What is plant propagation?

Five methods of plant propagation

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.

Advertisement 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.



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.


Layers and suckers

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.



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.


Stem cuttings

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.


Root cuttings

Planting root cuttings into a modular tray Advertisement

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.

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In this Room I share with you my fascination with plant reproductive biology and its application to horticulture and related disciplines.

I begin by dispelling the widely held oversimplification that “plants grow from seeds” – indeed many of them do, but quite a few have evolved the capacity for asexual (clonal) reproduction. Even before the origins of agriculture, about 12,000 years ago, mankind has been observing wild plants performing feats of asexual reproduction.

From this increasingly sophisticated understanding of the natural history of cloning, early agriculturists domesticated a number of fruit, nut and other food crops and eventually a host of ornamentals as well. The Room includes hands-on demonstrations of clonal propagation by layering, cuttings, grafting and micropropagation.

This video is part 2 of 7 in the Natural and Human History of Plant Cloning series.

More About

  • reproduction
  • biology
  • horticulture
  • agriculture

Propagation Techniques

The following brief introduction on how to propagate native plants has been condensed from the Container Tree Nursery Manual, Volume 6 (USDA Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 674, May 1999).

Introduction – Plant propagation is both a science and an art. The science of plant propagation requires a knowledge of plant physiology, nursery cultural practices, and characteristics of the particular plant that you want to grow. The art of plant propagation cannot be taught in a book or classroom, however, because it consists of specific technical skills that must be acquired through innate ability or experience and often requires a certain “feel.” Good plant pagators are said to have a “green thumb.”

Planning – Successful nursery management begins with planning. Crop planning is one of the most important, yet often neglected, aspects of seedling culture. One big decision is to determine which propagation method will be most effective and economical for the crop species. Both the biology of the species and the objectives of the outplanting project must be considered. If it is possible to propagate a plant either by seed or vegetatively, then the amount of genetic variability that is desired in the crop must be considered.

Figure 1. Plants propagated from seed look different from their parents and each other because they contain a mixture of genetic characteristics of their parents. Vegetative propagation, on the other hand, produces exact duplicates of the parent plants.

Sexual reproduction results in a mixture of genetic characteristics in the offspring, so each plant will appear slightly different from its parents and each other. Because maintenance of genetic diversity is so important in ecosystem management and restoration projects, seed propagation is encouraged whenever possible. It is easier to capture and preserve biodiversity with seeds than with vegetative propagation (Figure 1).

Availability of propagation material, time constraints, and economics must be considered. Many native plants do not produce good seed crops each year, so it may be impossible to obtain enough seeds. This is especially true for emergency projects, such as fire restoration, when crops must be grown in a very short time. As for economics, seed propagation is almost always less expensive than vegetative propagation, which involves more hand labor and often requires special equipment and structures.

Type of nursery -Native plants can be produced in either container nurseries or bareroot nurseries. Although some natives are produced bareroot, most are grown in containers because they offer more flexibility in scheduling, and can be grown in a shorter period. In particular, the size and shape of native plant seeds limits how they can be grown. Most commercial conifers have relatively small, smooth seeds that can be easily sown in bareroot seedbeds. Most other natives, however, have seeds that are very small, irregularly-shaped, or have appendages that make mechanized sowing difficult if not impossible. All these characteristics make container propagation much more attractive.

Seed propagation -Native plants can be grown several ways from seeds. Direct seeding is the traditional method and consists of placing seeds directly into the growth container or seedbed and allowing them to germinate in place (Figure 2). Seedlings either can be allowed to grow to shippable size or transplanted into larger containers or into beds in a bareroot nursery. A second option is to sow seeds into shallow trays, keep them moist, and then hand-sow the germinating seeds (“germinants”) into containers. A third technique consists of sowing seeds into shallow trays and allowing them to germinate and the seedlings to emerge. The young “emergents” are then transplanted into containers to finish their development. Sowing germinants or transplanting emergents must be done carefully to reduce the possibility of root deformation.

Figure 2. The variable sizes, shapes, and appendages of most native plants seeds make hand sowing in containers the most practical propagation method.

Vegetative propagation – Although they vary considerably in technique, all vegetative propagation methods are a form of asexual reproduction. The objective is to make multiple “copies” of an individual plant or select group of plants with similar genetic composition (Figure 1). Species that root easily can be propagated with rooted cuttings (Figure 3). This process involves collecting stem sections, treating the lower part with rooting hormones, and then either inserting (“striking”) them into trays filled with growing medium until they form roots (“pre-rooting”) or “direct striking” them into the growth container. Another techniques is “layering”, which consists of inserting a section of stem or root that is still attached to the donor (parent) plant into a favorable rooting environment until roots develop. The rooted section is then cut from the parent plant and transplanted into the growth container.

Grafting is a very specialized propagation technique in which shoots or buds from one plant are surgically implanted into another. The newest and most rapidly developing vegetative propagation technique is micropropagation. This involves a series of sterile laboratory techniques in which small sections of plant tissue are chemically stimulated to form multiple shoots and are then rooted. The resultant “explants” are transplanted to growth containers and raised under normal culture.

Figure 3. Rooted cuttings are the most common vegetative propagation method for native plants.

Some species can be propagated either by seeds or vegetatively, and the decision depends on the objective of the outplanting project. Quaking aspen is a good example. Aspen seeds are very small and difficult to handle because they are enclosed in a ball of cottony material. Seeds can be cleaned relatively easily, but are generally sown manually into growth containers because of their small size. If the objective is to retain the physical characteristics of a specific ecotype or clone, however, aspen can be propagated vegetatively from root sprouts, which are rooted and then transplanted to growth containers.

Table of Contents


Rooting Media


Asexual propagation is the best way to maintain some species, particularly an individual that best represents that species. Clones are groups of plants that are identical to their one parent and that can only be propagated asexually. The Bartlett pear (1770) and the Delicious apple (1870) are two examples of clones that have been asexually propagated for many years.

The major methods of asexual propagation are cuttings, layering, division, and budding/grafting. Cuttings involve rooting a severed piece of the parent plant; layering involves rooting a part of the parent and then severing it; and budding and grafting are joining two plant parts from different varieties.

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Rooting Media

The potting soil, or medium in which a plant grows, must be of good quality. It should be porous for root aeration and drainage, but also capable of water and nutrient retention. In order for a plant to form a new root system, it must have a ready moisture supply at the cut surface. Oxygen, of course, is required for all living cells. The coarse-textured media choices often meet these requirements. Most commercially prepared mixes are termed artificial, which means they contain no soil. The basic ingredients of such a mix are sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite, both of which are generally free of diseases, weed seeds, and insects.

