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A guide to propagate house plants from a simple cutting for a frugal way of getting more and more free house plants to decorate your home!
In lockdown, it seems that we all turned to different things to cope with the insanity of COVID-19 and the way the world was changing.
Some people baked loaf on loaf of sourdough bread and banana bread. Some people knitted things to tie around lamp posts (I never really quite understood that one..?!). Some people started running, and others turned into couch potatoes.
And some of us found solace in house plants. Lots of house plants.
Ever since I moved into my own flat back in November, I knew that filling the space with lots of greenery was my goal aesthetic. If I do say so myself, I have well and truly smashed that goal.
At last count, I had about 25 plants – and during lockdown, that only increased as I discovered the wonder that is propagation.
What is plant propagation?
Plant propagation is the process of growing new plants from cuttings, and other plant parts of existing plants.
Rather than buying new plants all the time, you can instead take a cutting of your current plants (or ask a friend for a little snip of theirs), and propagate the cutting until you have your own baby version of that plant – for free!
How to propagate house plants
Plant propagating is actually so easy that I’m kicking myself for not happening across this amazing process earlier!
I’ve now propagated my basil plant, two cuttings from my enormous Monstera plant that was given to me by a friend who no longer had space for it, an ivy plant, a ZZ plant, and a leaf from my Chinese money plant that fell off and I thought, let’s see what happens!
All you need to do is take a cutting from your plant and place the cutting in a jar of water (or get a plant propagation set which looks great!) with the root end completely covered. The only tricky part is knowing where to take your cutting from – with my ZZ plant and Chinese money plant, I simply took a cutting from the stem and successfully propagated both (although you do need to be patient – my ZZ especially was a really slow process!).
With other plants, for example, the Monstera plant, you need to cut below an aerial root, which is where the new roots will sprout from. The photo below shows that more clearly, but I’d also recommend checking out this video from Crazy Plant Guy.
The benefits of plant propagation are pretty self-explanatory:
- It’s so much cheaper than buying fully grown plants at nurseries every time you want to add a new plant to your home. You can simply multiply the existing plants you have, or trade cuttings with friends that are equally plant obsessed (i.e. a huge percentage of the population post-lock down!!).
- Propagating plants actually makes a really beautiful feature for your home before you’ve re-potted your plant. I now constantly have plant cuttings in my plant propagation station (pictured below) because of how lovely it looks!
- There’s something extremely satisfying about successfully making a brand new plant from something as simple as a leaf cutting from a huge plant. It’s like a science experiment – and the excitement of getting your first root never gets old!
If you’re looking for a big, luscious plant (like a bird of paradise or a huge monstera, for example) to fill an empty space in your home immediately, propagating a plant probably isn’t your best bet, as it will take a good few years before your cutting has blossomed into a huge house plant!
Additionally, you need to remember to change the water of your cuttings and keep your jars topped up so the roots aren’t exposed – plant propagation is no harder than taking care of any other house plant, though.
Where to get cuttings To Propagate House Plants
OK, so we know how to propagate plants for unlimited, free house plants (muhahaha!!)…so now, where to get the cuttings?
- From Your Existing House Plants: If you’re a #PlantParent already, you’ve got your own nursery to get to work on already! Pick your favourite plants, do a quick internet search on where to take your cutting from, and get propagating. These also make really thoughtful frugal gifts for friends and family.
- Trade With Friends and Family: Most people have at least one plant in their home, and you’ll probably discover that more people than you thought have hopped on the houseplant train to bring a little of the outdoors inside after being cooped up for so many months! Offer to trade plant cuttings with friends to get some cool new (free) plants for your home!
- Take a Cutting When You’re Out and About: Now, I’m not advocating this (and personally, I’m far too scared of authority to ever try it!), but there is a select community within the plant propagation space who openly admit to taking plant cuttings when out and about…from gardens to garden centres! Whether this is within your moral limits or not is down to you, I’m just letting you know other people do it 👀