How to multiply your plants

There are many types of plants that are propagated by cuttings. Thanks to this system you can multiply your favourite plants very easily. Today we would like to give you some useful information about the species of trees, shrubs and plants that you can reproduce from a small fragment of the mother plant.

what is plant propagation by cuttings?

A cutting is a piece of the stem, leaves or root of a plant that is put to root in order to obtain a new specimen. Although plants multiply sexually through their seeds, it is possible to reproduce some varieties using this system, that is, by cutting a part of the plant to obtain a new specimen with identical characteristics.

Transplanting by cuttings is a very common system of reproduction as, apart from being very simple, it is effective in almost all types of varieties. The separated piece of the plant, transplanted to a new pot, will produce new roots that will give rise to a new plant. Each type of plant requires a particular type of cutting:

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It is quite common practice to propagate houseplants by cuttings. All you need is a suitable cutting tool, fresh compost and irrigation water. The cuttings should be kept at a suitable humidity level.

The new plant can be placed in soil or in a container of water. Both methods are correct and to test their effectiveness, just wait and see which one "works" best.

  • Sprouting

Certain species of houseplants produce new visible shoots, which can be used to grow a new plant. To plant it in a new pot, the sprout should be cut, trying to get as many roots as possible. Some varieties that reproduce using this system are aloe vera, some types of bromeliads or air carnations.

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  • Plantlets

Other varieties, e.g. ribbons, produce mini plants at the ends of their flowering stems, similar to the mother plant. Simply cut them off, repot them in a pot with a suitable substrate and in a short time the small plant will have taken root.

  • Stem cuttings

Getting new plants from a stem cutting is very easy. Just cut off a 10-15 centimetre long piece of the stem and place it in a new pot with moistened soil. If the stem to be transplanted is a succulent or cactus, it is advisable to leave it in the air for two or three hours before inserting it into the soil.

  • Leaf cuttings

Other plants, such as aloe vera, can be replicated from one of their leaves. Simply detach a leaf, cut it into pieces and plant the fragments in a slightly moistened substrate. Two thirds of the leaf should remain outside the pot so that it can continue to photosynthesise. The pot with the leaf fragments should be kept in a sunny spot, making sure that the soil in the pot maintains its moisture level. Most succulents can be multiplied in this way.

Shrubs and trees

Many trees and shrubs can be replicated from cuttings of the original plant. For evergreens, it is best to take cuttings from the tips or most recent branches.

Trees can be propagated by cuttings of three types:

Woody cuttings

  • deciduous trees

Woody cuttings are mainly used for deciduous trees but also for many evergreen varieties.

Small woody twigs are cut mainly during the cold months, when deciduous trees are leafless.

Cuttings should be at least one year old. In the case of olive or fig trees, they should preferably be at least two years old or older.

Cut the branches. The length of the branches will depend on the type of tree, although in general, the size of the cuttings is usually between 20 and 40 centimetres.

Section the branches at the lower end, under a bud or gnarled part. At the other end, make the cut 1 to 2 centimetres away from another gnarled area.

  • evergreen trees

To take cuttings from deciduous trees, you will need to remove the leaves from the lowermost part, leaving only a few leaves at the end. You can then plant these cuttings:

  1. Outdoors: In the ground, in the open air.
  2. Indoors: In containers, as this way they take root better than directly in the ground.

In areas with Mediterranean-type climates, with warm or mild temperatures, you can plant the cuttings directly outdoors. To make it easier for them to take hold, the soil should be well tilled to aerate and loosen it. Then add a layer of mulch.

In areas with cold climates, store cuttings or cuttings in the refrigerator in plastic wrap for planting out in the spring.

When storing cuttings, be sure to mark the part of the base, i.e. the part that will go in the ground. You can make a small cut, encircle it with string, etc. A good solution is to dip the base in wax, which will also serve to seal it and maintain the humidity with which to encourage subsequent rooting.

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To encourage the production of roots, it is a good idea to spray the base of the cutting with a rooting hormone preparation, which can be bought in specialised shops.


Cutting under cover is the most common way of doing this. For this purpose, pots, plates or similar containers are used to place the cuttings under cover.

A substrate of peat and sand is used, to which rooting hormones are added.

After the following autumn, these rooted cuttings are planted in individual pots and remain there until they are planted out again in their final location.

Semi-woody cuttings

Mostly used for shrubs, but also suitable for trees.

The best time for this type of cutting is during the warmer months, from early spring to early autumn.

Cut small cuttings about 15 cm long, containing a few knots.

The lower cut should be just below a knotty area.

Remove the lowermost leaves and leave just a few at the tip.

Spray the base of the cutting with rooting hormones to stimulate rooting.

Place a preparation of mulch or peat, with 50% sand in pots, trays or other similar containers.

Bury the lower part of the cuttings in the substrate and press them down well.

Place the container with the cuttings in a place away from direct sunlight and draughts, taking care to keep the substrate constantly moist.

Cover the container with a plastic bag, glass jars, etc., to make a kind of mini greenhouse. Ventilate from time to time to avoid excess condensation. The ambient temperature should be around 20°C.

In about 15 days, the cuttings will have produced roots and your new plant will be ready for final placement.

Root cuttings

They are taken during the autumn and spring months. Just cut a few pieces of root cuttings the diameter of a pencil and 5 cm long and stick them vertically into the ground. This type of cutting is suitable for many types of trees, including olive, fig, poplar and apple.

Soft or watery-stemmed plants

Soft-stemmed plants are perhaps the easiest to propagate by means of cuttings. All you have to do is cut off part of the plant, remove the leaves from the lower part and place the stem in water.

Change the water daily to prevent the stem from rotting. After a few days, the cutting will have rooted.

Once the roots have taken root, simply place the new plant in a suitable pot with soil and sand until it takes hold. Each type of plant takes different lengths of time to root.

Propagation by cuttings is an excellent way to multiply your plants. Remember that you are not always 100% guaranteed success, but with a little practice and some patience, you will be able to enjoy your favourite species without limits.
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About the author
Yvonne Briones

There is something that plants and content creation have in common: natural geometry. I love creating visual content and managing Be.Green campaigns.