How to Grow Plants From Stem Cuttings

Grow new plants from cuttings with these easy, fun (and practically-free) steps. Just clip a length of stem and watch the roots grow.

stem cuttings in vases of water
Photo: Marty Baldwin
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 weeks, 2 days
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

Instead of trimming a plant and throwing away the debris, make mindful cuts and create new plants from the mother plant. Growing from stem cuttings is easy if you know the right steps to take care of cuttings. With enough water and humidity, stem cuttings can create new pots of favorite plants that can add to a personal collection or be given away to friends and family.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Small knife
  • 1 Chopstick or pencil

Materials

  • 1 Small pots or cell packs
  • 1 Soilless seed-starting mix, equal parts peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, sterilized coarse sand
  • 1 Mother plant
  • 1 Rooting hormone powder
  • 1 Plastic bag and twist tie
  • 1 Water

Instructions

  1. Prep For Planting

    nonfowering stems from the mother plant

    Prepare nursery containers by filling small pots or cell packs with premoistened soilless medium. Potting soil and regular potting mix hold too much moisture. Select healthy, nonflowering stems from the mother plant for cuttings. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut a 3- to 4-inch shoot below a leaf node (the spot where a leaf emerges from a stem as shown). Cut off the bottom leaves of the shoot and snip off any flowers or buds. This prompts the plant to use its energy for rooting rather than growing leaves or flowers.

  2. Dip Into Rooting Hormone

    dipping cut end in dish with powdered rooting hormone

    Encourage root growth by dipping the cut end into powdered rooting hormone. Rooting hormones can be found at most gardening stores, or can be ordered online. Cover any cut parts with the powder.

  3. Create A Hole For Planting

    chopstick poking hold in potting soil

    Use a chopstick or a pencil to poke a planting hole in the damp soilless medium. We recommend poking a hole 1 to 2 inches deep to keep the stem cutting sturdy. Creating a hole for the stem cutting prevents the powdered hormone on the end from being disturbed during planting.

  4. Place Stem Cutting

    placing cutting into the planting hole
    Marty Baldwin

    Slide the cutting into the planting hole without knocking off the rooting powder. If the hole is too narrow, use the chopstick or pencil to widen the hole. Gently press the medium against the stem to keep it sturdy and upright in the pot.

  5. Create Humidity

    placing tie on plastic bag over nursery container

    Slip a plastic bag over the nursery container and twist tie the bag shut to create a humid, greenhouselike environment that will boost the cutting's growth. If the pot is small enough, a zip-top plastic bag will work just as well. Set cuttings in bright, indirect light.

    Related: Houseplant Humidity Guidelines

  6. Check The Roots

    pulling plant out to check root development

    A few weeks after taking a cutting, check its root development by gently tipping the container on its side and tapping out the soil and rootball. Be gentle with the roots, so as to not tear or break them. A new plant will be ready for transplanting when roots appear strong and have begun to fill out the inside of the nursery pot.

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