Rooting media for asexual propagation should be clean and sterile. Cuttings are not susceptible to damping-off, but they are attacked by other fungi and bacteria which may come along in the medium. Most commercially prepared media are clean when purchased.

The media should be low in fertilizer. Excessive fertility will damage or inhibit new roots. High-quality artificial mixes sometimes contain slow-release fertilizers.

Coarse perlite alone can be used to start some cuttings. This doesn’t hold much water for long, but it is fine for rooting cuttings of cactus-type plants which would ordinarily rot in higher moisture media. Coarse vermiculite alone has excellent water-holding capacity and aeration, but may dry out rapidly via evaporation if not covered in some way. A mix of 50% peat moss and 50% perlite favors good aeration. An equal mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite is also good and favors moisture retention.

Plain water can be used to propagate some cuttings. This is possible and actually works quite well for some species which root easily. It certainly provides the needed moisture, but if the water is not changed on a weekly basis, it will become stagnant, oxygen deficient, and inhibitory to rooting. Furthermore, roots produced in 100% water are different from those produced in solid media; they may undergo greater transplant shock with a greater incidence of death. So, it is not the most desirable methodfor most plants, but certainly feasible.

Rooting Enhancement Conditions
Once you’ve selected the right medium, your first priority is to get roots produced as quickly as possible. The consequences of slow rooting may be death because the cutting must rely on its limited water reserves. Water is required for major chemical reactions in plants which will be shut down in its absence. Even though the exposed cells on the cut surface of the cutting ordinarily transport water throughout the plant, they are not equipped to adequately absorb it from the medium. This can only be done in most plants by roots, and particularly root hairs. Root hairs are tiny, single cell projections from the root ends or tips.

Make sure the medium is moist prior to inserting cuttings. If incompletely moist, then the cut surface may contact a dry pocket and have its own water absorbed away by the medium component. Try to keep both the air and medium temperature warm: 70-75°F. Higher temperatures enhance growth, but excessively high temperatures do not allow for photosynthesis to keep up with food breakdown in normal cell energy use (respiration). You can buy electric heating pads to put beneath containers holding cuttings to maintain a constant temperature.

Get air circulation around the cuttings as much as possible to discourage fungal growth. Place in bright, but not direct light. An east window is fine but a west window is too warm and a south facing window too bright. North is too dim.

One way to provide good environmental conditions for asexual propagation by cuttings is through the use of a mist bed. This system sprays a fine mist of water over the cuttings once every few minutes, and the time is adjustable. It should only be on during the day, as nighttime operation would keep the medium too wet and encourage rotting. Misting inhibits transpiration and forces the plant to conserve water while it forms new roots. If a mist system is unavailable, one can be imitated in a small propagation tray in the home. Choose an appropriate medium, moisten it, and place it in a tray. Place the tray in a perforated or slitted clear plastic bag. This increases the relative humidity and inhibits water loss by the plant and medium, yet allows air circulation. Tug gently at the cuttings after 2-3 weeks to test for rooting and transplant to individual pots when roots resist your tugs. Dig them out, do not pull them out! Different plants require different rooting times, so do not expect them all to root at the same time.

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Many types of plants, both woody and herbaceous, are frequently propagated by cuttings. A cutting is a vegetative plant part which is severed from the parent plant in order to regenerate itself, thereby forming a whole new plant. Take cuttings with a sharp blade to reduce injury to the parent plant. Dip the cutting tool in rubbing alcohol or a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water to prevent transmitting diseases from infected plant parts to healthy ones. Remove flowers and flower buds to allow the cutting to use its energy and stored carbohydrates for root and shoot formation rather than fruit and seed production. With large-leaved cuttings (i.e., Rhododendron) and limited space in the propagation container, trimming up to half the leaf length can improve efficiency, as well as light and air circulation for all the cuttings. To hasten rooting, increase the number of roots, or to obtain uniform rooting (except on soft, fleshy stems), use a rooting hormone, preferably one containing a fungicide. Prevent possible contamination of the entire supply of rooting hormone by putting some hormone in a separate container for dipping cuttings. Discard this hormone after all the cuttings are treated.

Place stem and leaf cuttings in bright, indirect light. Root cuttings can be kept in the dark until new shoots appear.

Stems Cuttings
Numerous plant species are propagated by stem cuttings. Most can be taken throughout summer and fall, but stem cuttings of some woody plants root better if taken in the fall or in the dormant season. Success with herbaceous plants is generally enhanced when done in the spring; these plants are actively growing then, and more apt to root quickly on their own. There are several different types of stem cuttings depending on the part of the stem needed. At least one node (the point on a stem where leaves are attached and buds form) should be below the media surface. Although some plants root at internodes (the space between nodes), others only root at nodal tissue.

Tip cuttings
Detach a 2- to 6-inch piece of stem, including the terminal bud. Make the cut just below a node. Remove lower leaves that would touch or be below the medium. Dip the stem in rooting hormone if desired. Gently tap the end of the cutting to remove excess hormone. Make a hole in the medium with a pencil or pot label, and insert the cutting deeply enough into the media to support itself.

Medial cuttings (also stem-section cuttings)
Make the first cut just above a node, and the second cut just below a node 2 to 6 inches down the stem. Prepare and insert the cutting as you would a tip cutting. Be sure to position right side up. Buds are always above leaves. Make sure the cutting is inserted base down.

Cane cuttings
Cut cane-like stems into sections containing one or two eyes, or nodes. Dust ends with fungicide or activated charcoal. Allow to dry several hours. Lay horizontally with about half of the cutting below the media surface, eye facing upward. Cane cuttings are usually potted when roots and new shoots appear, but new shoots from dracaena and croton are often cut off and rerooted in sand.

Single Eye
The eye refers to the bud which emerges at the axil of the leaf at each node. This is used for plants with alternate leaves when space or stock material are limited. Cut the stem about 1/2 inch above and 1/2 inch below a node. Place the cutting horizontally or vertically in the medium with the node just touching the surface.

Double Eye
This is used for plants with opposite leaves when space or stock material is limited. Cut the stem about 1/2 inch above and 1/2 inch below the same node. Insert the cutting vertically in the medium with the node just touching the surface.

Heel cutting
This method uses stock material with woody stems efficiently. Make a shield-shaped cut about halfway through the wood around a leaf and axial bud. Insert the shield horizontally into the medium so that it is completely covered. Remove any leaf blade but keep a portion of the petiole intact for ease in handling this small cutting.

