Plant Propagation


Everything you need to know about plant propagation

In general, propagation means reproduction an organism through either natural or unnatural processes. With respect to plants, propagation can be described as an easy and quite affordable way of getting new plants from the plants you have already cultivated.

There are two ways of plant propagation widely used nowadays: sprouts from germinating seedlings or cloning. Though these ways seem to be quite different, they actually need similar equipment.

Plant propagation by germinating seeds

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We would like to start with the easiest way to propagate, through germinating seeds. The best and the most efficient way of seeds germination is Wet Paper Towel Method. At the initial step, you do not need to have any specific equipment, only saran wrap, a paper towel, a dining plate and seeds themselves.

Step 1

You need to take a piece of a paper towel and wet it with warm water. The towel should not be very wet – just enough moisture in order not to drown the seeds. In order to make sure that the paper is wet enough is to squeeze it a little bit in order to remove extra water. You can do it several times until the towel is not dripping anymore.

Step 2

Place your wet towel on a dining plate and lay the seeds in a row on one-half of the paper. The main rule he that you should remember at this stage is that the seeds should face the same direction.

Step 3

You should fold the other half of the towel over the seeds and then press it by gently covering each seed with a paper by creating a kind of cocoon. Then use another wet towel by adding with the help of it a single drop of water on each seed.

Step 4

Use saran wrap for covering the plate and keeping it moist. Then place it in a dark place with the temperature of 75-80 degrees.

Only 48 hours waiting, and you will see the first results: little taproots coming out of the seeds. In case you notice that there are any seeds that have not popped yet, it is recommended to leave them for a longer time. If even after 3-4 days they still have not produced any taproots, then it is better to throw them out.

The next essential step is seeding transplantation. At this stage, you will need special additional equipment, such as Accel-A-Root 50 Cell Starter tray for example. Before transplanting your seeds, make sure that they all are pre-moistened enough. For making a hole in the grounds for each seed, use a toothpick that will allow you to dig narrow and deep holes.

By performing transplantation make sure that you are placing each seed in cells gently without snapping or bending them. When all seeds are transplanted place the cell trays into a propagation tray. For increasing humidity add some water and then cover the tray with the dome top. For better growth of your seeds do not forget to place them under bright lights.

There are two options of how you can do this, and the first one is to use full spectrum grow light. Those are well suited for new and very young plants by providing bright light without an extreme heat. The only one disadvantage is that they occupy too much space. The second option is LED grow light bulb, such as Taotronics bulb. In contrast to fluorescent lights, this type of light requires less wattage and is cooler. However, bulbs are not so effective than larger light panels. Be sure to have enough light for your new plants.

Photo by cristina.sanvito

Plant propagation is by cloning

The second method of propagation is cloning. Though cloning sounds as something impossible or very complicated, in reality, it is a natural process for plants that they have been doing for thousands of years by themselves. It is quite easy to learn how to clone plants.

When you cut a leaf from your original plant, you receive not just a simple cutting, but a combination of cells that are called callus. If it is provided with a proper care and treatment, it will grow, produce new cells and become a normal plant after some time.

After getting a cutting from a plant, do not forget to put it in water. Then before transplanting cuttings into a propagation tray, you should make a 45-degree angle cut. It is a very useful trick because such angle exposes more of the branch’s mass and thus increases your cloning success rate. If you would like to maximize your chances of success, you can also use a special cloning gel by dipping the end of the cutting in it. However, remember that you should not dip your cuttings in the original tray since it might cause contamination of cloning gel.

After dipping your cuttings that should be around one-inch place your clones in a most starting tray and cover it with a special dome. The main difference between germinating and cloning is that the later requires more humidity. Therefore, do not forget to add a cup of water to the bottom of your tray or mist the dome regularly.

It is very important to check your clones daily in order to make sure that there are no signs of mildew or mold. If they appear you should remove infected clones immediately by preventing the spread of infection to other plants.

The dome should have on the top and on the sides, which will help you to control and regulate the humidity level during the whole process of cloning. After 3-4 days it is recommended to open the side vents half way for lowering the humidity level and also to dry out the environment a little bit. After 7 days you should open up the vents completely. At this stage, it might be also useful to add some water to keep the plants and soil moist.

The first roots of new plants will appear after 7-8 days, while by the 10th days most of cutting should have roots already. You should know that depending on the strain of your plants, in some cases it might take 2-3 weeks until roots appear.

Watch video about propagating plants

What are advantages of plant cloning?

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You might wonder why many people prefer cloning and what are the advantages of this method? The first and the main advantage is that cloning allows propagating plants with the same genetics. Most people like this because they the plants that they clone have a set of essential characteristics including easiness to grow, fast growing, a strong immune system against various diseases, molds, and pests, and etc.

In contrast to cloning germinating seedlings is good for experiments and developing plants with new genetics. However, new seedlings might get unexpected traits that will be unfavorable in your garden. For example, new plants can be sensitive to diseases, be hermaphrodites or male plants and have complicated growing genetics.

The biggest disadvantage of the germinating method is that it is impossible to discover and notice these unfavorable features in plants until they are mature, which might take you months of growing. As a result, you might simply waste your time, energy and money.

However, in general, it is possible to say that both ways of propagation are useful, beneficial and are widely applied all over the world by showing very good results. The only thing that you need to do is to decide, which method is more appropriate for you.

Read more about plant propagation, and discover other tips and tricks for home gardener from If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

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