Tips for Propagating Plants with Stem Cuttings

Plant cutting propagationA large number of container plants can be propagated by taking cuttings. Any plant that has woody or semi-woody stems can be propagated this way. Propagating plants by cutting is one of the easiest ways to grow new plants. If you see a plant you like, take a cutting and see what happens!


All you’ll need is a glass, a bright windowsill and a healthy container plant to take a cutting from. It is best to make a clean cut with sharp scissors or pruners, but if you see a plant out somewhere, you can use a fingernail or rip the plant. This may not work with delicate plants, but when it comes to plant stem cuttings, it’s always worth a try!

You can either take plant tip cuttings or section cuttings. Tip cuttings include the plant tip and a small portion of the plant's stem. A section cutting is at least a 3-inch section of a stem and a leaf joint or root node. When taking plant cuttings from the garden, find a stem with a healthy selection of leaves. Cut the stem several root nodes (leaf joints) down and remove the foliage near the bottom of the cutting. Place the cutting into a glass of tap water and put the cutting next to a window for several weeks. Once it has a healthy growth of roots, it can be carefully transplanted into potting soil and eventually placed outdoors in the container garden.

Tips for Taking Cuttings

  • Timing. The best time to take cuttings is usually in early summer when the plant is actively growing.
  • Rooting hormone. You can skip the rooting hormone step, especially if the plant can be propagated easily in tap water, but some plants may do better when first dipped in rooting hormone and then planted. Read the instructions of any rooting hormone you purchase.
  • Humidity. Sometimes plant  cuttings need more humidity and should be covered with clear plastic. Misting the cuttings with water will also help.
  • Provide enough light, but not too much. Plant cuttings will root slowly in low-light conditions, but they will also not do well in full sunlight. Find a nice bright spot indoors where plant cuttings can get bright light but not direct sun. A southern-facing window is a great spot for this.
  • Warm temperatures. Plant cuttings do best in temperatures of about 70 to 75 degrees. This is another reason why cuttings do better inside near a bright windowsill. Indoor temperatures are less harsh than outside.
  • Clean water. Replace the water for your plant cuttings often (every couple of days or so) for the best results. This way the water will be clean and more aerated than water that has been sitting there.

Easy Plants to Propagate with Cuttings

African violet
Wandering Jew

Additional information