If you have always wanted to learn plant propagation to grow more plants from the ones you have, we have tutorials for starting from seed, cuttings, roots, layering, and division. Growing indoors or outdoors, you can open up a whole new world of gardening.
For a beginner project also try this method for growing avocado from seed without toothpicks.
Getting Started With Plant Propagation
What is propagation? As a verb, it simply means to “to cause (an organism) to multiply by any process of natural reproduction from the parent stock.” And that’s what we do as gardeners, whether it’s intentional or not. We grow plants and from there we get more plants.
When you’re starting out as a beginner gardener without any experience with growing flowers or vegetables, it can seem overwhelming to make the leap from buying ready-to-plant transplants (also called bedding plants) from a plant nursery to starting some of your own plants from seed. Or cuttings. Or some other method.
But once you do, you will have so many more plant options. There are way more varieties of seeds in seed catalogs than you’ll ever find at a plant shop. And who doesn’t love free plants creating from cuttings or some other cloning process?
The added bonus is, the more you propagate, the deeper understanding you will gain of how things grow. Experience is a great teacher, in life and in the garden.
Have a look at the ideas below and dig in to whatever interests you. The only difference between a successful grower and a discouraged one is persistence. Try. And try again. You’ve got this.
Plant Propagation Tips & Tutorials
To grow anything from seed, the number one tip is to read your seed packet if you have one. They provide a wealth of information derived from lots of testing to find best practices.
The tutorials below give tips for growing seeds you may acquire from flowers in your garden or fruits you eat.
Apple Seed | This one is just for fun unless you don’t mind ending up with a unique fruit tree different than the parent. Before you sow this type of seed, you will be “stratifying” it, which exposing the seed to a controlled chilling period for a few months to prepare it for germination.
Lots of perennial cold climate seeds benefit from this so it’s a good (easy) skill to learn. Everything is explained in the tutorial.
Lemons & Oranges & More
Citrus Seeds | This is another one that is fun to try. Take the seeds from any citrus fruits including lemon, orange, tangerine, lime, or grapefuit, and grow them into trees.
Like many fruits grown from seed, the fruit will not be “true” to the parent so just do it if you don’t care what you end up with. You’ll still get a fruit tree and it can grow indoors or outdoors depending on your climate.
Delphinium Seeds | The least expensive way to grow delphiniums is to start them from seeds. After a lot of experimenting, I found a method that gives very good germination rates. Follow the tips to get more from your seeds.
Mango Pits | That big pit inside each mango fruit contains a giant seed. And that giant seed can grow into a tree. It’s unlikely you’ll get fruit though, so start with a grafted tree if that’s the goal. Otherwise, this is a fun and interesting one to try and they make unique houseplants.
Milkweed Seeds | It’s ideal when milkweed seeds self-sow, but the next best thing is to germinate them in batches to establish a good patch in the garden. This is another seed that need cold temperatures to trigger germination, so plan to sow in fall or use your fridge to assist them.
Peach & Plum
Peach or Plum Pits | Just about any pit or stone from fruits like peaches and plums can be sprouted into trees. Whether it ever fruits is questionable, but it’s another fun one to experiment with.
Avocado | If you eat avocados, you have to try this. Not because you’ll grow fruit—you probably won’t—but because it’s such an interesting plant to sprout. And, this method does not require any fussy toothpicks.
Roots, Tubers, & Rhizomes
Asparagus Crowns (Roots) | If you want to grow asparagus and get this perennial vegetable established quickly, grow from crowns. The word “crowns” is used to be mean established roots. Get your patch started and you will have fresh asparagus for years to come. Plus, they are beautiful plants even if you don’t eat them!
Dahlia Tubers | Dahlias grow from tubers and as the plant grows, the tubers multiply. Most of us in cold climates have to dig up dahlias in fall to store them over the winter. This is the time to take stock and divide the tubers for more plants.
