How to Propagate Plants: 4 Ways to be a Pro

Propagating plants is a cost-effective and rewarding way to expand your garden. Instead of purchasing new plants, you can create new ones from your existing garden. In this article, we will explore four methods of vegetative propagation: division, cuttings, grafting, and layering. Each method has its unique advantages and requirements, and mastering these techniques will help you become a more skilled gardener.


Division is one of the simplest and most common methods of propagation. It involves splitting a mature plant into several smaller sections, each with its own roots and shoots. This method is particularly useful for perennials, ground covers, and plants with clumping growth habits, such as geraniums and chives.

Steps for Division:

  1. Tools Needed: A digging fork, shovel, or spade.
  2. Timing: Best done in early spring before new growth starts.
  3. Process:
  • Dig up the entire plant.
  • Use your hands, a knife, or a shovel to separate the clump into smaller sections.
  • Replant the divisions immediately in their new locations.


Taking cuttings is a widely used method, especially for houseplants, herbs, and shrubs. Cuttings can be taken from various parts of the plant, including stems, roots, and leaves.

Steps for Stem Cuttings:

  1. Tools Needed: Pruners, a container with moist paper towel, cell trays with pre-moistened media, and rooting hormone (optional).
  2. Timing: Depends on the plant; hardwood cuttings are best taken in fall or winter, while softwood cuttings are taken in spring or summer.
  3. Process:
  • Select healthy, disease-free shoots.
  • Cut a 4-6 inch segment with at least four nodes.
  • Remove excess leaves to reduce moisture loss.
  •  Dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
  • Insert the cutting into the prepared media and water it.
  • Place the tray in a propagation station with a humidity dome and bottom heat.


Grafting involves joining parts from two different plants so that they grow as one. This method is commonly used for fruit trees to preserve desirable traits.

Steps for Grafting:

  1. Tools Needed: A sharp knife and grafting tape.
  2. Timing: Best done when plants are dormant, usually in late winter or early spring.
  3. Process:
  • Whip and Tongue Grafting:
    • Make interlocking cuts on both the scion (upper part) and rootstock (lower part).
    • Join the cuts and secure with grafting tape.
  • Chip Budding:
    • Remove a bud from the scion and make a corresponding cut on the rootstock.
    • Insert the bud and wrap it with grafting tape.
    • After a month, the bud should fuse with the rootstock.


Layering is an easy and low-maintenance method where stems are encouraged to form roots while still attached to the parent plant. Once rooted, the new plant can be separated.

Steps for Layering:

  1. Tools Needed: A rock or brick to pin down the stem.
  2. Timing: Can be done at almost any time, as it is less fussy than other methods.
  3. Process:
  • Select a healthy, flexible stem.
  • Bend the stem to touch the soil and pin it down with a rock or brick.
  • Optionally, wound the stem slightly to encourage root formation.
  • After a few months, roots should form at the contact point.
  • Sever the rooted section from the parent plant and replant it.

Vegetative propagation is a practical and efficient way to expand your garden using plants you already have. By mastering these four methods—division, cuttings, grafting, and layering—you can multiply your plants and enhance your gardening skills. Whether you want to fill bare spots in your garden or share plants with friends, these techniques will help you achieve your gardening goals.