Leaf Cuttings
Leaf cuttings are used almost exclusively for a few indoor plants. Leaves of most plants will either produce a few roots but no plant, or just decay.

Whole leaf with petiole
Detach the leaf and up to 1 1/2 inches of petiole. Insert the lower end of the petiole into the medium. One or more new plants will form at the base of the petiole. The leaf may be severed from the new plants when they have their own roots, and the petiole can be reused. (Example: African violet).

Whole leaf without petiole
This is used for plants with sessile leaves (no stalk or petiole). Insert the cutting vertically into the medium. A new plant will form from the axillary bud. The leaf may be removed when the new plant has its own roots. (Example: donkey’s tail).

Split vein
Detach a leaf from the stock plant. Slit its veins on the lower leaf surface. Lay the cutting, lower side down, on the medium. New plants will form at each cut. If the leaf tends to curl up, hold it in place by covering the margins with the rooting medium. (Example: Rex begonia).

Leaf sections
This method is frequently used with snake plant and fibrous rooted begonias. Cut begonia leaves into wedges with at least one vein. Lay leaves flat on the medium. A new plant will arise at the vein. Cut snake plant leaves into 2-inch sections. Consistently make the lower cut slanted and the upper cut straight so you can tell which is the top. Insert the cutting vertically. Roots will form fairly soon, and eventually a new plant will appear at the base of the cutting. These and other succulent cuttings will rot if kept too moist. (Note that with variegated snake plant, the new shoot will develop from cells that do not display the variegation.)

Root Cuttings
Root cuttings are usually taken from 2- to 3-year-old plants during their dormant season when they have a large carbohydrate supply. Root cuttings of some species produce new shoots, which then form their own root systems, while root cuttings of other plants develop root systems before producing new shoots.

Plants with large roots: Make a straight top cut. Make a slanted cut 2 to 6 inches below the first cut. Store about 3 weeks in moist sawdust, peat moss, or sand at 40°F. Remove from storage. Insert the cutting vertically with the top approximately level with the surface of the rooting medium. This method is often used outdoors. (Example: horse radish).

Plants with small roots
Take 1- to 2-inch sections of roots. Insert the cuttings horizontally about 1/2 inch below the medium surface. This method is usually used indoors or in a hotbed. (Example: bleeding heart).

Stems still attached to their parent plants may form roots where they touch a rooting medium. Severed from the parent plant, the rooted stem becomes a new plant. This method of vegetative propagation, called layering, promotes a high success rate because it prevents the water stress and carbohydrate shortage that plague cuttings.

Some plants layer themselves naturally, but sometimes plant propagators assist the process. Layering may be enhanced by wounding one side of the stem or by bending it very sharply. The rooting medium should always provide aeration and a constant supply of moisture.

Tip layering
Dig a hole 3 to 4 inches deep. Insert the shoot tip and cover it with soil. The tip grows downward first, then bends sharply and grows upward. Roots form at the bend, and the recurved tip becomes a new plant. Remove the tip layer and plant it in the early spring or late fall. Examples: purple and black raspberries, trailing blackberries.

Simple layering
Bend the stem to the ground. Cover part of it with soil, leaving the last 6 to 12 inches exposed. Bend the tip into a vertical position and stake in place. The sharp bend will often induce rooting, but wounding the lower side of the branch or loosening the bark by twisting the stem may help. Examples: forsythia, honeysuckle.

Compound layering
This method works for plants with flexible stems. Bend the stem to the rooting medium as for simple layering, but alternately cover and expose stem sections. Wound the lower side of the stem sections to be covered. Examples: heart-leaf philodendron, pothos.

Mound (stool) layering
Cut the plant back to 1 inch above the ground in the dormant season. Mound soil over the emerging shoots in the spring to enhance their rooting. Examples: gooseberries, apple rootstocks.

Air layering
Air layering is used to propagate some indoor plants with thick stems, or to rejuvenate them when they become leggy. Slit the stem just below a node. Pry the slit open with a toothpick. Surround the wound with wet unmilled sphagnum moss. Wrap plastic or foil around the sphagnum moss and tie in place. When roots pervade the moss, cut the plant off below the root ball.

Plants to Propagate


Tip purple and black raspberries, trailing blackberries
Simple forsythia, honeysuckle, spider plant, most vine-type plants (philodendron, grape ivy, devilºs ivy, swedish ivy, etc.)
Compound heartleaf philodendron, pothos
Mound gooseberries, apple rootstocks
Air Layering plants with rigid stems such as dieffenbachia, ficus, rubber plant, aralia, croton

Propagation from the following plant parts can be considered a modification of layering, as the new plants form before they are detached from their parent plants.

Stolons and runners
A stolon is a horizontal, often fleshy stem that can root, then produce new shoots where it touches the medium. A runner is a slender stem that originates in a leaf axil and grows along the ground or downward from a hanging basket, producing a new plant at its tip. Plants that produce stolons or runners are propagated by severing the new plants from their parent stems. Plantlets at the tips of runners may be rooted while still attached to the parent, or detached and placed in a rooting medium. Examples: strawberry, spider plant.

Plants with a rosetted stem often reproduce by forming new shoots at their base or in leaf axils. Sever the new shoots from the parent plant after they have developed their own root system. Unrooted offsets of some species may be removed and placed in a rooting medium. Some of these must be cut off, while others may be simply lifted off the parent stem. Examples: date palm, haworthia, bromeliads, many cacti.

Separation is a term applied to a form of propagation by which plants that produce bulbs or corms multiply.

New bulbs form beside the originally planted bulb. Separate these bulb clumps every 3 to 5 years for largest blooms and to increase bulb population. Dig up the clump after the leaves have withered. Gently pull the bulbs apart and replant them immediately so their roots can begin to develop. Small, new bulbs may not flower for 2 or 3 years, but large ones should bloom the first year. Examples: tulip, narcissus.

A large new corm forms on top of the old corm, and tiny cormels form around the large corm. After the leaves wither, dig up the corms and allow them to dry in indirect light for 2 or 3 weeks. Remove the cormels, then gently separate the new corm from the old corm. Dust all new corms with a fungicide and store in a cool place until planting time. Examples: crocus, gladiolus.

Plants with more than one rooted crown may be divided and the crowns planted separately. If the stems are not joined, gently pull the plants apart. If the crowns are united by horizontal stems, cut the stems and roots with a sharp knife to minimize injury. Divisions of some outdoor plants should be dusted with a fungicide before they are replanted. Examples: snake plant, iris, prayer plant, day lilies.


