Thrifty Gardening Tips: Plant Propagation

Here is Part 9 of The Home Garden's weekly series about gardening on a budget.

Plant propagation, at last, my favorite subject! I was saving the plant propagation post for the last few segments of this series on gardening cheap. Plant propagation is one of the most inexpensive ways to make more plants and expand your gardens. There are several methods of propagating plants and three of the most common ways are through through division, through layering, and through cuttings. Each of these methods has a few advantages that are worth looking at. Some of these methods will work for some plants but may not be effective for others. Here is a short summary of these methods. I'll follow-up on each of these methods individually over the following weeks.


Dividing plants is a very good method of propagation for many clump forming species of plants. Hostas, heucheras, daylilies, ornamental grasses, and many other perennials will not only tolerate but sometimes need to be divided. It is better to divide most plants in the spring when they are actively growing and the roots can take some abuse but some will successfully divide in the fall. You don't have to divide plants until they have developed a dead hole toward the center, but if you would like more plants faster, divide away!

Layering is a safe strategy for many plants. It involves burying a length of a low growing stem underneath the soil until it develops roots. Then the gardener can sever the new plant from the mother plant and plant somewhere else in the garden. To speed up the process the stem can be wounded and applied with rooting hormone but many plants naturally layer by themselves. Viburnums, forsythias, and azaleas are good candidates for layering along with many other shrubs. This is a safe method of propagation since the stem remains attached to the main plant until roots are formed. There is very little risk involved for the cuttings. The biggest disadvantage is that you can't make as many plants as you can with cuttings.

This is probably the area I have the most fun experimenting with in my garden. There are several different types of cuttings you can take from stem tips to basal root cuttings. Some plants take to cuttings readily while others can be a difficult challenge. Most perennials will easily work with stem tip cuttings or basal stem cuttings. Trees and shrubs can be more difficult, but if the plant creates suckers there may be good rooting material. My favorite shrub for propagating through cuttings is the red twig dogwood. I've found that they work best as hardwood cuttings done over winter. Salvias, verbena, Russian sage, catmint and many other perennials work well as stem tip cuttings.

Next week I'll talk more in detail about propagating plants with division. So stay tuned!

For More Thrifty Gardening Tips:

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 4: Think Small Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 5: Make Compost
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 6: Making a List
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 7: Know Thy Landscape
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 8: A Two Season Trick

Labels: ,