Many people have discovered how easy it can be to propagate new houseplants.

In nature, plants propagate themselves in two ways – sexually (by seed) and vegetatively (using a part of the original plant, such as an offset or plantlet). Since most houseplants are herbaceous perennials, shrubs or trees, raising them from seed is not practical. It takes too long and the offspring may not have the same characteristics as the parent plant.

woman holding plant she split

Vegetative propagation results in a new plant that is genetically identical to the parent plant (a clone). This is possible because many plants can regenerate missing parts. However, not all plants have equal abilities. Some plants will produce roots from a leaf cutting, but fail to produce new stems and leaves.

Plants can be reproduced by cuttings, division, layering, and by using specialized plant structures such as runners and offsets. Many plants can be propagated by more than one of these methods.



    Nearly any container can be used for propagating plants as long as it is clean and free of disease. A clear, one-gallon food storage bag works well, too.

    Use sharp cutting tools such as a pocket-knife, razor blade or clippers. They should be sterilized before and between each cut by dipping in denatured alcohol.

    A suitable rooting media will provide support and enough water and oxygen to the root zone. It is very important to begin with clean, disease-free media. Coarse sand, peat moss, perlite vermiculite or a combination of these materials works well.

    Although some plants such as ivy and philodendron will root easily in water, we do not recommend doing this. Roots that develop in water are often weak and do not adapt as easily to potting mix as those that were formed in rooting media.

    Rooting hormones are available from garden supply stores. These are chemical substances that increase the rooting percentage of many plants. A rooting hormone tends to shorten the time needed for rooting and often increases the quality and quantity of roots that form. Many houseplants root so easily on their own that rooting hormones are not important. For more difficult-to-root species, rooting hormones would be helpful. The powdered form is good because it is diluted with talc and ready for use. Follow the directions on the package.

    Enclosing the propagation container in plastic, clear glass or using intermittent misting will help to increase the surrounding humidity.

      woman dividing plants
      Nearly any container can be used for propagating plants as long as it is clean and free of disease.
      Tips for Success
      • Start with healthy plants.
      • Use clean and sharp cutting tools.
      • Use disease-free rooting media that provides the proper water holding capacity and air spaces.
      • Place in bright, indirect light.
      • Increase surrounding humidity.
      • Do not allow leaves to touch each other.
      • Keep rooting media evenly moist, but not soggy wet.
      • If cuttings are enclosed, ventilate as needed.
      • Keep rooting media warm (75-80°F).
      • Lower air temperatures help keep humidity high.
      • Don't wait too long to transplant into individual pots.
      Propagation Procedure List

      Key to which procedure to use

      • A – stem
      • B – leaf cuttings
      • C – leaf-bud cuttings
      • D – division
      • E – specialized structures
      • F – air layering

      Common Name, Genus and Species, Type of Propagation to Use

      • African VioletSaintpaulia spp.: A,B,D
      • Aloe, Medicine PlantAloe spp.: D
      • Aluminum Plant, Artillery PlantPilea spp.: A
      • Anthurium LilyAnthurium andraeanum album: A,D
      • AraliaPolyscias spp.: A
      • ArdissiaArdisia crispa: A
      • Arrowhead, Nephytis Syngonium spp.: A,D
      • Asparagus FernAsparagus sprengeri: D
      • Baby TearsHelxine soleirolii: A
      • Boston FernNephrolepis exaltata: A,D,E
      • Bromeliads, Vase Plant Earth StarBromeliads: D,E
      • CactusCacti: A
      • Cast Iron PlantAspidistra elatior: D
      • Chinese EvergreenAglaonema spp.: A,D
      • Christmas CactusSchlumbergera: A
      • ColeusColleus blumei: A
      • CrotonCodiaeum Variegatum: A
      • Clover PlantOxalis spp.: D
      • Crown of Thorns, Poinsettia, Pencil TreeEuphorbia spp.: A
      • Devils Ivy, PothosScindapsus spp.: A,C
      • Dracaena, Dragon Tree, Corn Plant, Ribbon Plant, Dracaena spp.: A,F
      • DumbcaneDieffenbachia spp.: A,F
      • English IvyHedera spp.: A,C
      • False AraliaDizygotheca elegantissima: A,F
      • Flame VioletEpisica spp.: A,B
      • Flowering MapleAbutilon x hybridum: A
      • GardeniaGardenia jasminoides: A
      • GeraniumPelargonium spp.: A
      • Goldfish PlantColumnea spp.: A
      • Grape IvyCissus rhombifolia: A,C
      • Jade PlantCrassula argentea: A,B,C
      • KalanchoeKalachoe spp.: A,D
      • Lipstick VineAeschynanthus javanicus: A
      • OrchidOrchid: A,D
      • Orchid CactusEpiphyllum spp.: B
      • Peach Lily, White FlagSpathiphyllum spp.: D
      • Prayer PlantMaranta spp.: D,E
      • Piggy-back PlantTolmiea menziesii: B,E
      • PhilodendronPhilodendron spp.: A,F
      • Rex BegoniaBegonia (rhizomatus): A,B,D
      • Rubber PlantFicus elastica: A,F
      • ScheffleraBrassica spp.: A,C,F
      • ScrewpinePandanus veitchii: A,D
      • SedumSedum spp.: A,B,C
      • SerrisaSerrisa Foetida: A
      • Snake PlantSansevieria spp.: B,D
      • Spider PlantChlorophytum spp.: D,E
      • Split leaf PhilodendronMonstera deliciosa: A
      • Staghorn FernPlatycerium spp.: D,E
      • Strawberry BegoniaSaxifraga sarmentosa: E
      • Swedish IvyPlectranthus australis: A,C
      • Table Fern​​​​​​​, Pteris spp.: D
      • Three-Men-In-A-BoatRhoeo spp.: A,D
      • Tuberous BegoniaBegonia (tuberous): A,E
      • Velvet PlantGynura aurantica: A,C
      • Waffle PlantHemigraphis colorata: A
      • Wandering Jew, Inch PlantTradescantia spp.: A
      • Wandering Jew, Inch PlantZebrina spp.: A
      • Wax BegoniaBegonia (Filxous): A,C
      • Wax PlantHoya carnosa: A,C
      • Weeping FigFicus benjamina: A
      • Zebra PlantAphelandra squarrosa: A,F