How to propagate plants – Snake, Spider plants, succulents and more

A beginner's guide to propagating plants from cuttings, in water or not, using the leaves and more expert but easy ways.

Spider plant propagation in a clear jar
(Image credit: おにぎり on Unsplash)

Knowing how to propagate plants is not only very satisfying but it's also one of the most useful budget-friendly ideas going if you plan on creating your own indoor jungle. You are essentially multiplying your favorite house plants, for free. 

When you care for house plants properly, you usually are rewarded with the opportunity to make more plants. Aloe vera will pop up pups all around the soil, Spider Plants will offshoot small plantlets, and healthy plants can often be propagated using their leaves or by division. It might seem like a complicated task but there are a few different techniques to choose from, depending on the plant at hand, and then it's pretty straightforward. Some plants basically do it for you. Whether you have a Monstera to propagate or want to bring ten ZZ plants to life, we can help.

Plant propagation essentials:

Sansevieria potted plant against pink background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Propagating plants by leaf cuttings

This is a good method for snake plants and succulents too (though you will not need to divide the succulent leaves). Simply divide a healthy leaf into sections, of about 2-4 inches wide, taking note of the bottom end.

Next, lightly dip the bottom ends in a little rooting hormone powder, then press these in moist potting compost. Keep your pots in a sunny, warm spot, and roots should start to establish in a few weeks.

Snake plant leaf propagation in tray

(Image credit: Future x Camille Welch)

Propagating plants by division

This is an ideal method for indoor varieties like like ZZ plants, Calathea and Peace Lily. You'll need to water your plant the day before. Prepare separate planting pots ahead of time, then gently remove the parent plant from its pot to reveal the rootball/rhizomes. Look for natural divisions and gently tease the roots free as you divide the plant. Note for ZZ and other Rhizome plants you may need more of a tug. Take it slow as you should try not to tear or break any roots here. Remove any dead or unhealthy growth. 

Some put the individual plants in plastic bags  to stop them losing moisture and going into shock, or you can pot them up carefully as you go. Replace the soil of the mother plant and consider adding some of this to the offspring too to soften the change in environment.

Water them, letting any excess drain off and try to keep them together in a warm and well lit spot, caring for them as you would usually, until they start to grow.

Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves in the light

(Image credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash)

Propagating plants by stem cuttings

You'll want to select a healthy and mature vine, preferably one with visible root nodes that look like small bumps (this is where new roots comes from). Cut just before a node, a few inches from the top of a branch. Then carefully pull off any leaves from the bottom 1-2 inches. Next you want to dip the end in rooting hormone and pop it into some potting soil, in the corner of a pot, using a pencil to carve out a hole so that you don't rub off the rooting powder. Fill the hole up to secure your cutting, water and keep it in a warm bright spot until established enough to move into a bigger pot.

Calathea propagation by water

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to propagate plants in water

Most Aroid/Araceae family plants and pothos plants such as Monstera, Philodendrons and ZZ plants can be successfully propagated in water too. This also works well for mint.  Simply remove the stem cutting as before and plant it in a water-filled cup at room temperature. When it starts rooting in a couple of weeks, move it into potting compost and grow as usual.

Note, you don't want any leaves to be in the water or they will rot so if this is an issue, try and hoist up your cutting as it were using cocktail sticks or another creative way.

What is the best method of plant propagation?

There's no best method, but it's whatever suits the houseplant you're working with.
We spoke with Kate Turner, houseplant guru at Miracle Gro about the best ways to propagate indoor plants successfully.

'There’s nothing better than being able to extend your houseplant collections by propagating your favourite ones. There are different propagation techniques for different plants, but below are three easy ways to propagate and increase your plant collection for free!'

How to propagate succulents 

Succulents are particularly easy to plants to propagate – whether a house or garden plant – as clump-forming varieties produce offsets. You can take leaf cuttings from fleshy leaved species, and stem cuttings from branching types.

Turner adds, 'Most succulents are super easy to propagate. Take off a healthy leaf and leave it somewhere dry to develop a callus for a few days. Then simply place the leaves on top of a pot or tray of compost and it will produce babies called chicks and then roots.'

Succulents and mix of pink roses

(Image credit: Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash)

How to propagate Aloe vera

'Carefully pull up the visible Aloe pups from the surrounding soil of the parent plant, taking as much of the root as you can. Brush off any excess soil then, as with succulents, leave them somewhere dry to develop a callus for a few days. Then you can pop them into potting soil to root properly. Keep them in a sunny spot and water as you would the parent Aloe.' Recommends Turner.

Chlorophytum Variegatum Spider plant in shady spot

(Image credit: Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash)

How to propagate Spider plants

'This plant is also very easy to propagate, and perfect for beginners. Simply wait until you have a new growth - the baby - and remove it from the mother plant. You can either directly plant it in its own pot, or to speed up the process, leave it in water until roots have grown, then repot it.'

Spider plant propagation in a clear jar

(Image credit: おにぎり on Unsplash)

How to propagate Devil’s Ivy

'This plant is not only one of the most popular houseplants in the world, but also a very undemanding one too. To propagate this plant, simply take a healthy stem with at least four to five leaves on it and snip it right below the leaf node. Once cut, place it in a jar of water and leave it for around three to four weeks until it develops roots of its own. Once you have roots, simply pot it in a new pot with compost, or add it to the mother plant to make it appear fuller.'

Devil's Ivy house plant

(Image credit: Amazon UK)

How long will propagated plants take to grow?

You should start to see movement of roots and establishment in a couple of weeks time but, it all depends on the plant, the technique you used and its growing environment! For best success, try propagating a few at a time.

Hey plant pups 🌿

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Camille Dubuis-Welch

Camille is Digital Editor at Realhomes.com and joined the team in January 2020. As an interior design aficionado, when she’s not developing evergreen content and furiously researching keywords, she is most definitely finding new ways to spruce up her rented space, usually involving a houseplant or two. She loves the challenge that comes with making a room look stylish and feel homely, and her ultimate goal is to renovate the house of dreams, somewhere marvellously sunny with a wild and lavish garden, of course.

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