How to propagate dracaena

Propagating Dracaena | 2 ways to propagate your Dracaena plant

Houseplants in the Dracaena genus, like the endlessly popular Dracaena marginata, Dracaena ‘lemon-lime’ and ‘lucky bamboo’ are appreciated by houseplant lovers for their non-fussy nature and decorative looks. But did you know these plants aren’t just easy to care for? They are also super easy to propagate!

Is your Dracaena is getting leggy? Do you want to gift a piece to a friend or family member so they can grow a new plant? Keep reading for everything you need to know about propagating your Dracaena plant!

Beheading | Propagating Dracaena from top cuttings

One of the easiest way to propagate your Dracaena plant involves simply cutting off the top.

  • Snip it just below the leaf line and be sure to include at least one node: roots grow from these round, white bumps on the stem.
  • Then, either plant your cutting in some soil or place it in a nice vase filled with fresh water. I prefer the latter method, as it allows me to see how the cutting is doing and whether it has rooted yet.
  • Place the container in a warmish spot and wait!
  • Roots and new growth should appear pretty quickly during the warm Summer months, while things can take a little longer during Wintertime.
  • If you’re water-propagating, try moving the cutting to soil once the roots are about 1 inch/2.5 cm. Or don’t; the plant won’t mind and fresh green leaves look great in a pretty vase. I especially like the look of multiple thin-necked vases such as these filled with plant cuttings.
  • If you’re worried removing the top of your Dracaena will result in a sad, headless plant, don’t worry. One or multiple nodes close to the top of the original should start sprouting new leaves soon. It will be back to looking its best in no time.

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Propagating Dracaena from stem cuttings

If getting just one new plant isn’t enough for you, don’t worry. You can turn a single Dracaena into as many as you like using the stem cutting method! This is also the method many nurseries use to easily create more plants.

As with the top cutting method you snip off the top of the plant and propagate that as you usually would. However, you also remove as many stem sections as you like (all should be at least around 8 inches/20cm and contain a few nodes). Be sure to leave a good section of the original plant so that can grow back as well.

Place all your stem sections in water or soil and be patient, as it will take a little longer before these turn into proper plants. Roots should start appearing at the bottom nodes, while any nodes at the top will start swelling and producing new leaf shoots. Voila! New plants.

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If you have any more questions about propagating Dracaena or want to share your own experiences with this versatile plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

This plant is commonly known as Madagascar Dragon Tree, Dragon Tree or Red Edge Dracaena. Dracaena marginatas are extremely popular houseplants and rightfully so. They’re spiky, a bit edgy, fit in beautifully with modern, Asian or bohemian decor but sometimes they get a bit out of hand.

I inherited a Dracaena marginata “Tricolor” from the previous homeowner which needed to be pruned back before I transplant and bring it in for the winter. I’m sharing with you a few things to keep in mind when rooting the cuttings.

Dracaena Marginata Propagation

Dracaena marginata cuttings are very easy to propagate in water.

The long stems, which are called canes, reach and twist towards the light. Their normal growth habit is for the canes to become very long over time.

As this happens, they shed the lower leaves which turn yellow then brown and fall off. If the plant isn’t getting enough light then the canes become thin and leggy and the foliage has a droop to it. You can prune those canes down and take cuttings because Dracaena marginatas respond very well to this.

Tips on Rooting Dracaena Marginata Cuttings

If you’ve taken long cuttings, eventually you’ll see quite a few yellow leaves will appear at the base of the foliage head. No need to worry, this is normal. Just remove those leaves & recut the stems if necessary.

These are some of my Dracaena marginata cuttings before I cleaned off the yellow leaves & recut them the canes.

Watering

Make sure you change the water every 5-7 days.

You don’t water bacteria to build up in the water.

Fill your vase or jar 1/4 to 1/3 with water. You don’t want the level any higher than that because the roots will emerge too high up on the stem. Also, the stems will be more prone to rot if the vessel is completely full.

Bright Light

Keep your Dracaena marginata cuttings in bright light.

Low light isn’t good and neither is the direct hot sun. In that case, your cuttings will burn.

If you need to recut the canes, then make sure your pruners are clean & sharp. I always take my cuttings at an angle because that’s the way I was taught – it lessens the chance of infection.

Roots started emerging from the bottom of the canes after 10 days or so.

The Dracaena marginata canes can be twisted, straight, long or short. The growers train them into some pretty crazy shapes and forms. I had a candelabra form (which I gave to a friend before I moved) which you can see here. I usually cut my taller Dracaena marginata back every 2 years or so and you probably will need to do so to.

