Planting root cuttings into a tray

Five methods of plant propagation

Propagate your own plants easily and cheaply, with the help of tips in our expert guide.

For most of us, plants are the most important part of our gardens and what we spend the majority of our garden budget on. It makes sense, then, to save money by propagating our own plants – and it’s just as easy to make a dozen plants as it is to make one.

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Propagation is cheap, low-tech and easy.

Propagation is cheap, low-tech and easy. Here are five basic propagation techniques that every gardener should know.


1

Seeds

Sowing seeds into a seed tray
Sowing seeds into a seed tray

The biggest benefit of growing from seed is that you can produce lots of plants with ease – especially if you save seed. Some can be sown directly into the ground, while others require little more than pots or seed trays of compost to germinate.


2

Layers and suckers

Pegging a strawberry runner down to the ground to promote rooting
Pegging a strawberry runner down to the ground to promote rooting

Pendulous shrubs and trees can root when stems make contact with soil, or produce ‘suckers’ from their roots. Strawberry plants make ‘runners’ that root readily to produce new plants. To try with woody plants, bend pliable stems and secure in soil until roots emerge.


3

Division

Dividing an established perennial plant with two large garden forks
Dividing an established perennial plant with two large garden forks

Dividing plants is a great way of propagating perennials. Established plants tend to be more tolerant of upheaval and splitting plants is not as time-critical as other methods. Because you’re dealing with chunks of established plants and selecting vigorous growth, you’re likely to make robust plants with little aftercare required.


4

Stem cuttings

Taking a stem cutting with a knife
Taking a stem cutting with a knife

Often described as more advanced, stem cuttings are a quick and easy form of propagation. Once cut, the stem piece begins developing all the hormones it needs to create a new, independent plant. All you have to do is provide encouragement at the right times.


5

Root cuttings

Planting cuttings of root into a tray
Planting root cuttings into a modular tray
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If you’ve ever attempted to move an oriental poppy or acanthus then you will know that any trace of root left behind has the ability and energy to regenerate. Gardeners can easily exploit the same phenomenon by digging up roots and replanting where wanted.