Turn Your Home into a Jungle for $0 with These 5 Super Easy-to-Propagate Houseplants

published Nov 13, 2021
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Credit: Kristan Lieb

If you’re looking to expand your houseplant collection but don’t have the money to keep buying more plants, great news: Propagating is totally free, making it the most affordable way to get new plants. You can propagate your own existing plants, or you can join an online plant propagation group and trade with your new friends. 

One of the coolest things about plant propagation is that it’s an assisted asexual means of reproducing your plant. That means that the prop will be genetically identical to its parent plant — so if you have a plant you love, propagating will help you get more of the same.

There are a few ways to propagate your plants, from taking cuttings to dividing plantlets from a parent plant. The mode of propagation has to do with the type of plant you have, so it’s always best to do a little research before you go chopping on your plant.

A quick heads-up: Note that any specific plants mentioned in this story or any others may be toxic if they’re consumed by a pet or human. “Toxic” plants can induce symptoms that range from mild (upset stomach) to severe (possible death). If you have a cat, dog, or kid, make sure you research the plants ahead of time on a reputable site like ASPCA.orgPetPoisonHelpline.orgPoison.org, or by calling your vet or pediatrician.

Credit: Marisa Vitale

Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantias in general are very easy to propagate, but the most popular is the Tradescantia zebrina. This species of spiderwort, also commonly known as the inch-plant, has the ability to grow and spread at a rapid rate without much hands-on care. 

The best way to propagate this plant is to take cuttings. While you can also propagate from root division, it’s much easier — not to mention less messy — to take a few cuttings, place them in a glass or bottle of water, and wait for the roots to sprout. In my own experience, I’ve seen roots pop out in as little as two or three days. Wait at least two weeks for the roots to develop before transplanting into soil. 

Credit: Amanda Archibald

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos plants are one of the most popular houseplants on the market because of their hardiness and their availability. They’re also very easy to propagate via cuttings. Similarly to tradescantias, a clean cutting in water will give you significant root growth. Pothos don’t push roots as quickly as tradescantias, so you’ll have to wait a week or two for a first peek at new roots — but they should be ready to plant after a month or so. 

Credit: Diana Paulson

Monstera deliciosa

The Monstera deliciosa has long been the darling of the houseplant world. After all, this plant has the capacity to grow so large indoors that you can create your own jungle in your living room if you have the time and space. Another great thing about monsteras, besides their size, is that they’re pretty easy to propagate.  

In order to do so effectively, you’ll need to know a few things. First, know where to find the plant’s nodes. A node is an area on the stem when active growth is happening; it almost looks like a bud, and it’s the area on the plant that will develop into leaves, stems, or aerial roots. When cutting for propagation, you’ll need to make sure your cutting ends below the node — not above or on it.

If you’re like me, you might try to prop a monstera with just a leaf cutting. Don’t waste your time — propagation won’t work unless you have a node on the cutting. 

On your plant, find the node and make a clean cut through the stem below the node. Get rid of any extra leaves if there are more than two or three. Extra leaves waste energy when you want the cutting to generate new root growth.

You’ll see the signs of roots after a few weeks, but expect to wait two or three months for the roots to be substantial enough to plant in soil. Remember to change the water every week or so to discourage rot.

Credit: ArtCreationsDesignPhoto/Shutterstock

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Propagation is what these plants are known for! Spider plants do the work for you because they produce their own baby plants — also known as pups or plantlets — at the end of their stems. 

You’ll notice that as the pups grow on the end of the runners, they will produce their own root systems. Once the pups grow a substantial root system, you can cut them off from the mother plant and put them in their own pot. That’s it!

Credit: Marisa Vitale

Pilea peperomioides

It wasn’t that long ago that we were paying top dollar to get our hands on a Pilea peperomioides, but now the market has calmed and we can go back to sharing free plant babies with each other. And really, it’s the most painless process. Pilea peperomioides are among the easiest plants to propagate because like spider plants, they produce their own plantlets along their base. Once the plantlets get to 2 to 3 inches in height, you can separate them from the mother plant and put them in a pot of their own.