And you’ll see that roots emerge from the base of the canes in no time. You can enjoy the cuttings in a beautiful vessel as I’m enjoying my “cutting arrangements” in my kitchen and dining room. When it comes time to transplant the mother plant, I’ll put a couple of these cuttings at the base. The other cuttings are all going to a friend. I’m spreading the Dracanea marginata love!

Happy indoor gardening,

This is my sweet kitty Riley. Oscar, his tuxedo wearing companion, can be seen in the lead photo.

A Quick Guide to Corn Houseplant Propagation By Cane Cuttings

In order to propagate a corn plant from stem cuttings, you require a matured cane, sharp knife, and potting supplies. Detailed instructions for collecting the cane cuttings, rooting them, and transplanting the new corn plants are highlighted in this article.

The corn plant is a preferred choice of houseplant for many hobbyists. Known by different names like Cornstalk Dracaena, Striped Dracaena, and Compact Dracaena, it is scientifically called Dracaena fragrans. Some people confuse it with the cultivated corn, its scientific name being Zea mays. You can identify this foliage plant from the sword-like, green or variegated leaves, and bare stem. What makes a corn plant so popular amongst gardeners is its easy maintenance, both indoors and outdoors. Also, you can obtain several copies of it, once the mother plant has matured.

Vegetative Propagation of a Corn Plant

Corn shares the same genus (Dracaena) with lucky bamboo. And similar to lucky bamboo, multiple corn plants can be produced from a single shoot with the help of stem cuttings. When kept in moist soil and favorable conditions, these vegetative cuttings root easily. As for propagating a corn plant vegetatively from leaves and roots, the above technique is not applicable. In fact, a few plants can be propagated from leaves and roots. For new growths to take place, the vegetative parts should have sufficient meristematic cells, which are not there in the leaves and roots of a corn plant.

Propagating a Corn Houseplant by Cane Cuttings

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One word of caution is, this houseplant is poisonous and you should handle it safely. It is best to split the mother plant or stock plant in spring and summer. If you already own a matured corn plant, you can begin with the propagation process. Or else, purchase a healthy starter plant from your local nursery. If you prefer the one with variegated leaves, select the D. fragrans ‘Massangeana’ cultivar. Its leaves have yellow stripes in the center, all along their length. Take proper care of the plant and wait till it becomes fully mature for obtaining its stem cuttings. Follow the step-by-step guidelines mentioned below, and you can surely propagate corn plants on your own.

Step #1: Keep the Supplies Ready

First of all, gather the materials required for your project. You will need a sharp knife, potting mixture (sand or peat moss), starter pots (2½ inch in diameter), and rooting hormone (for inducing quick development of roots). Fill the starter pots with the potting medium or peat moss till three-fourth of the pot height, and water them. Excess water will be drained off by the time you are ready to use them.

Step #2: Select a Healthy Stem

Hoping that your Cornstalk Dracaena is matured and has multiple stalks, you can choose a healthy, bare cane for propagation. Ensure that the cane you have finalized for cutting is free of diseases and scars. A simple way is to examine the small buds that are present in between leaf scars. If these dormant buds are intact, new shoots will develop, and vice versa.

Step #3: Take the Cane Cuttings

While proceeding for this step, you need to take care of three things – the length of the cuttings, making smooth cuts, and ensuring minimal injury to the mother plant. Keeping these things in mind, cut the cane about 6 inches above the soil. Then, make smaller sections (about 3-4 inches in length) out of the trunk, ensuring that each part has a dormant bud in it. Place the cane cuttings properly to avoid unnecessary damage.

Step #4: Prepare the Cuttings for Rooting

In case, you are using a rooting hormone, follow the usage directions strictly. You may require to dip the lower section of the stem cuttings (about 1½ inch) into the rooting hormone before introducing them in the individual pots. Another approach is planting the cane cuttings directly without dipping in the hormone. For this, insert the cuttings into the potting medium with the buds facing upward.

Step #5: Care for the Cane Cuttings

Besides upright planting of the cuttings in the potting mix, you can place them horizontally too. The only requirement is upward pointing of the buds. Whichever method you have adopted, place the pots in areas where they receive indirect sunlight for 4 hours or more every day. Keep the soil moist to induce formation of roots and shoots. Also, you can cover the cuttings with plastic bags to maintain warm temperature.

Step #6: Transplant the New Plants

After about 4 weeks, you will notice new shoots developing from the dormant bud, i.e., area in between the leaf scars. By this time, new roots are also formed at the base of the cuttings. This is the perfect time for transplantation. For the purpose, choose pots of appropriate size, and fill them with well-drained, commercial potting mixture. Introduce the new plants carefully, so that the young shoots and roots are not damaged.

Caring for a corn plant is very easy, and it grows well even with least maintenance. If the plant is native to your region and you maintain it outdoors, it will most likely produce fragrant flowers after some years. But, those maintained indoors rarely flower. To control the height of indoor corn plants, you can trim them at any time of the year.

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In the dark depths of winter, it can seem like the joy of sowing seeds and taking cuttings is a long way away. Yet there are two beautiful species you can propagate right now, that will give you instant houseplants in exchange for almost zero effort and which cost you essentially nothing: dracaenas and cordylines.

Both Dracaena marginata and Cordyline fruticosa are exotic houseplants that originate in the world’s tropical zones. Their vibrant foliage colour and elegant architectural forms have made them hugely popular in both the houseplant trade and floristry.

Both also happen to be among the easiest of all plants to take cuttings from. Indeed, as I discovered when working in flower shops when at university, the cut stems of both species (often up to 45cm long) will readily root even in the water of a vase.

While most florist greens fade to a brown mush that is destined for the bin in a week or two, these species will happily start to grow away, giving you plants for free. In fact, commercial growers of these houseplants will essentially be taking the exact same cut tips that are sold in floristry, and rooting them in compost for a just a few weeks in heated glasshouses before selling them at up to a quadruple mark-up.

For home growers, this makes buying them as cut stems always the cheapest way to get hold of these two species. They are so quick and easy to root from large stem sections, and they will look almost identical, giving you instant impact.

To get started, simply pick up a few of these stems, often sold as “ti plant tips” or “cordyline tips”, at your local florist. If they don’t happen to have them in stock, do ask, as most good florists will be able to order them in if given a week’s notice.

To root them, either pop them in a clean vase of water in a bright, warm room (my preferred option) or dip the cut end in rooting powder and plant them up in a small pot of well-drained cutting compost. The advantage, in my experience, of the vase technique is you won’t need to keep watering the newly planted cuttings to prevent them from drying out.

As long as you regularly change the water to prevent the build-up of bacteria or fungal rots, the success rate is extremely high. Using a clear glass vase will mean you can monitor the cleanliness of the water (and the root growth) easily.

Once roots are 5-10cm long the new plants can be potted up in any ordinary compost and grown on just like any houseplant. Ten years after graduating I still have some of mine from my uni days, adding a splash of year-round colour to my living room.

Email James at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Botanygeek

Home Propagation of Houseplants

Reviewed by Mary Ann Gowdy
Teaching Assistant Professor
Division of Plant Sciences

Plant pieces cut from a parent plant and rooted to form new plants are called “cuttings.” Use of cuttings is a simple, inexpensive way to multiply houseplants and garden plants.

Many plants can be propagated by cuttings. Each new plant will have the characteristics and genetic makeup of its parent plant. Table 1 lists some plants that can be easily propagated at home and indicates the type of cutting or other suitable propagation technique to use for each.

Types of cuttings

Cuttings may be taken from stems, leaves or roots. Herbaceous stem cuttings, sometimes called slips, are commonly used. Popular plants such as African violet and begonia are propagated from leaf cuttings. A few plants may be propagated by cutting their long stems into segments, and others can be propagated by simple division.

Herbaceous stem cuttings
The type of stem cutting suitable for propagating most houseplants is the herbaceous cutting, which is made from tender growth of terminal shoots. Herbaceous cuttings are commonly used to propagate geranium, chrysanthemum or coleus (Figure 1). Cuttings taken from a rubber plant, dracaena or croton usually contain more woody tissue and are often called softwood cuttings. Techniques for taking and rooting these cuttings are the same, however.

Figure 1. Five-inch coleus stem tip cutting that contains a terminal growing point.

Leaf cuttings
Leaf cuttings include only a leaf blade or the blade and a portion of the petiole (Figures 2 and 3). Leaf cuttings of plants such as African violet should not be rooted with long petioles. Trim the petiole to no more than 1/2 inch long.

If a small portion of the main plant stem containing a bud is included with the petiole, the cutting is known as a leaf-bud cutting. Use of leaf-bud cuttings is limited. Hydrangea and rubber plants, however, are sometimes started with leaf-bud cuttings.

Figures 2 and 3
Violet leaf cutting without the petiole and cutting with a 1/2-inch petiole.

Plants from stem sections
A few houseplants may be propagated by cutting 1- to 2-inch sections from the stem (Figure 4). These segments, without leaves, are placed in the rooting medium in a horizontal position and covered slightly.

Figure 4
Stem section cutting with a prominent axillary bud.

How to take cuttings

Take cuttings from vigorous, healthy shoots. Most cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches long. Cut just below a node (where a leaf is attached) with a sharp, clean knife.