Stolons/Runners strawberry, begonia, spider plant
Offsets date palm, haworthia,bromeliads, cacti and succulents,
Bulb tulip, narcissus, hyacinth, amaryllis, lilies
Corm crocus, gladiolus, freesia
Crowns sansevieria, iris, prayer plant, day lilies, boston fern, cast iron plant, peace lily

Asexual Propagation of Perennials
Most perennials left in the same place for more than 3 years are likely to be overgrown, overcrowded, have dead or unsightly centers, and need basic fertilizer and soil amendments. The center of the clump will grow poorly, if at all, and the flowers will be sparse. The clump will deplete the fertility of the soil as the plant crowds itself. To divide mature clumps of perennials, select only vigorous side shoots from the outer part of the clump. Discard the center of the clump. Divide the plant into clumps of three to five shoots each. Be careful not to over-divide; too small a clump will not give much color the first year after replanting. Divide perennials when the plants are dormant just before a new season of growth, or in the fall so they can become established before the ground freezes. Stagger plant divisions so the whole garden will not be redone at the same time; good rotation will yield a display of flowers each year. Do not put all the divisions back into the same space that contained the original plant. That would place too many plants in a given area. Give extra plants to friends, plant them elsewhere in the yard, or discard them.

Many plants can be propagated from either tip or root cuttings. Generally, tip cuttings are easier to propagate than root cuttings. Select second growth of dianthus, candytuft, and phlox for cuttings. Make tip cuttings 3 to 6 inches long. Treat the base of the cutting with a root stimulant. Leave all foliage on the cutting except the part that will be below the soil line. Insert one cutting per peat pot. Place peat pots of tip cuttings in a lightly shaded place. Cover with a sheet of clear plastic. Check regularly to make sure the cuttings do not dry out. When cuttings do not pull easily out of the soil, they have begun to root. Make holes in the plastic sheet to increase the exposure of the cuttings to the air. This will harden the cuttings. Every few days, enlarge the holes or make new ones.

Make root cuttings of phlox, baby’s breath, and oriental poppy. Dig the plants in late summer after they have bloomed. Select pencil-sized roots; cut them into 4-inch sections. Put each piece in a peat pot. Prepare a tray of peat pots as for seeds, except the soil mix should be 2 parts sand, 1 part soil, and 1 part peat moss. Water thoroughly.

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Connecticut State The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Basic Techniques for Propagating Plants

Plant Science Day 2000 Demonstration

Dr. Sharon M. Douglas
Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
123 Huntington Street, P. O. Box 1106
New Haven, CT 06504

Phone: (203) 974-8601
Fax: (203) 974-8502

Email: [email protected]

Many types of plants in and around the home can easily be propagated using fairly simple, inexpensive procedures. Today’s demonstration will highlight a few of the basic and most widely applicable techniques for vegetative propagation of plants. Some of these techniques can be used for houseplants, annual flowers, and bedding plants, whereas other techniques are more effective for woody ornamental trees and shrubs, ground covers, and vines.

There are many reasons for propagating plants. One basic reason is simply to make multiple plants from a single plant. Another reason is to make a young attractive plant from an old, leggy plant. Other reasons are to propagate a particular plant because of its unique or attractive features and to propagate plants for sentimental reasons. Regardless of the reason for propagating plants, there are some basic factors that are useful to ensure success:

  • use only healthy, vigorous source plants;
  • use the most appropriate method, growth stage, and timing for the plant;
  • protect propagation material from heat and from drying; use the material as quickly as possible after it is prepared;
  • give newly propagated plants extra attention and care during their establishment phase;

The demonstration will focus on techniques for vegetative propagation of plants. Plants propagated using these methods have the same characteristics as the parent or source plant since vegetative material is used and no genetic recombination is involved. The key techniques for propagation that will be highlighted are: leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, simple layering, and air layering.

Although many of the techniques that we’ll cover today can be used for a range of different types of plants, it is important to know that some plants root better at a particular stage of growth, at a specific time of year or using a particular technique. Numerous reference books and experience will help to determine the best time and method to propagate specific plants.

As with any procedure, there are some basic tools and equipment that are necessary in order to complete the job and the following list highlights some necessary and optional items:

pruning shears
scalpel, sharp knife or razor blade
paint brush
wooden matches1
small wooden sticks
wooden or plastic stakes1
clear plastic bags and plastic wrap
rooting hormone2
pots or flats of various sizes
soil-less potting mix or a 1:1 mix of peat moss and clean, coarse sand
sphagnum moss1
wire or wire coat hangers
propagation mat (used for bottom heat)

1 used specifically for air layering and/or simple layering
2 rooting hormone is usually sold as indole butyric acid (IBA) and is available in many formulations and concentrations; for plants that are readily propagated by vegetative methods, use of hormones promotes more root growth in a shorter period of time; for plants that are not easily propagated by these methods, rooting hormones will not help with root development;

A number of plants will readily produce new plants from leaf cuttings. Although there is no dependable way to distinguish these plants from others, most plants that root successfully from leaf cuttings have thick, fleshy leaves which often grow in rosettes. These include many of the common houseplants such as gloxinia, African violet, begonia, and peperomia. (Refer to Diagram 1.)


  • the best time to start leaf cuttings is when the plants are in a strong growth phase, usually from early summer to early fall;
  • select a pot or flat of the appropriate size for the number of leaf cuttings that you will be rooting;
  • prepare the rooting medium (either a soil-less potting mix or peat moss and coarse sand); this should be moist but not wet; fill the pots with the medium;
  • select and cut healthy leaves with petioles from the source plant using a sharp, clean knife;
  • trim the base of the petiole but leave enough to insert into the rooting medium without the leaf touching the surface;
  • dip or lightly dust the cut surface with rooting hormone (this is optional, depending on the plant); in order to avoid contaminating the hormone, put a small quantity in a cup rather than sticking the cutting into the original container;
  • make a few planting holes in the rooting medium with a small, clean stick;
  • gently insert each leaf cutting into a hole so that the leaf is just above the rooting medium; carefully firm the medium around each cutting with your fingers but avoid injury to the petioles;
  • place a wire frame over the pot or flat; put the container into a clear plastic bag making certain that the frame is supporting the plastic bag so the plant material is not touching the bag; this creates a “mini-moist chamber” to keep moisture around the leaves as they root;
  • place the chamber in a warm location out of direct sunlight! a propagation mat as a source of bottom-heat is helpful but not necessary;
  • occasionally inspect the pot for condensation and add water as necessary to keep the potting medium moist but not wet;
  • after 3-5 weeks (depending upon the plant being propagated), roots should have started to form;
  • when plants have developed a sufficient root system, gradually “harden-off” the new plants by opening the bag and increasing light levels;
  • place the newly rooted plants into individual pots using care to avoid injury to the new roots;

This technique is probably the most versatile of all methods used for vegetative propagation. It can be used for both herbaceous and woody material. Herbaceous stem cuttings can be made from houseplants, annual flowers and bedding plants, ground covers, and some perennials. Stem cuttings from woody ornamentals can be taken at different stages of development and are categorized as softwood, semi-hardwood, and hardwood cuttings. Softwood stem cuttings are taken in late spring or early summer and consist of tender shoots of current season growth. Semi-hardwood stem cuttings are taken from mid- to late-summer and consist of current season growth that is firm and has begun to form woody tissues. Hardwood stem cuttings are taken in late fall or winter and consist of woody stems that have just completed their first season of growth. For deciduous plants, these are taken after the plants have dropped their leaves. (Refer to Diagram 2.)

Herbaceous and Softwood Stem Cuttings
These types of cuttings are appropriate for many popular houseplants such as philodendron, Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus, jade, and coleus, many annual or bedding plants such as impatiens and geranium, popular ground covers such as pachysandra and English ivy, and woody ornamentals such as magnolia and maple.


  • these cuttings can be taken at the time appropriate for the particular plant to be propagated (e.g., for houseplants or bedding plants this is when new shoots appear in spring; for woody plants it is when the new shoots have expanded and are still tender in late spring or summer);
  • select a pot or flat of the appropriate size for the number of cuttings that you will be rooting;
  • prepare the rooting medium (either a soil-less potting mix or peat moss and coarse sand); this should be moist but not wet; fill the pots with the medium;
  • select and cut terminal shoots (preferably not in flower) from the source plant using a sharp, clean knife or pruning shear; the length of the cutting is determined by the source plant (cuttings usually vary from 2-8 inches in length);
  • remove the leaves near the cut end making certain that some leaves (3-8) remain on the cutting; if the cutting is in flower, carefully pinch off the flowers and flower buds;
  • use a clean, razor blade or scalpel to remove a thin slice of tissue about ½ – 1 inch long on two opposite sides of the cut end or base of the cutting; this provides a surface for root development;
  • lightly dust the cut sides of the cutting with rooting hormone, as necessary; in order to avoid contaminating the hormone, put a small quantity in a cup rather than sticking the cutting into the original container;
  • stick the cuttings into the pots or flats of prepared rooting medium about one-third to one-half of the total length of the cutting; carefully firm the medium around each cutting with your fingers but avoid injury to the stem;
  • place a wire frame over the pot or flat; put the container into a clear plastic bag making certain that the plastic bag is supported by the frame so the plant material is not touching the bag; this creates a “mini-moist chamber” to keep moisture around the leaves as the cuttings root;
  • place the chamber in a warm location out of direct sunlight! a propagation mat as a source of bottom heat is helpful but not necessary;
  • occasionally inspect the pot for condensation and add water as necessary to keep the potting medium moist but not wet;
  • after 5-8 weeks (depending upon the plant being propagated), roots should have started to form;
  • when the cuttings have developed a sufficient root system, gradually “harden-off” the new plants by opening the bag and exposing the cuttings to increasing light levels;
  • place the newly rooted plants into individual pots using care to avoid injury to the new roots;
  • new cuttings will require extra care during the establishment phase;

Semi-hardwood Cuttings
Follow the same techniques for herbaceous or softwood cuttings but select cuttings at the appropriate stage of growth (e.g., mid- to late-summer). These types of cuttings are appropriate for woody ornamentals such as azalea, rhododendron, butterfly bush, rose, and euonymus.

Hardwood Cuttings
Follow the same techniques for herbaceous or softwood cuttings but select cuttings at the appropriate stage of growth (e.g., late fall or winter). These types of cuttings are appropriate for woody plants such as blueberry, juniper, arborvitae, holly, and yew.

This technique can be used for some houseplants as well as a number of woody plants. Simple layering is particularly useful for plants that are difficult to root from stem cuttings or leaves. Unlike stem cuttings which are taken from the source before rooting has occurred, this technique allows roots to develop on a stem while it is still attached to the source or “mother” plant. The basic assumption is that roots will develop when a position on the stem is forced into close contact with a rooting medium. (Refer to Diagram 3.)

This technique works best on plants that have a naturally trailing growth habit such as ivies and philodendrons.


  • the best time to start these is when the plants are in a strong growth phase, usually from early summer to early fall;
  • select a pot of the appropriate size for the stem that you will be rooting;
  • prepare the rooting medium (a soil-less potting mix is preferred); this should be moist but not wet; fill the pots with the medium;
  • select a stem (or stems since more than one plant can be layered from a mother plant at a time) long enough for layering; remove any leaves from the area of the stem where roots will develop; this is usually several inches from the growing tip of the stem;
  • carefully pin the section of the stem for rooting down into the pot with rooting medium with a U-shaped piece of wire (old-fashioned hair pins work well); sometimes a slight nick in the stem with a razor blade or scalpel will help; (another option is a light touch from a paint brush with rooting hormone);
  • make certain that the stem is slightly buried in the mix;
  • water as necessary;
  • new growth at the tip is usually an indication that rooting has occurred;
  • carefully cut the young plant free of the mother plant with a clean, sharp knife;
  • repot the plant as necessary; new cuttings will require extra care as they become established;

Shrubs and Woody Plants
This technique works best on plants that have a naturally trailing growth habit such as rambling or climbing rose, raspberry, wisteria, and clematis but can also be used for low-growing shoots of upright shrubs such as lilac and butterflybush. Deciduous plants are best layered in fall or winter whereas evergreens are best layered in fall or spring.


  • select a healthy, flexible, vigorous shoot that has grown in the current year;
  • gradually and carefully bend it down until a point of the shoot about 9-12 inches from the growing tip reaches the ground;
  • dig a hole about 3-4 inches deep at the point where the shoot touches the ground; partly refill the hole;
  • strip the leaves (if present) from the part of the branch that will be rooted;
  • cut a shallow slit in the underside of the branch with a clean, sharp knife, razor blade or scalpel and gently give the branch a slight twist; (optional: you can dust the cut surface with a rooting hormone using a paint brush)
  • place the prepared stem section into the hole and carefully bend the tip of the shoot upward;
  • secure the stem into the hole with a U-shaped wire around 6-8 inches long (this process is called “pegging”); bend the tip of the shoot upright and support it with a study stake;
  • fill the hole with the remaining soil and cover the pegged area of the stem;
  • thoroughly water the area and water as necessary during the rooting process;
  • plants usually root within 12 months; you can check for rooting by gently pulling the soil away from the plant;
  • once roots are visible and well-developed, sever the new plant from the parent plant using a clean, sharp knife or pruning shear; leave the newly rooted plant in the site for a 2-3 week period of adjustment;
  • dig and gently lift out the rootball and replant;
  • newly rooted plants will require extra care during the establishment phase;

This technique is used for plants that are difficult to root and it is especially helpful for houseplants that have become tall and “leggy” such as an aging rubber plant, codiaeum or dracaena. Air layering can also be used to propagate woody plants with stiff, upright limbs that can’t be propagated by simple layering such as some types of holly. As the name suggests, the objective is to stimulate root growth at some point on a stem without lowering the stem to the surface of rooting medium or soil. Old houseplants are usually good candidates for air layering whereas one year-old stems of woody ornamentals are best for air layering. Older stems can be used but the rooting process is substantially slower. (Refer to Diagram 4.)


  • select the portion of the stem where you want the roots to develop;
  • if leaves are present in that area, carefully remove them;
  • use a clean sharp knife or scalpel to make a 1-1½ inch upward-slanting cut, starting below a leaf node, if possible;
  • carefully prop the cut surface open (a wooden match works well) and dust the surface with a paint brush containing a rooting hormone; remove the match so the cut will close;
  • wrap a piece of clear plastic wrap or a piece cut from a clear plastic bag around the stem under the cut section;
  • secure the plastic around the stem with tape;
  • pack the cut portion of the stem with moist, but not wet, sphagnum moss; make certain to press the moss to the base of the stem so no air pockets are left;
  • twist, seal, and secure the top of the plastic wrap tightly around the stem with tape;
  • if air layering a houseplant, place the plant in indirect sunlight;
  • if air layering a woody plant outdoors, routinely check the air layer packet for buildup of water and insert drain holes if necessary;
  • for houseplants, new white roots should be visible through the plastic within 8-10 weeks; for woody ornamentals, rooting usually takes one full year;
  • remove the plastic and cut the stem right below the newly developed roots with a clean, sharp pruning shear or knife;
  • put the new houseplant into a new pot or transplant the woody shoot into a protected site for several months;
  • newly rooted plants will require extra care during the establishment phase;

Dirr, Michael A. (1998) Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, 5th Edition. Stipes Publishing L. L. C., Champaign, IL. 1187 pp.

Propagation methods in plants

Propagation methods in plants

  1. 1. Propagation Methods in Plants
  2. 2. • Plant Propagation: Definition: Plant propagation can be defined as controlled reproduction of a plant by a man in order to perpetuate a selected individuals, or group of individuals which is having specific values to him. There are Two Method of Propagation: • 1. Sexual Propagation • 2. Asexual Propaga
  3. 3. Sexual Propagation in Plants • Multiplication of plants by using seed is called as sexual propagation.
  4. 4. Advantages: 1. The plant raised by seed is planted lived. 2. They are hardy with deep root system. So they are vigorous in growth. 3. The possibility is there to obtain change in seedling, the performance of which are better than their parents. E.g. mango variety. 4. The polyembryony. The phenomenon of propagation of more than one seedling from a single seed, produce true to type, nuclear embryonic seedling which could be used as rootstock for uniform performance. E.g. Mango, varieties. It is also common in citrus and jamun.
  5. 5. 5. Seed propagation is necessary when vegetative propagation is unsuccessful or expenses e.g. papaya, coconut and Areca nut. 7. Roots stocks are usually raised by seed e.g. 8. When seedling is required in large number, seed propagation is the only easy mean e.g. Dry land fruit, and Forest spp.
  6. 6. Disadvantages: 1. When progenies are not true type and so they become inferior because in the commercial orchard, it is necessary to have uniform quality, growth and yielding capacities. 2. Choice tree or any hybrid trees cannot be perpetuated true to type by seed. (except in Apomixes ) 3. Seedling has a long juvenile period. In crops like citrus, coca, and rubber. The seeds must be sown afresh. i.e. immediately after extraction. Many varieties are seedless. 4. Seeds loose its viability in short period
  7. 7. Seed Germination and Seed Propagation: • Seed propagation is necessary in the following cases: i) Where vegetative propagation is unsuccessful or difficult or expensive. • ii) It is necessary for raising rootstock for grafting and budding. • In all such cases rootstock plants have to be raised through seeds mostly
  8. 8. Seed Formation and Maturity: • Seed develops along with the fruit and reaches, full size and maturity when the fruit ripens. Hence seed should be extracted only from ripe fruit. Seeds gathered from immature fruit may not germinate to under favorable conditions and may loose viability more quickly than fully matured seeds
  9. 9. Dormancy: • It is term used to describe a seed that will not germinate because of any condition associated either with the seed itself or with existing environmental factors such as temperature and moisture. • Some seeds may even germinate within the fruit, e.g. Jack, avocado, chow- chow, papaya, called as Viviparous germination.
  10. 10. Seed viability and longevity: • Viability means the presence of life in the seed. Longevity refers to the length of time that seeds will retain their viability viability. Some seeds are short lived. (Citrus).
  11. 11. Pre – germination Seed Treatment: 1. Chemical (Acid scarification): The purpose is to modify hard or important or impermeable seed covering generally soaking seed in concentrated sulphuric acid is an effective method. The time of treatment may vary from 10 minutes to 6 hour according to species. After treatment seeds are thoroughly washed in clean water to make them free of acid and then re sown immediately. i.e. the seeds of ber, cotton, Asparagus are treated with 50% concentrated H2so4. The seeds are soaked in acid for 3 to 5 minutes.
  12. 12. 2.Mechanical(Scarification): • Seeds of a few species with impermeable seed coat. i.e. hard seed coat can be rendered permeable to water and gases their germination is greatly improved by mechanical scarification in taking care that seeds should be injured not be injured heavily. This can be achieved by
  13. 13. 3. Seedling (Boiled Water Treatment): • Pouring boiling water over seeds and getting it to cool gradually for about 12 to 24 Hour to soften dry and hard shelled seeds. E.g. Coffee, This will hasten the process of germination.
  14. 14. 4. Soaking in Water: • The purpose of soaking seeds in water is to modify hard seed coats, to remove inhibitors to soften seed and to reduce the time of germination. The time of soaking seeds in cold water depend upon the hardness of the seed coat. E. g peas, beans, acassia tree etc.
  15. 15. 5. Stratification (Moist Chilling): • Seed of many woody trees or shrubs are exposed to low temperature to bring about prompt and uniform germination. Stratification. Stratification has some benefit in softening the seed coats. The seeds are arranged in alternate layers of sand in shallow boxes for pits or trenches. This condition helps in rapid germination peach cherry, plum, oat, grapes.
  16. 16. Asexual Propagation in Plants • Asexual propagation or vegetative propagation refers to the multiplication or perpetuation of any plant from any vegetative parts as plant other then the seed.
  17. 17. Advantages of Vegetative Propagation: • 1. The progenies are true to type like mother plant. • 2. Vegetative propagation is the only alternate where no seed is formed or germination of seed is very slow or no viable seed is formed. (e.g. Banana, Pine apple and roses, seedless grape ).
  18. 18. • 3. Certain rootstock has the capacity of resisting or tolerating the adverse environment factors such as frost and adverse soil factors like salinity or alkalinity. E.g. frost resistance, foncirus trifoliate (Trifoliate orange ). Rangpur lime. • 4. The ability of certain rootstock to resistant pest and diseases can be advantageously expected. An apple when grafted on rootstock like Merton 778,793 is resistant for wholly aphid.
  19. 19. 5. Vegative propagated plants are generally dwarfed in nature than the seedlings. Dwarf trees facilitate pruning spraying and harvesting easy seedling. Dwarf trees facilate pruning, spraying and harvesting easy and more number of plants can be accommodated in a unit area. 6. To replant an undesirable existing tree either with reference to its quality or susceptibility to pests and diseases. The defect can be overcome easily by vegetative propagation through grafting or budding of desirable scion to the existence tree by top working technique.
  20. 20. 7. Many plants are propagated by vegetative means because of the speedy easy of multiplication. 8. Novelty can be developed by grafting or budding on single plant many varieties. E.g. Roses. 9. To convert inferior varieties in superior, side grafting in mango.
  21. 21. Disadvantages: • 1. Plant is not vigorous and long lived. • 2. No new varieties are evolved or developed. • 3. These methods are expensive and labourious and time consuming.
  22. 22. Plant Propagation by Cottage Definition: “Cottage is a method of asexual propagation in which a portion of any Vegegative part such as stem, leaf or root is cut from the parent plant and is placed under favorable environmental condition to form roots and shoots, thus producing a new independent plant.” A) Stem Cutting: • This is the most important type of cutting and can be divide into three types based on the nature of the wood used in marketing the cutting. i) Hard wood cutting ii) Semi- hard wood cutting iii) Soft- wood cutting. In propagated by stem cuttings, segment of shoots containg lateral or terminal buds handled under proper condition to develop adventitious roots and form independent palnts.
  23. 23. Plant Propagation by Layering Definition: • Layering is the development of roots on a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. The rooted stem is stem is then detached to become a new plant growing on its own roots. Thus rooted stem stem is known as layer.
  24. 24. Root Formation During Layering is Stimulated by Various Stem Treatments: 1. Bending of shoots to a sharp V shape. 2. Giving a cut or incision of the lower surface of the shoot. 3. Girdling/ by removing a ring of bark or by wrapping copper wire around stem.
  25. 25. Methods: A) Simple Layering or Tongue Layering: • In this method a branch is bent to the ground and some portion of it, is covered by soil leaving the terminal and of the branch exposed. Root initiation takes place at the buried portion. After the root initiation. i.e. after allowing sufficient time the layer is separated from the mother plant by cutting the layered shoot. E.g. Guava, jasmine, etc.
  26. 26. C) Mound Stool Layering: • In this method a plant is cut back at the ground during the dormant season, and soil is covered at the base of the newly developing shoots. After allowing sufficient time for root initiation, the rooted shoots are separated and taken as individual layers.
  27. 27. D) Air Layering: • In air layering, roots, from on an aerial shoots. The rooting medium will be tied to the shoots for getting root initiation. Best rooting medium for air layering is sphagnum- moss as it holds large amounts of water so as to supply moisture to the layered shoot till proper root initiation takes place, (Pomegranate , fig )
  28. 28. Grafting Definition: • Grafting and budding is a art joining two different plant parts together, in such a manner that they unites and continues their growth as simple plant. In case of building single bud is inserted in to the stock, where as in grafting a bud stick consisting two or more buds is inserted in to the stock. • Stock is a lower portion of the graft union, where as, scion is the upper portion a place at which both unites is termed as scion or graft union.
  29. 29. Graft Incompatibility: • The ability of two different plants when grafted together to produce a successful union and also to develop satiory into one composted plant is termed as ‘Compatibility’. The inability of two different plants to do so when grafted together as often defined as ‘incompatibility” of graft
  30. 30. Symptoms of Incompatibility: Graft union malformation resulting incompatibility usually expresses the following external symptoms viz. 1. Failure to from a successful graft or bud union with a high percentage of success. 2. Yellowing of leaves in the latter part of the growing season followed by early defoliation accompanied by decline in vegetative growth. Appearance of shoot dies back and general in health of the tree.
  31. 31. 3. Premature death of the trees which may live only a year or two in the nursery. 4. Marked difference in the growth rate or vigour of scion and stock. 5. over growth at, above or below the graft union. Incompatibility has been ensured in swat oranges. Cv. Mosabi when grafted on trifoliate orange. (Citrus maxima).
  32. 32. Methods of Grafting • There are several techniques of grafting followed in different plants, suitable in different situation. Adoption of any suitable technique facilities, sources available etc.
  33. 33. A) Scion Attached Methods: • These are the methods of grafting where in the scion is kept attached to the mother plant till the graft union takes place and then the graft is separated in stage taking cuts on scion below the graft union and on root stock above the graft union. This principle is followed in following methods: i) Simple approach or inarching. ii) Saddle grafting. iii) Tongue grafting.
  34. 34. Simple approach or inarching.
  35. 35. Saddle grafting.
  36. 36. Tongue grafting.
  37. 37. B) Scion Detached Methods: These are the grafting methods where in the scion is first detached from mother plan then inserted in to root stock so as the union takes place and combination continues to grow. These methods are: ii) Wedge grafting. iii) Saddle grafting. iv) Whip and tongue grafting. v) Whip grafting. Vi) Softwood grafting. vi) Stone grafting.
  38. 38. wedge
  39. 39. Whip
  40. 40. Stone rafting
  41. 41. C) Methods of Grafting on Established Trees: • Methods which can be successfully adopted to convert the inferior established plants in to the superior or desired one. These are • i) Side grafting ii) Crown grafting iii) Top working.
  42. 42. Side grafting
  43. 43. Budding • Budding is the vegetative method of plant propagation and can be defined as “ an art of insertion of a single mature bud in to the stem of the rootstock in such way that the union takes place and the combination continues to grow. It is grafting of a single individual bud instead of whole bud stick on scion as in done in case of grafting. • There are several techniques or methods of insertion of bud in to the root stock. The adoption of any of the methods like grafting depends upon the plants to be budded, situation, facilities and source available etc.
  44. 44. Different Techniques of Methods of Budding: • I) Shield Budding: • This is the methods of budding in which a single bud with a little wood or without wood is taken but from the scion plant and is given a shape of ‘shield ‘before it is inserted into the root stock. It is done in following three ways: shield budding by ‘ T’ methods
  45. 45. Shield budding
  46. 46. B) Shield Budding by ‘I’ Method: • It is adopted where a great deal of rains occur. Water running down the stem of the root stock. After in case of the ‘ T’ cut soaks under the bud and causes decay of the shield piece of bud. Under such condition and ‘inverted’ T budding may give better results, since it is more likely to the below the bark inform running water. The technique required in this method is same as that in T method except that the incision on the stock has the transceivers ( cross ) is taken on root stock and it is bent so that the bark become loose. Then the bud is inserted and tied firmly with sutali. Union takes place within two to three weeks.
  47. 47. C) Simple Shield Budding by Insertion Method: • A simple length wise incision ( cut ) is taken on root stock and it is bent so that the bark become loose. Then the bud is inserted and tied firmly with sutali. Union takes place within two to three weeks.
  48. 48. II) Patch Budding: (Mango): • Patch budding is somewhat slower and more difficult to perform than T budding. But is widely and successfully used on the plants which got thick bark. The patch of bark is removed from the stem of the root stock. Then the patch of bud of exactly the same size is removed from the bud stock taken from desired tree and fitted on the root stock exposed area. Polythene film is tied to protect same. Separating and October are considerable to rather most suitable months for patch budding in mango.
  49. 49. Patch budding
  50. 50. III) Flute Budding: • This method makes use of the ring of tissues adjoin the bud relatively thick barked tree thicker than 1 cm. and in active stage of are commonly budded by this method. It is successfully used in Cashew nut trees. • On the bark of root stock two horizontal cuts about ‘1 ½ to 2’ apart are made to the extent of about 3/ 4 of the diameter of the stem. Vertical cuts connecting the horizontals cuts at both the ends are mode and semi circular bark is removed. The scion is prepared by repeating the same methods on the bud stack and the bud accompanying with flute of bark is placed against the corresponding cut portion of the stock. After this typing is attended in usual ways. All other operation are also similar to those in shield budding.
  51. 51. Flute budding
  52. 52. IV) Ring Budding: • The nature and method rendered its usefulness only to small stocks of not more than ¾ to 1 diameter. This is more or less an extension of flute method. Budding operation is performed when the plant is in sap flowing condition. A complete (1 ½ to 2) ring of bark is removed around the stem of the stock in order to from matrix. A complete ring of bark of the same with a prominent, plumy, healthy bud is removed from bud stick when placed on stock; it extends all around the stock. After placing the ring in position typing is done in usual manner, failure of the bud to unite, result in loss of terminal portion of stock above the ringed portion.