Ginger Roots (Rhizomes) | The ginger root you buy from a grocery store can be grown into a houseplant or outdoor plant that multiplies to grow more ginger. Or, just enjoy it for the greenery.
Sprouted Onions | You know when onions in storage start sprouting green tops? You can use the green parts to grow a new onion if the roots are still intact. The tutorial shows how it’s done.
Get yourself some good, fine plant snippers and start propagating.
Chrysanthemums (mums) | One big hint about which flowering plants are likely to root from cuttings is to check the stem. If the stem is solid, not hollow, it is likely a good candidate for propagation.
Clematis | Growing from cuttings is often the fastest way to establish new plants. There are several ways to root clematis vines. The method shown in the tutorial can garner several new plants from one stem.
Geranium (Pelargonium) | Growing geraniums from cuttings can quickly turn into a sport. Once you see how easy it is, the challenge is to see how many years you can keep the same plant stock going through repeated propagation and overwintering the plants indoors. These plants—regarded as annuals in cold climates are actually tender perennials—can last for many years.
Honeysuckle | You can root honeysuckle cuttings from spring to fall. I always start about a dozen of them because I can never tell how well each batch will do. There are a number of invasive honeysuckles so check that you have a variety that plays nice.
Lavender | You can grow lavender from seed, cuttings, and layering. Cuttings are the most practical way to establish new plants fairly quickly.
Tomato Cuttings or Suckers | Many of us start tomatoes from seed but a neat way to get more plants is to root stem cuttings during the growing season. These can be side shoots or suckers. Start them in water and once the roots are showing, plant in containers of potting mix or outdoors in the ground if there is still time for the plant to flower and fruit. I take mine indoors for the winter for the fun of seeing them fruit when it’s snowing outside.
Sweet Potato Vine
Sweet Potato Vine | This has to be the easiest plant to propagate from cuttings. It sits there begging for you to try this. Snip a stem of sweet potato vine and place the cutting in water. Roots will grow from the nodes—those places on the stem where leaves normally appear. Plant the rooted stem in potting mix and you’ve got a whole new vine.
Zinnia | These are one of the easiest flowering annuals to root. I know I keep saying everything is easy, but there are a lot of plants that do root easily.
Follow the tutorial to know exactly where to place your cut. with the cutting in water it will have lots of roots within two weeks.
If you have been gardening a while you may have encountered layering in the wild. One example is raspberry bushes. When they get really long stems, sometimes those stems bend to the ground. With constant contact on moist soil, roots may form from the contact point. With the roots established, you can cut the stem from the main plant and grow it elsewhere on its own.
When we “layer” we simply help the plant make that initial contact with the soil.
Lilac | There are several ways to propagate lilac. If you have an existing bush, consider the layering method. This involves taking a bendable, young branch and pinning it to the ground. Over time, roots will grow. Eventually, you separate it from the mother and grow a new one.
This is one of the most under-utilized ways to get more plants: divide the ones you have. Once a flowering perennial like echinacea or Rudbeckia is growing in a nice big clump, you can dig out chunks with roots intact and transplant them. The remaining plant will gain more root space (to expand all over again) and you’ve got free, mature plants.
Peonies | The easiest and most efficient way to propagate peonies is to divide the roots into two or more plants. The trick is to start with a well-established plant because each root section needs its own “eyes” to produce flowers. This is explained further in the article.
Raspberry Divisions | If you’ve got one big raspberry bush, you have plenty! Divide the roots to create a new plant from each cane.
Strawberries | Strawberries grow shoots known as “runners” that can become new plants. Either pin the runner to the ground or position each one in its own little pot and keep it watered while roots form. When rooted, clip it from the mother and you’ve got a new strawberry plant.
Kitchen Propagation Handbook
Regrow Food Scraps
by Melissa J. Will
Learn how to grow houseplants from avocado, oranges, lemons, ginger, and more using leftover pits, seeds, and roots.
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There you grow!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