Skip to main content
Know How, Know More

Learn to Propagate Your Plants at From the Ground Up on March 9

Most of us gardeners are itching to get gardening this time of year, which is why Extension offers lots of great programming in the winter to get gardeners excited and inspired! Next up on our gardening calendar is our new From the Ground Up program coming up at Allerton Park and Retreat Center on March 9.

Join University of Illinois Extension for a morning of engaging horticulture sessions for gardeners of all ages and levels. Connect with area gardeners, learn from experts and go home with research-based information you can trust and ideas that will get you excited about getting your hands dirty this spring!

One of the topics I'll be presenting that Saturday is called "Pass It On, Propagate Your Plants." We'll be using the really cool greenhouse at Allerton as a space to learn how to propagate a variety of different plants. Here's a little background information on propagation to get you started!

The term Propagation refers to any method of producing new plants from existing plants. Plants can be propagated from seed or by using pieces of existing plants (vegetative propagation).

There are various methods of vegetative propagation, including cuttings, layering, and division and we'll take a look at all of these. Vegetative methods will produce an exact duplicate of the parent plant in most cases. Some plants can be propagated using any of several methods, while others are best propagated using a single method.

Starting your own plants can be an entertaining and educational experience, and is an inexpensive way to get more plants for yourself or to share. It can also be used to rejuvenate or multiply plants that might be hard to replace or that have sentimental value or unique characteristics.

Propagation Methods

Some flowering plants will produce seed. These can be planted to produce new plants, but the plants may not be the same as the old plant, and the plants will take longer to reach maturity. Plants that produce clumps with multiple stems, such as ferns and peace lilies, can be divided.


Remove the plant from its pot and separate by pulling or cutting apart, making sure each piece contains a stem and roots. Repot in separate containers. Some plants naturally produce small plantlets at the base of the mother plant or at the end of runners. After making sure that roots have developed, these can be removed from the parent plant and repotted. Some houseplants will root easily in water, but this tends to produce weak roots that often do poorly when transplanted into soil.

One other methods of propagating plants are by taking cuttings.


A cutting is any piece (leaf, stem or root) removed from an existing plant and used to start a new plant. For all methods, start by filling a container with moistened medium. There are many variations - a few are discussed below. Depending on the variety, conditions, and technique used, the rooting process may take several weeks.

Stem tip cutting: This is the most common method and can be used on almost all plants. Remove top 3-6" of stem, cutting at an angle just below a node (raised area where leaf emerges). Remove all lower leaves keeping 2-3 stem tip leaves, dip in rooting hormone if desired, and insert into rooting medium about 1-2", making sure at least one node is below the surface. Gently press rooting medium around cutting and mist lightly. Cover with plastic bag - new cuttings do not have a root system so moisture must be absorbed through the top. Remove or loosen bag temporarily if excess moisture accumulates. Do not allow to dry out. Place in bright, indirect light. Transplant to permanent container when roots are about 1" long.

Whole leaf or leaf/petiole cutting: Remove leaf only or leaf with petiole (stalk) and insert in rooting medium. Proceed as with stem tip cutting. Leaf petiole is the most common method of propagating African violets, while whole leaf cuttings can be used for jade plant, sedums, and some cacti. Leaves of cacti and other succulent plants should be allowed to dry for several days before placing in rooting medium to prevent rotting from excess moisture.

Get some hands-on experience trying out these propagation techniques at:

From the Ground Up
Saturday, March 98am-noon

Allerton Park & Retreat Center
515 Old Timber Road Monticello, IL

Register for From the Ground Up here: