Types of Propagation

Propagation, put simply, is the process of creating new plants from existing ones.
There are two types of propagation – sexual and asexual.
Sexual propagation requires a seed or a spore that has been fertilised. The plant from the seed or spore will not always directly resemble the plant parent, but hold traits from both the male and female plants. Much the same as humans.
Asexual propagation does not require a male and female plant. A plant can be produced from only one parent.
This can be done by stem, root or leaf cutting, or all three.

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Seeds / Spores
The majority of plants on earth are propagated by sexual propagation.Seeds or spores are dispersed by wind, water, insects & animals.
An example of spore propagation are Ferns, seeds – Palms, Sunflowers etc

Spores on a Fern Leaf


There are 9 asexual propagation techniques, some more effective than others, and some only suited for specific plants.

Cuttings – This is the most common in houseplant propagation. Cuttings can either be softwood, semi-hardwood, hardwood or tip cuttings. Cuttings can be placed directly in potting medium, or in perlite or water, until roots are formed.

Tissue cultures – A piece of plant tissue is grown, usually in laboratory settings, then eventually planted in soil.
Separation – plants are separated from a plant clump; this is common propagation for Aloes.
Divisions – cutting several plants from one plant into two or more plants. This is common for bulbs, rhizomes, tubers and suckers.

Division of Stromanthe triostar

Runners – Spider plants are an example of runners, baby plants are produced on the ends of the runners, which can then be snipped off and transplanted.
Suckers – Separation of the sucker from the mother plants roots – Only possibly in plants which can produce suckers or pups on their root systems. An example of a plant which produces suckers are bananas.
Grafting – Involves taking a piece of a plant, usually a stem, and attaching it to another plant in a way that the two will grow together.
Layering – There are several techniques to layering, but all involve roots forming along a stem. Unlike other methods of propagation, this method is the easiest in terms of success rate. New growth is supported by the parent plant, until it roots, shoots, and can be separated. Layering can also be done using sphagnum moss by cutting or scraping the plant, wrapping the damp sphagnum around the wound ,and securing it with cling film, tape and aluminium foil. Roots should develop in several weeks, and a cutting can be made.

Layering on a Magnolia Plant

Budding – When a bud from one plant it grafted onto another plant.

More detailed information on propagation techniques for specific plants, in upcoming posts!