just a few examples.

You can uproot tiny rhizomes and replace them elsewhere. After the plant has completed flowering in the summer, dig it up and divide the rhizome into 2- to 4-inch-long pieces, leaving the leafy growth intact on one end.

When they have completed their vegetative cycle, usually around the end of summer or early September.


Strawberry, raspberry, and spider plants benefit from this method. Pin a runner to the ground and take it with you. Once the plant has established roots, you can separate it from the parent plant and transplant it to a new location.

When: whenever they begin to spread using runners.


This is the most basic form of propagation for most woody plants, including roses. In addition to the species above, butterfly bushes, weigela, pelargonium, fuchsia, delphinium, forsythia, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, and African violets can also be grown from cuttings.

Soft, green tip cuttings, woody stem cuttings, leaf and petiole cuttings, and root cuttings are the four primary forms of cuttings.

To ensure the plant’s survival, stem, and tip cuttings should be at least 3 inches long. Wound the cutting by creating a longitudinal cut or pressing the bottom to encourage new root growth.

The roots of many plants, including mint, can develop in water. Sticking a leaf with a long petiole into the soil helps encourage the rooting of other plants, such as African violets and hydrangeas. Large-leafed plants, such as hydrangeas, benefit from having their leaves lopped in half, reducing the burden on the plant’s still-forming root system.

I urge you to use the rooting hormone if you have any.

When the threat of frost has gone in the spring, start cuttings of perennials and annuals that bloom in the fall. Cuttings for perennials that bloom in the spring should be created in the fall and kept under cloches (a glass jar would do) throughout the winter. The plant benefits significantly from experiencing a cold season in its natural environment, as it strengthens the root system. Particularly true with roses.

Roots stems, and tubers.

Some bulbs, such as lilies, develop a scaly growth pattern once planted. Each root-bearing scale can be used to propagate a new plant.

Onions can be sliced and diced vertically. Scooping is a technique used to expose the layers of a hyacinth bulb; to do so, one cuts off the bulb’s roots and removes the center area just underneath the roots. The light bulb should be inverted and partially submerged in a tray of moist sand. Don’t forget to put the tray somewhere cool and dark. After 12-14 weeks, little bulbs will emerge from the top of the main bulb. When planting a bulb, make sure the bulblets are at ground level. The plant should be allowed to complete its vegetative stage. You can take the bulbs apart in the fall by lifting them up.

Keep at least one healthy “eye” (the center of the tuber) on each piece.

When: After the plants have gone dormant in the fall.

Deflation and stools

The dropping process entails covering most of the plant stems with compost or high-quality soil and waiting for the stems to send out their roots. It’s possible to divide the plants and start new ones. Heathers and rhododendrons benefit from this method.

Stooling requires a large mound of soil to be built up around the base of the plant so that the stems can send out roots. Some plants that benefit from this technique include lilacs, willows, and dogwoods.

When: springtime for dropping and stooling, fall for dividing and cutting.

Remember that several techniques may be used equally on the same plant.

If you want to know more about plant reproduction, check out these materials:

Alan Toogood’s Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques is a must-have for aspiring gardeners.

Steven Bradley’s “Propagation Basics: Tools, Techniques, and Timing”

Lewis Hill’s book, “Secrets of Plant Propagation,” will teach you how to grow your plants from seed.

Read also: