How to Successfully Propagate Houseplants

Tons of my best tips to help you propagate plants like a pro
A Beginners Guide to Successfully Propagating Houseplants including leaf cutting, stem cutting, and plant division. Tips for plant propagation for pothos, spider plant, zz plant & more.

I’m sure a million and one articles and blog posts have been written about how to propagate houseplants… but despite reading a few of them, I always had mixed results! It felt like I was totally missing something. So I did even more research and then just started testing things out. So today I wanted to share tips that I swear by when it comes to propagating houseplants!

My Beginners Guide to Successfully Propagating Houseplants

Research accordingly

As we probably all know by now, I am the least patient person in the entire world. So when I read how easy it is to propagate pothos (literally cutting a piece off and sticking it in water), I thought that was all I had to do for every plant. While that technique is frequently the case, it isn’t always… meaning I’ve ended up quite frustrated when my propagations didn’t take. So I highly recommend taking the time to do your due diligence and actually look into what experts recommend for the specific houseplant. It’s a no-brainer to some, but if you’re like me and super-scatterbrained, it’s a good reminder!

Start with the basics

I’m a firm believer in setting myself up for success right away when learning something new. By that I mean baby steps. Start with houseplants that are easy to propagate like a ZZ plant, snake plant, and pothos. Those 3 plants are very forgiving! Plus, they are inexpensive to replace if your experiments get a little out of hand.

A few more of the easiest and best plants to propagate:
  • Spider plant
  • String of Hearts
  • Tradescantia pallida
  • Pilea Peperiomoides
  • Prayer plant
  • Philodendron
  • Peace lily
  • Succulents

Knowing where to cut the transplant

Did you know that if you cut the plant in the right place it will grow a new plant in a shorter amount of time? The best way to get a good cutting of a plant like pothos is to cut below the leaf joint with a sharp knife. This is the spot below where leaves come out of the stem. Once you’ve cut it, remove the leaves that are above the end so that it’s clean. I also like to trim the end at an angle so that the cutting has more surface area to get water. Not sure if this is a real thing or not, but I know it works for flower arranging, so I do it anyways!

After the stem is trimmed, place the cutting into a glass of water. I just use upcycled jars from condiments for this. Fill the glass to the top with water and place it in a warm, sunny spot like a window sill. Some plants will start to shoot out tiny baby roots quickly, but usually it takes a few weeks. Just be sure to keep the water topped off!

Once they have a good root system, you can pot the baby plant.

Use the correct propagating method

As I not-so-quickly learned, not all plants propagate by growing roots into a glass of water. OOPS. There are a few different types of plant propagation methods, here are a couple that are great for beginners:

  • Leaf cutting or stem cutting: this is the process I outlined above
  • Division: this propagation method is great for plants that create shoots or little baby plants themselves! All you have to do is separate the new plants and their roots and re-pot. A good example of this is a spider plant.

What do you think about my plant propagation tips? I wanted to keep the list simple and straightforward and have it geared toward beginners. But if I missed anything, leave a comment and let me know!

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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