Q: How can I learn how to propagate plants at home?
A: Plant propagation — breeding new specimens from parent plants— encompasses a wide variety of methods. The simplest form of plant reproduction is to plant seeds. After successfully planting seeds, consider challenging yourself to propagate from leaves, cuttings, or roots.
Layering is another method of propagation. Different methods of layering include tip layering, simple layering, air layering and mound layering. Division of bulbs, corms and tubers is yet another method.
Then there is shield budding, or, T-budding, and grafting: whip and tongue graft, cleft graft and bark graft.
These forms of propagation are not the sole domain of nurseries and universities. Many non-professional gardeners successfully employ various forms of propagation.
Many backyard breeders even hybridize roses, camellias, tomatoes and other plants. Successfully propagating a plant or a tree is one of the most satisfying things a gardener can achieve.
Although seed propagation is the simplest method, it is the least predictable.
Sterilized seeds sold by seed nurseries are predictable. In comparison, the pits and seeds that some gardeners sow may not reproduce exactly the same plants from which they came — or they may not germinate at all.
A healthy leaf with a few buds on the stem can reproduce in a soil-less medium such as moistened vermiculite or perlite. Cuttings of plants or shrubs can reproduce the same way. A leaf stem or cutting will grow fine roots that will enable you to transplant the plant into its new home.
You’ve probably seen a shrub with low branches touching the ground. A little dirt covers a part of a branch and it develops roots. You can then cut the branch off of the plant and plant the cutting in a soil-less medium, resulting in a new shrub.
That’s just one example of how simple layering can be.