|Themes > Science > Botanical Sciences > Plant Reproduction and Development > Plant Propagation Methods > Plant Propagation Methods|
..Introduction to Plant Propagation
..Plant Propagation Methods
..Propagating New Plants
This topic is so vast and techniques are so plant specific, it will be impossible to even cover the tip of the iceberg on this page. However, we hope to provide you with some useful information to introduce you to the many ways that you as a home gardener can reproduce plants for yourself and also become better aware of the many techniques that are used in the nursery trade to propagate plants for your use and enjoyment. A lot of extra reading on this subject is necessary to fully understand all the complexities and aspects of plant propagation. We will only cover some simple methods that practices that the amateur can use, just as we do in every year to enhance our landscape and plant collection. Please feel free to contact us is you have further questions on this topic and we will try to help you further.
Plant Propagation Methods
Sexual Propagation: This term refers to reproduction of new plants from viable seed or spores produced by the plants natural reproductive system. This method is used mostly for annual and perennial plants which don't require a long growth periods, plants that cannot be reproduced by other means, or for plants that are reproduced through hybridization. This page will not cover sexual propagation.
Asexual Propagation: This term refers to the reproduction of new plants from other means other than seed. These methods produce genetically identical plants or clones. Methods of asexual propagation include the following:
Commonly Used Methods: (Can by
done by the amateur gardener)
Specialized Methods (used mostly
in commercial nursery trade):
By far, the most common and amateur friendly methods of plant propagation are tip/stem cuttings and simple division. These techniques apply to the vast majority of plants grown for landscaping or personal enjoyment. I will discuss the basics of these techniques.
Propagation by cuttings:Stem tip cuttings: This involves the following steps:
Cut a terminal section from an un-branched stem of approximately 6 inch length just below the leaf axil. (length varies with plant size). Remove the lower 2/3rds of the leaves and any flower buds Dip the base in a rooting hormone such as Roottone or Hormodin Placing the lower 1/3rd of the cutting into a rooting medium (coarse sand, perlite, or a very porous peat and sand mixture) Keep the cuttings moist at all times via a sprinkling system or enclosed to maintain a constant moisture level. Periodic aeration is necessary as well. Keep cutting out of direct sunlight or any condition that would produce stress. Tip: I use an old 10 gallon fish aquarium with a glass cover to root cuttings. Check cuttings periodically and carefully to determine extent of rooting Remove cuttings only when fibrous feeder roots are evident Pot cuttings in a loose but organic potting soil and continue to stimulate root development with a root stimulating fertilizer until pot bound. Keep well watered and reduce stress during this period (e.g. place in shaded area)
Please note that the steps above are representative and generic in nature. The type of plant, the length of time needed to root, the strength of the hormone needed, and the proper time of year to take cuttings are very plant specific. As a general rule, herbaceous plants root quickly and easily whereas woody plants take much longer and require stronger levels of rooting hormone. The time of year is much more critical for propagating woody plants. Refer to reference books or talk with people who have had experience with propagating certain plants for more specific advice. Plants are best rooted in either herbaceous, semi-hardwood, or hardwood conditions depending on the specific plant.
Plant Division: This technique is simple and used most frequently with mounding, clumping, or suckering plants such as most perennials, ornamental grasses, and many tropicals. A hardwood, plant can be divided this way if multi-trunk and each trunk has produced it's own roots. All that is involved is a slice with a sharp knife through the base to divide the plant into smaller bases each with it's own set of established roots. Suckering and stoloniferous plants produce new plants from underground roots and offshoots at the base. These new plants can be easily divided by severing them from the mother plant and reestablishing them on their own. A root promoting fertilizer always helps the re-establishment process.
Grafting: Many cultivars
of plants can only be reproduced by grafting methods but this requires proper
timing, expertise that comes from practicing the various techniques, and the
right tools and plant stocks to graft to. If you want a challenge, give grafting
a try but consult a good reference book or a person experienced with grafting
the particular type of plant you have in mind. The scion or severed tip section
of the desired plant must be of the same genera as the rootstock which it will
be grafted to. It is better to use the same species if possible in the case of
cultivars. For a pictorial tutorial on various grafting methods, go
Hibiscus Grafting Page.
Personal challenge and satisfaction of starting a new plant from scratch.
Self insurance policy - to have a backup plant for a rare selection or plant that would be difficult to replace.
Save space for over wintering - keep only a small rooted cutting rather than a large plant for next year.
Have extra plants of unusual varieties for trading with others.
Plant Sales - a good way to make some extra money to support the purchase of new plants to try.
It's the only way to get a desired plant when not available from local commercial sources.
Plant cultivars can only be reproduced identically by this method.