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Plant Propagation 101

Plant Propagation

The art and process of creating new plants. Two popular techniques for doing so are accomplished through cuttings (either from the root, leaf, or stem) and divisions.

A cutting is a small section of branch wood, taken from a desirable plant that you wish to replicate. A stem cutting will produce new roots, and a root cutting will produce new stems. Some plants can be grown from leaf pieces too, called leaf cuttings, which produce both stems and roots. Once you have a cutting, you simply plant it in the soil. A division is another technique for propagating plants. This is when a plant is broken up into two or more parts, where both the root and crown of each part is kept intact. These parts are then planted in the soil.

Propagating by Cuttings

1. Take a 6- to 8-inch cutting of a healthy, supple branch from a tree or shrub with good quality fruit, making sure it includes at least two nodes (the enlarged bumps where the leaves emerge from the stem). The cutting should be about ¼ - to ⅜ inches in diameter unless noted otherwise.

2. Stick the lower half of the cutting into a rooting hormone, making sure there is at least one node above ground and one below. If you do this during the dormant season. You can buy rooting medium at most garden or hardware stores, or you can make your own (see below). If you’re storing them to trade or not quite ready to plant, just make sure they’re dry, then store them in a ziploc bag in the fridge for up to a year.

3. Once the cuttings begin to grow from the top, it is a sign that a substantial root system has developed below and it is safe to transplant the rooted cutting.

Propagating by Division

1. Use a sharp spade or shovel to dig up a main clump of roots and crown from a shrub or groundcover.

2. Use the sharp spade or shovel to cut across and dig into the clump, dividing it into two or more clumps

3. Then, replant these clumps immediately. If you can't replant immediately, keep the clump moist and away from direct sunlight.

Make Rooting Hormone

Tools & Materials - willow branches, pruners, rock or hammer, small container with lid, jar with lid


1. Take some ½” cuttings from a willow tree.

2. Smash the branches with a rock or hammer, and cut them into 1” long pieces.

3. Get a small container with a lid, then poke a small hole in the lid.

4. Put branches in the container. Pour boiling water on top. 1 part branches to 2 parts water.

5. Put the lid on, and watch the steam escape. Let it sit overnight.

6. The next day, filter the liquid into a jar. Viola! Homemade root starter solution.

This resource was adapted from:

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