Thursday, March 5

How to Propagate Houseplants (more plants for free!)

You guys know I love low-budget home decor, and what's more low-budget than free? So today we're talking free houseplants! I'm going to show you how I propogate a few of my favorite houseplants to start brand new baby plants without paying a dime!

Did you catch my post last week about my top 6 favorite houseplants? It's a great place to start if you're looking for plants that are low maintenance and hard to kill. And this is a perfect follow up because guess what? All of my favorite plants can be propogated!

The best time to propogate is in the spring when plants are ready naturally ready to grow quickly... so get those pots ready, folks! It's almost time!

All these plants can be propogated with one of two methods: dividing or rooting. Both happen to be super simple, they just take a little time (you're growing new plants, after all!). If you're looking to get a big plant quickly then propogating probably isn't the best option for you, but if you're looking to slowly grow your collection (or sprout a few plants for friends) using what you already have? Then read on, friends! Here are the plants we'll be looking at today (although you can use these methods for many houseplants):
  1. Succulents
  2. Snake Plants
  3. Aloe
  4. Pothos
  5. Spider Plants


These are the most famous plants to propogate right now because they are so easy to start. At least, they're easy if you have a lot of sun. I think that's a key that gets brushed over pretty often when people talk about propogating succulents. They need a ton of indirect sunlight when they are first starting out, or you'll end up with sad, stringy little plants. But if you have a sunny window or a grow light, the only other things you need are a little pot of dirt and a leaf from your favorite succulent!

These baby sprouts are cute and compact, just like they should be.

The other thing about succulents in my experience is that they take a looong time to grow. Those little sprouts in the pic above are several months old and still so tiny, and it took several weeks before they even started to sprout. But this is all about the slow evolution of your indoor garden, so just sit back enjoy the process.!

To propogate a succulent, all you need to do is carefully remove a leaf from an adult succulent - just gently pull it away from the stem - and set it on top of the dirt in a small pot. Let it sit a few days before you water it so the end can start to dry out (this helps prevent rot), and then water it as often as needed to keep the soil slightly moist. And make sure you keep it in warm, indirect sunlight. That's it! In a few weeks you'll see roots start to sprout from the end of the leaf, then a new baby plant will start to grow!

This next picture shows the roots and baby plant sprouting from an old leaf, but it also shows how the baby sprout will grow all lanky if it doesn't have enough light:

"Leggy" baby sprout. I found this guy back behind my pots - he must have fallen down there when I was watering. He may be a bit lanky, but he grew this much without any soil or water! I didn't even know he was back there! That shows you just how easy it is to sprout these guys.

When I'm propogating succulents, I usually like to throw about three leaves in each pot just in case they don't all take. This process takes way to long to start over if I have a bad leaf! If they all grow you can move some to a new pot, discard the extras, or just let the little buddies keep growing together.

Also, I usually wait to propogate until I'm thinning out my succulents anyway. See how long this guys has grown? He definitely needs a trim:

For plants that have grown this out-of-control, I start by snapping off the top section:

The tops can be planted directly into a new pot and they'll just keep growing from there (wait a few days to water just like if you're starting from a leaf):

Then I snap off most of that long leggy part, leaving just the base in the pot. The base will sprout new leaves and start growing, too. Then I pop off any other leaves I want to start new plants with and discard the rest. I'll put the leaves into new pots, or just fit them in around my other succulents to share a pot.

Snake Plant

There are actually two different ways you can propogate a snake plant, depending on your snake plant situation. If you plant is large and has overgrown your pot you can divide it into smaller plants, but if it's still on the smaller side you can clip a leaf and root it!

As snake plants grow, they shoot up new sprouts from the roots and base of the plant like these:

Over time they can really fill in a pot and eventually need to be thinned out. This is a great time to divide them!

Carefully remove the plant from the pot and gently separate it into sections. If you need to, you can snap the big fat roots (see the section on the left?) to separate them:

Replant the sections in multiple pots with fresh soil (mixed with a little coarse sand to improve the drainage) and give them a drink:

Free watering can.

P.S. The new pot is actually an old water jug I found at the thrift store. It looks so cute on it's stand and I just turned it around so the water spout is hidden on the back.

I used a cheap/disposable pot inside (just like I do when I'm planting in baskets) and the jug acts as the tray to catch excess water.

If you have a smaller plant to propogate or just want to start more snake plants quickly, you can snip a leaf off near the base and set it in a jar with an inch or two of fresh water. Change the water every few days until the leaf sprouts roots, then plant it in a small pot of soil. If it's a long leaf you can even snip it into several pieces that are a few inches long and root each piece! Just make sure you pay attention to which end is the bottom when you put it in the water.

Snake plants do well in low light, but if you want to see more growth after dividing or rooting it's best to move them to a sunny spot until they are more established.


Aloe can also be propogated a couple different ways. Like the snake plant, it shoots up new sprouts from the root that can be divided and relocated to new pots (see the snake plant section above).

But you can also treat it like a succulent and root a leaf with a pot of soil (see succulent section above).

You can not, however, root it in a cup of water like a snake plant. You can divide it, or use the succulent instructions to root it. You have been warned.


Pothos is my favorite plant to start, because it looks beautiful the entire time. Unlike waiting months for a succulent leaf to sprout or rooting a chunk of a snake plant, a propogating pothos is a plant worthy of display!

Mama plant and baby plant.
To propogate a pothos, just snip off a piece of vine a few inches long (they say it should have at least four leaves, but I've had success with only two) and put it in a jar of fresh water. Then put that jar out where you can see it because it already looks like a beautiful baby plant.

Change the water every few days. After a week or so you should start to see roots:

And after a few weeks you'll have a good root system - and your plant will probably be growing new leaves already!

I've heard that some people just leave them in the glass jar and let them keep growing there!

Or you can go ahead and plant it in a small pot with soil.

Spider Plant

Spider plant is another fun one! The parent plant actually shoots out little baby plants on vines. So they are probably the single easiest plant to propogate! I've had my spider plants a little over a year and they are already starting to grow new baby plants.

Once the babies develop a little cluster of roots, you can snip them off and plant them in their own pots! All of my spider plants came from my sister's plant (in the photo above) and I brought them home in a little baggie to plant:

See the roots at the bottom?

Plant them in small pots with soil and water them whenever the soil starts to dry out. Like snake plants, these normally do well in low light but will benefit from extra sun while they get established.

Those are all the plants I've propogated so far, but I think most houseplants can be propogated using one of the two methods I used for all these plants (either dividing or rooting), although some are trickier than others. If you have a certain plant you want to try it with, a quick google search can get you going the right direction. 

Tiny helper re-potting and propogating last summer.

I already know what plant I'm going to try next - my beloved fiddle leaf fig! I've read that they are pretty easy to sprout by putting a leaf in a cup of water (much like a pothos). I guess we'll see!

Now I'd love to hear from you - have you ever propogated a plant? What are your favorites are which ones would you love to try?

Let me know if you give propogation a try!


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