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3 Easy Ways To Propagate Your Plants

Expand your plant family using the foliage you already have.
By Jennifer Knoch
3 Easy Ways To Propagate Your Plants (Illustration: Sumit Gill)

Want to go from a few houseplants to full greenhouse glory? No garden centre shopping spree required. Plant propagation is easy: All you need is a knife, potting soil, empty pots and some patience. Cloning your plants is also essential to keeping them the size and shape you want. “Plants are constantly growing and changing, and individual leaves have a limited lifespan,” says Darryl Cheng, author of The New Plant Parent and creator of the Instagram account House Plant Journal. “If you understand propagation, you can keep your plants looking presentable.” A leggy Pothos or a Seussian succulent isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re a bad plant parent—it might just be time for a reset. “You’re writing a new chapter for the plant’s life,” says Cheng, who shared some of his propagation strategies to multiply your indoor greenery.


  • A sharp knife or scissors
  • A vase or jar of water (for stem cuttings)
  • Pots for your new plants
  • Fresh potting soil (use the same type as the parent plant—if you’re unsure, ask your nursery expert for help)


In most cases, bright, indirect light—as opposed to direct sun—is best for transplants.

How to propagate plants from stem cuttings

3 Easy Ways To Propagate Your Plants (Illustration: Sumit Gill)

Step 1: Find a node 

Cut just below the node (or bulge) where the leaf meets the main vine. A stem can yield multiple cuttings—each just needs a bit of stem, with a node and a leaf.

Step 2: Place cuttings in water


Place in water until they grow at least one centimetre of roots (it can take several weeks, so be patient!). You can leave cuttings longer. “Water allows you to procrastinate,” says Cheng.

Step 3: Plant the rooted cuttings

Once cuttings have grown roots, place them in potting soil or add to an existing pot for a fuller look. Water well. “The soil needs to be moist for the cuttings to take hold.”

Best for: Monstera, tradescantia, philodendron, pothos

How to propagate plants from pups or plantlets

3 Easy Ways To Propagate Your Plants (Illustration: Sumit Gill)

Step 1: Look out for minis

When you see a mini version of your plant—that’s a pup! When it’s at least one-third of its parent’s size, you can repot it. Some pups grow out of the soil, others off a long stem.


Step 2: Isolate the pup

Sever the connection between the pup and parent with a sharp knife. (You may have to unpot the plant to do this.) For pups in soil, bring along as many roots as possible.

Step 3: Plant the pup

Plant in its own pot and water well. (If the pup doesn’t have roots yet, plant it in the soil, and roots will grow.) Use a similar ratio of pot-to-plant as the parent.

Best for: Aloe, pilea, snake plant, spider plant

How to propagate plants using root division

3 Easy Ways To Propagate Your Plants (Illustration: Sumit Gill)

Step 1: Know when it's time


Consider dividing a healthy plant that has outgrown its current container. The bigger your starting plant is, the more clones you can make.

Step 2: Divide the plant

Remove the plant from the pot. Cut the root ball in half with a sharp knife. Tease apart the roots to help them get settled in the new soil. Cut off any rotting ones.

Step 3: Plant the halves

Replant each half of the root ball in its own pot and water well. “It’ll look like a plant cut in half,” says Cheng. “But in time, you’ll have two full plants.”


Best for: Fern, snake plant, peace lily

How to reset your succulent

An illlustration on pink background that shows how to propagate succulents.

Once-adorable succulent getting gangly? Get it back to its former dainty self. “Once it gets to a certain size, no matter how good your light is, it will get taller,” says Cheng. He recommends reeling it back in with some quick surgery.

Step 1: Cut off the rosette

Leave an inch of stem and remove any scraggly bottom leaves from your cutting. Compost the original plant (now a stem with just a few leaves) or keep tending it—it will eventually grow a new rosette.

Step 2: Plant the rosette


Plant it in a new pot of fast-draining soil or cactus mix (same as the parent) and water well. Or, lay healthy leaves on top of the soil—they will spawn a new plant (that said, substantial growth will take time).


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