Did you know that plants can grow and reproduce without seeds or spores? Actually, plants can reproduce from stems, roots and even leaves. It is the process of vegetative propagation. Horticulturists use propagation methods such as grafting and budding to even improve the plants. Let us take a look.

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Vegetative Propagation

Vegetative propagation is probably something very peculiar to plants. The very same feature is also exploited for the commercial value and by avid gardeners who know their plants well. You don’t always need seeds to grow plants. New plants can grow from older plants, through the method of vegetative propagation such as grafting and budding. It is a form of asexual reproduction seen in plants. Here only a single plant is involved and the offspring that arises is identical, both genetically and morphologically to the parent plant.

Vegetative propagation occurs through vegetative plant structures. In non-vascular plants, the vegetative reproductive structures are gemmae and spores whereas, in vascular plants, the roots, stems, leaves, and nodes are the structures that are involved in the propagation. You have learned about the meristem tissue in plants. The same tissue helps in the vegetative propagation. This tissue has undifferentiated cells which divide paving way for the growth of the plant. From the meristems, specialized permanent tissues are formed.

Types of Vegetative Propagation

Vegetative Propagation by Roots

In this process, new plants grow out of the modified roots called tubers. Some plant roots also develop adventitious buds. These buds grow and form new plants/sprouts under the right conditions. These sprouts can be separated from the parent plant and when planted in other areas, new plants are formed. Example – Sweet potato, Dahlia etc.

Vegetative Propagation by Stems

Vegetative propagation occurs through stems when new plants arise from the nodes. This is where buds are formed, which grow into new plants. Stems that grow horizontally on the ground are called runners. As these runners grow, buds are formed at the nodes, which later develop the roots and shoots, resulting in the formation of a new plant. Example – Cyanodon; Mint etc.

The round, swollen part of the underground stem is called a bulb. Within the bulb lies the organ for vegetative propagation such as the central shoot that grows into a new plant. Bulbs have a bud surrounded by layers of fleshy leaves. A few examples include Onions, Garlic, and Tulips etc.

In plants like potatoes, stem tubers are found. This part is the swollen apical part containing many nodes or eyes. Every eye has buds. New plants originate from these buds.

Vegetative Propagation by Leaf

Plants like Bryophyllum, Begonia etc., have adventitious buds coming out from the notches of the leaves. These buds develop into new plants.

Source – Wikipedia


It is the most common method employed by gardeners to grow new plants. A portion of the stem is cut and planted in the soil, which develops roots and further grows into a new plant.

Source – Wikipedia


In grafting, two closely related plants are used to produce a new plant that has the desired, combined traits of both the parent plants. One plant is the stock, where the root system is taken and the other is the Scion, where the shoot system is used. The scion is attached to the stock of the second plant in this method of artificial vegetative propagation. Grafting is used in a variety of plants like roses, apples, avocado etc.


In this method, a bud with a small portion of bark is taken from the desired plant. This is inserted into a small slit that is made in the bark of the other plant. Both the plants are tied together and the buds are not allowed to dry.

Solved Questions For You

Q: Vegetative propagation is mainly used for commercial purposes. Explain.

Ans. The greatest advantage of vegetative propagation is that it produces natural clones of the parent plant. The new plants that are produced have the same genetic material. Therefore it is possible to produce plants that have the same desired traits again and again. This ensures that there is consistency maintained in the quality of the produce. Hence, vegetative propagation is commercially exploited.

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