Cuttings: An Easy Way To Multiply Your Plants

If you’ve been curious about propagating and taking cuttings but don’t know where to start, this post will help. This is a basic overview to help you multiply your garden.

An assortment of different cuttings to propagate.

Taking cuttings is one of the easiest things you can do to start making more plants. There really isn’t much to it, but depending on the plant, you may go about it differently. In this post, you will learn how to prep your plants for cuttings, how to choose a cutting, and how to make cuttings.

Prepping Your Plants For Cuttings

Starting with a healthy plant is key. When prepping a plant to be cut, be sure that your plant is healthy, pest free, and mature enough to take cuttings. You don’t want to stress your plant any more so if it isn’t in good condition. The maturity of the plant will affect the survival rate of your cuttings. If a plant is too young and underdeveloped, the cuttings are more likely to die.

I suggest to take cuttings during the growing season, Spring till late Fall. This will ensure that your plant is actively growing and can withstand cuttings being taken away. During this time, you should also be fertilizing your plant on a regular basis, to ensure the overall health and growth of your plant.

If your plant isn’t in good condition and is possibly dying, taking a cutting may be the only chance you have to save what’s left of the plant. This is the only time I would suggest taking a cutting from a plant that isn’t in ideal condition. Be sure when cutting from a sick or rotting plant, that your cuttings are clean and not brown or mushy. Any rot remaining in a cutting may overcome it later.

How To Choose & Make A Cutting

This really varies from plant to plant. Some plants have different ways of multiplying and propagating from another. When making cuttings, remember to sanitize any cutting tools before making a cut into your plant. This will greatly reduce the risk of infection for your cutting and it’s parent plant.

Here are some common plants and ways to take cuttings.

Vining Plants are fairly easy to take cuttings from. They tend to be voracious growers that benefit from being pruned. When pruned, they tend to grow more full and bushy, rather than long and leggy. Great if you want a full looking plant!

To take cuttings from vining plants, be sure that the cuttings you are taking have mature leaves on them. Remember, you are taking a cutting that will have to focus its energy into creating roots. It will be very difficult for your cutting to do this if it’s leaves are underdeveloped. Having mature leaves will help the cutting do two things. It can focus it’s energy into creating roots instead of leaves, and create energy from the sun to develop roots.

When cutting Pothos and vining Philodendrons, cuttings can either be short or long, as long as it has a root node. For Hoyas, I suggest making a cutting from a vine that has at least two sets of leaves. Make sure that the stem you intend to root, has root nodes along it as well. If you can, I suggest making the stem you intend on rooting to be at least two inches long. This will give it more surface area for roots to grow and help anchor it into the pot you want to grow it in.

Bromeliads are beautiful tropical plants found very commonly in local plant shops and garden centers. Pineapples and Air Plants are very common forms of bromeliads. After blooming, the mother plant starts to die, but not before creating pups or offsets, that can later be separated and planted.

When the offset is at least 2/3 the size of the parent plant, it is now time to separate them. Simply take the parent plant and carefully loosen the soil around its roots. You can then find the base of the pup and carefully break it away from the parent plant. Try to take as much root as you can from the parent plant when separating. You can now repot the pup, water it, and place it in an area where it will get tons of bright indirect light. If you would like to see how this is done, click here.

Aside from Bromeliads, other plants also create pups or offsets. Agave, Aloe, and Spider Plants are some examples of this. Just like bromeliads, I recommend waiting for the offsets to be of decent size, before separating them from the parent plant.

Cacti are some of my favorites to propagate. You can propagate cacti from cuttings or paddles. If your cactus has paddles that grow from the base, you can carefully twist and pull these paddles off. Be sure to make the breakaway as clean as possible. If you are taking paddles, be sure that the paddle is of a decent size so that it has a better chance of survival. You wouldn’t want to take a paddle that is still developing.

If you are taking a cutting, be sure to clean off your knife or sheers first with rubbing alcohol. This will greatly reduce the chance of infection in your plant. Try to make your cut clean and even all the way through. Your cutting should look healthy and hydrated. Mushy, brown, or shriveled cuttings won’t do.

Once you have your paddles or cuttings separated, it is now time for them to dry and callous over. It is very important that you do this! Rooting cacti immediately will most likely cause your cutting to rot. Waiting for the cut to callous over will reduce the chances of this happening. Once it has calloused over, you can pot up your cutting in it’s appropriate substrate. Within a few weeks you should have new roots developing.

Succulents can create new plants through their leaves or by cuttings. Choose leaves that look healthy and hydrated. Shriveled leaves won’t work. When taking leaves to propagate, make sure you break away their leaves evenly. You want it to be a clean break. Once you have enough leaves to propagate with, let them callous over before watering. Place the leaves over some soil and mist frequently. Within a few weeks you should see some roots and a new plant starting to grow from the leaf.

Similar to Hoya cuttings, I recommend making the rooting stem at least 2″ long. Remove excess leaves from the rooting stem and save the leaves to propagate. Let cuttings callous over before potting up in appropriate substrate.

Things To Consider

Propagation has no guarantees. I suggest taking as many cuttings as you can. Unfortunately, not every single cutting will take to rooting. At times they rot or just shrivel up. These things can’t be helped.

Aside from the plants listed above, you can make cuttings from all sorts of plants. If you would like to boost the chances of them rooting, you can also purchase rooting hormone. You can purchase this online, in your local garden center, or plant nursery. If using rooting hormone, apply a small amount to the cut portion of your cutting before placing in soil.

Ways To Propagate

Aside from potting up your cuttings straight into soil, you can also propagate them in water, or by using a propagation box.

Water propagation works really well for all different types of plants. I would just suggest taking a lot of cuttings for this type of propagation. Some of the cuttings will get mushy and will rot from the water. Aside from this, I like this method cause I can see the roots growing and can see right away if things are going wrong. If you would like to try this method, you can see it in my post here.

Using a propagation box is my favorite method! You can place a lot of cuttings in the box at once and the success rate for roots is really high this way. If you would like to see how this method is done, you can check out my post here.

If you need to save on space you can use jars or ziplock bags. They are similar to propagation boxes but on a more compact scale.


Little Groundwork is an online oasis documenting the everyday lessons and changes involved with cultivating a greener environment. Rooted in a love for all things nature and design, Little Groundwork hopes to spark that same passion into the hearts of many. We hope that you follow along with us and together we can learn, grow, and create a greener environment.

Leave a Reply