Remove leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Use a rooting hormone on all except easy-to-root plants such as coleus. Rooting compounds are available from many garden supply stores, mail-order seed and nursery companies, and mass merchandisers. Carefully use the hormone as directed. Keep cuttings clean. Don’t place cuttings in dirty containers or on dirty tables.

Containers

A 6- to 8-inch plastic pot filled with quality potting soil can be used to root several cuttings. Place the pot in a large plastic bag, and seal the bag to maintain high levels of humidity (Figure 5). Do not place the bag in direct sunlight.

Figure 5
Large zip-type plastic bag secured at base of pot with a rubber band.

Rooting materials

Clean, coarse, construction-grade sand is suitable for rooting many cuttings; however, it needs to be heat-sanitized prior to use. It is also excellent mixed with an equal volume of peat moss.

Vermiculite is a lightweight material used for rooting. It holds water well and promotes root growth.

Perlite is another excellent propagation material. It is lightweight and provides good aeration for rooting. Perlite makes one of the best rooting materials when mixed with an equal volume of peat moss.

Don’t use field soil as a rooting medium. It packs too tightly when wet and is prone to develop diseases.

Compressed peat pellets are available for seeding and can also be used for rooting cuttings. The pellets expand rapidly when soaked in water. Place them in plastic bags after soaking and draining; insert a single cutting in each pellet and close the bag at the top. No additional watering is necessary until the cutting is rooted and the bag opened.

Cleanliness
Pots, medium and equipment used for rooting cuttings must be clean and sterile. Pots should be washed thoroughly using a household cleaner and disinfectant. Tools should also be washed in such a solution or dipped in alcohol. Any rooting medium that is not known to be sterile can be moistened and heated thoroughly in an oven at 150 to 200 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes. Peat moss, vermiculite and perlite don’t need sterilization when new.

Inserting the cutting
Promptly place the prepared cutting in the rooting material. Stick the base of the cutting 1 or 2 inches deep, depending on the length of the cutting. Firm the medium around the base and settle the medium by watering.

Care of cuttings

Never allow the propagation medium to dry out during the rooting process.

Because the cuttings have no root system, high humidity must be maintained at all times. Clear plastic is inexpensive and easy to use for covering the cuttings. A plastic bag slipped over a pot is simple and airtight. Support the plastic with wire loops or stakes if necessary to keep it from resting on the leaves.

Never place a plastic-covered container in direct sunlight. Heat will build up under the plastic and burn the foliage.

Care of rooted cuttings

The time needed for cuttings to form roots differs greatly among plants. Check the cuttings occasionally by carefully removing a few from the medium. When a cutting has roots at least 1 inch long, transplant it into a separate container.

The move from high humidity and moist rooting conditions to lower humidity and drier soil is the most critical step in successfully growing new plants from cuttings. Closely monitor the young plants the first few weeks after the move.

A good potting medium designed for houseplants is suitable for potting newly rooted cuttings and can be found at local garden centers or mass merchandisers.

After a cutting has become established in the medium, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer according to directions. Then fertilize at monthly intervals. When the cutting is growing vigorously, normally in spring and summer, fertilizer may be applied every two weeks. During the winter, fertilize once a month.

Division

Division is the easiest method of multiplying plants that naturally produce offsets or basal shoots. These new shoots usually have a few roots and can be separated and planted individually (Figure 6).

Figure 6
Spider plant offset from the parent plant.

Layering

Layering is a method of rooting a new plant while the stem is still attached to the parent plant. This easy propagation method can be done in the home without special equipment or structures. The four layering techniques — simple, tip, air and compound — are discussed in detail in MU Extension publication G6970, Home Propagation of Garden and Landscape Plants.

Air layering

  • Remove all leaves several inches on each side of the point where the layer is to be made.
  • From the center of the layering area, make a slanting cut upward an inch or more in length and about halfway through the branch. A preferred method of wounding is removing a strip of bark 1/2 to 1 inch wide around the branch (see Figure 7).
  • Apply a rooting hormone to the wounded surface or cut.
  • If a cut has been made, don’t let it heal. Instead, insert a small piece of wood such as a toothpick in the cut to keep the wound open.
  • Take a handful of unmilled sphagnum moss that has been soaked in water and squeeze out excess water. Pack the moist sphagnum around the branch to cover the wound.
  • Cover the ball of moist moss with clear plastic wrap; an 8- by 10-inch sheet is generally large enough. Wrap the plastic around the moss so that it overlaps and will not allow the moss to dry out. Clear plastic permits you to see when roots have developed.
  • Secure the plastic at each end with electrical tape, string, plant ties or other convenient fasteners. It will usually take a month or more for roots to appear.

