When it comes to propagating plants, some plant varieties just make it easy. Like the spider plant below, they shoot off tiny little babies for you without much help or guidance on your part. This is called asexual propagation. You can also do this with cuttings, but that’s another post in itself.
The easiest way to know when a shoot is ready is if you see tiny roots beginning to form at the bottom of the baby plant, as pictured below.
With the spider plant, I usually just clip the shoot at the nearest leaf intersection before the new plant starts, so there isn’t a ton of dead shoot just hanging out. That can lead to disease or might make the shoot decide to just give up the ghost for no reason. The point is to limit the possibility of your plant getting too sad to live, right? If there’s life on the end of the shoot after you cut, that’s the best way to operate.
When I’ve got my babies separated, I partially immerse them in water to let the roots mature. Some people like to stick them directly into wet dirt, which is also acceptable, but this is the way my momma taught me and I prefer this method. If you’d like, you can add the tiniest bit of plant food (literally a drop) if you want to speed along the process. I keep them in fresh water for a week or two (seriously, just change the water every three days or so) and then put them in new, warm dirt homes.
Some plants have shoots originating through the root system, instead of above ground (aloe is a great example of this). In this case, gently dig into the soil with your finger to find where the new plant intersects with the mother plant and carefully snap it off. The key here is to do this without disturbing the secondary roots of both the mother and the baby plant. Secondary roots are just as important as the taproots and damage control is ridiculously important here.
There are tons of advantages to propagating like this — if you want more, you’ve only got to wait for the main plant to mature enough to make shoots. And if you take the shoots, it redirects nutrients back to the mother plant, instead of sapping it all to the babies. You can trade the babies to friends for other plant varieties you don’t have or even sell them.
What other plants do this? Strawberries, mints, aloe, pothos, philodendron, Chinese money tree plants… and tons more than I want to list here, because it would take days. To find more varieties, ask a grower at a garden center or direct a question to a local master gardener. You can also comment below or send me an email. 🙂
Do you propagate? What’s your favorite plant that you’d like to reproduce? Let me know in the comments!