Compound layering
Compound layering is suitable for long vines that may be alternately covered and exposed. Wounds should be made on the lower portion of each curve. For more information, see MU Extension publication G6970, Home Propagation of Garden and Landscape Plants.

After rooting, the vine can be cut into segments, each containing its own roots.

Care after rooting
Root systems of newly rooted layers are small in relation to the canopy. After the new plants are severed from the parent plant and potted, the humidity must be kept high. Enclose the new plants in a loose, clear plastic bag for the first week or until they are well established and do not wilt excessively.

Propagation techniques for selected houseplants

Table 1. Propagation techniques for selected houseplants.

Plant Propagation technique
Herbaceous cutting Leaf cutting Stem section Air layer Compound layer Division
African violet

Cut petioles 1/2 inch long. Place potted leaf cuttings in plastic bag.
Arrowhead (Nepthytis)

Cuttings may be rooted in water.
Asparagus fern

Keep young divisions constantly moist.
Begonia

May be started from leaf sections placed on surface of rooting medium. Cleanliness important.
Bromeliads

Use well-drained medium high in organic matter. Orchid growing mix useful.
Cast iron plant

Provide good light after division.
Chinese evergreen

May be rooted or grown in water.
Christmas cactus

Keep moist, but avoid overwatering during rooting.
Chrysanthemum

Cuttings from new shoots in early spring often make better garden plants than divisions.
Coleus

Root in water. Easiest of all.
Croton

Slow to root. Cover with plastic. Give good light.
Diffenbachia

Subject to rot during rooting. Do not overwater. Keep clean.
Dracaena

Stem sections relatively slow.
English ivy

Easy to root. Sometimes slow starting.
Episcia

Related to African violet. Tip cuttings grow faster than leaf cuttings.
Ferns

Keep constantly moist after division.
Fuschia

Root easily. Prefers a cool temperature after rooting.
Gardenia

Vigorous new shoots root most easily in midsummer.
Geranium

Keep foliage dry during rooting.
Gloxinia

May be grown from leaf cuttings.
Hibiscus

Rooting hormones speed root production. Give bright light.
Hydrangea

Tend to root best in spring or early summer.
Impatiens

Very easy. May be rooted in water.
Jade plant

Keep fairly dry during rooting. Must have well-drained medium, e.g., coarse sand.
Kalanchoe

Use vegetative shoots, not flowering shoots for best rooting.
Lantana

Old, woody stems do not root as easily as more tender terminal shoots.
Maidenhair fern

Keep divisions constantly moist.
Norfolk Island pine

Very slow. Use only terminal cutting.
Orchid

Many types. Provide high humidity and well-drained organic medium.
Peperomia

Root easily. Avoid excess moisture during rooting.
Philodendron

May be rooted in water. Spring and early summer give quickest rooting.
Poinsettia

Propagate in late August for home. Cleanliness important.
Pothos

Will root in water. Spring and early summer propagation usually most successful.
Rubber plant

Keep humidity high during rooting, or use air layer.
Schefflera

Needs high humidity and bright light. Slow rooting.
Shrimp plant

Easy to root. Give good light.
Snake plant

Place leaf sections in same position they grew. Will not root upside down.
Spider plant

Very easy to root runners. Pot directly in soil mixture.
Wandering jew

Very easy. May be rooted in water.
Wax plant (Hoya)

Use leafy shoots, not long thin vines.
Zebra plant

Use nonflowering shoots. Give high humidity and good light.

Audio files

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This rubber plant cutting was a terminal cutting, which means it was taken with a functional growing tip. It was rooted in clean sand.

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This rooted leaf and petiole of a peperomia has a new plant developing from the petiole.

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Begonia leaves can produce new plants not only from the petiole, but also from cuts made in the leaf veins.

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Some tropical plants such as sansevieria can be propagated using leaf pieces. This piece has roots developing at the base.

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With stem cuttings, plants such as the dracaena shown can produce both roots and new shoots.

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Propagating many tropical houseplants is easily done with good potting soil and a plastic bag.

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The bark on this rubber plant is being removed in a cylinder around the stem. This makes it unable to move sugars down the stem, but water and nutrients can still move upward.

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Sphagnum moss will keep the damaged area moist and protect new roots as they form.

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Properly wrapping the damaged area will retain the necessary moisture.

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For this completed air layering procedure, some leaves were removed to provide enough room for the operation.

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The sphagnum moss has been removed to show the beginning of root formation at the top of the wrapped area. After you see roots, you may remove the cutting from the parent plant and pot it.

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