Tip On Propagating Begonias From Cuttings

Begonia propagation is an easy way to keep a little bit of summer all year long. Begonias are a favorite garden plant for the shaded area of the garden and because of their low light requirements, gardeners often ask if it’s possible to keep the cheerful little plants overwintering indoors. You certainly can, but annuals often suffer shock when brought in from the garden or the plants grow leggy after their summer outdoors. Why not use your garden plants to start whole new plants for your winter window sills by propagating begonias?

Begonia Propagation Info

The three most popular types of garden begonias are the tuberous types, which are large leafed and sold either growing in pots or as brown tubers for do-it-yourself planting; the rhizomatous, commonly called Rex begonias; and the old fashioned wax, which are known as fibrous rooted. While professional growers use different methods for begonia propagation for each of these types, we home gardeners are fortunate that all three types can be easily duplicated trough begonia cuttings.

It’s easy to propagate begonias with simple cuttings and every experienced gardener tweaks the basic methods to suit their own talents. There are two basic ways to propagate begonias through begonia cuttings: stem and leaf. Why not try them both and see which one works best for you?

Begonia Propagation from Stem Cuttings

My mother, bless her, could root just about anything by cutting 4-inch stems and placing them in a juice glass with an inch of water. She’d sit the glass on the windowsill over the kitchen sink so she could keep an eye on the water level and add more as needed. In a little over a month, her begonia cuttings would be sprouting tiny roots and in two they’d be ready to pot. You can try this method for rooting begonias, too. There are drawbacks, however. The stems sometimes rot, especially if the sunlight is too direct, leaving a mushy goo in the glass; and tap water contains traces of chlorine, which can poison the young shoots.

For me, a more sure fire way of propagating begonias is to plant those four inch begonia cuttings directly into a growing medium. Rooting begonias this way gives me more control over the moisture content of the container. Use mature stems for cutting, but not so old they’ve become fibrous or woody. Cut just below a node. Carefully remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem. If you happen to have rooting hormone on hand, now is the time to dip the cut ends into the hormone. If you don’t have any, that’s okay too. Begonia propagation is just as easy without it.

Make a hole in your planting medium with a dibble stick (or if you’re like me, use that pencil sitting on the counter) and insert your stem into the hole. Tamp down the medium to hold the cutting upright. Rooting begonias aren’t fussy about the medium they’re grown in as long as it’s light and retains moisture.

Tips on Propagating Begonias from Cuttings

Many gardeners prefer to create a mini hothouse when they propagate begonias to keep the soil evenly moist. You can do this by covering the pot with a plastic bag or with a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off. A favorite of mine is to line your pot with a plastic bread bag with a few holes poked in the bottom for drainage. Fill with soil, plant, lift the sides of the bag up and secure with a plastic tie. You can regulate air flow and moisture by opening and closing the bag.

Propagate Begonias from a Single Leaf

For the larger leaved plants, begonia propagation can begin with a single leaf. With a sharp knife, cut a mature leaf from the plant where the leaf meets the stem. Now clip the cut end into a point. Follow the directions above only bury the petiole (leaf stem), not the leaf. Rooting begonias this way will give you a whole new plant grown from the roots that develop at the end of the petiole.

Whether you use these methods for a windowsill garden or to grow your own flats for next spring’s outdoor planting, or even to save that begonia stem that has been sacrificed to the wind, propagating begonias through stem or leaf is an easy way to save money and show off you green thumb.

Begonia Leaf CuttingsEasy Propagation Method

Begonia Leaf Cuttings are the easiest way to propagate these plants such as the beautifully foliaged Rex types as they really have no significant stems to work with.

I had several pots of Rex Begonias this summer that I grew outside for their coloured leaves and because they tolerate quite deep shade. I brought one of each type indoors for the winter but I need more to plant out next spring. Follow me as I use a variety of leaf cutting methods to create next year’s plants.
What Do I Need? I need a wide shallow pot filled with some soilless media and a plastic cover for it. A large takeout food container could work well. A sharp sterile knife or razor blade to make the required cuts and a warm well lit location are also essential. Fluorescent tubes are the best light as they will not generate too much heat while supplying more than enough light. The planting medium, perlite or a peat/perlite mix most be clean and sterile to stop the leaves from rotting before they root.
What Do I Cut? Select a healthy leaf from the Begonia and cut it from the plant, leaving 2 – 3 cm of stem (petiole). From here there are a couple of techniques that are used to produce roots and plantlets. The whole leaf technique can be used on large firm leaves and may produce several plantlets from each leaf. Turn the leaf over to reveal its prominent veins. Make a gentle cut that goes about ¾ of the way through that vein and then lightly dust the cut area with some rooting hormone. Insert the stem of the leaf into the planting media and press down so that the cut area is in contact with the soil. You can make sure this stays in contact by using a straightened paper clip as a peg to hold the leaf in place.

Begonia Leaf Cuttings
Wedge Technique

Remove the leaf as in the whole leaf technique then trim the leaf to make a triangle with the stem at one of the points and about 1/3 of the leaf rising above that. Insert the stem and a small portion of the leaf bade into the planting medium. Rooting hormone is helpful but not necessary. Alternately you can roll the leaf into a cone shape with the stem at the point and insert the stem and a bit of the cone into the medium and fill the inside of the cone with the medium to the same depth as it is inserted. These methods will produce new plantlets a bit sooner but you only get one new plant from each cutting.
Light and Moisture? Make sure the soil and leaf are well moistened and then put the plastic lid on top to keep the humidity at 100%. Place it in a well lit location but not in direct sunlight. Sunlight would generate too much heat under the lid and cook the leaves. Check every few days to make sure it is still moist and sprinkle additional water in if needed. After a few weeks you should have small begonia plants developing at the cuts. Separate these gently when they are big enough and pot them up to grow on for next spring. This works most of the time and there is a great feeling of gardening success when you are planting the little plants you have produced from your Begonia leaf cuttings.
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The Begonia House at the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Each year the National Garden Bureau declares a “year of” that features four plants: one vegetable, one perennial, one annual, and for the first time in 2016, one bulb. We looked at the Year of the Carrot earlier in the month. Now let’s look at this year’s annual, the begonia. In coming weeks, I’ll look into the other two winners.


The genus Begonia has a pantropical distribution.

With more than 1,700 species, Begonia is the fifth largest genus of flowering plants in the world, with almost an almost pantropical distribution: South and Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The genus was named by the French botanist Charles Plumier for his friend, Michel Bégon, governor of the island of Saint Domingue (now Haiti) and a serious amateur botanist.

What is a Begonia?

The genus is composed of a wide range of mainy herbaceous plants (a few are semi-woody), including some with rhizomes and tubers, most adapted to moist tropical or subtropical climates. Nearly 15,000 hybrids of these popular plants exist. Although a very few species show some adaptation to temperate climates (B. grandis, for example, is hardy to zone 6b), most are grown as houseplants or as bedding plants, treated, in the latter case, as annuals in cold climates. They are also grown as perennials in hardiness zone 10 and above. Some begonias are grown mainly for their beautiful, often exotically colored foliage, others for their attractive, abundant and long-lasting flowers.

Most gardeners with a bit of experience can recognize a begonia on sight, but here are few pointers for beginners:

  • Leaves are often wing-shaped.

    The leaves are alternate and usually asymmetrical (they are often ear-shaped or wing-shaped);

  • There are usually distinct nodes (bumps) on the stem;
  • The flowers are quite distinctive, with two opposite sepals much larger than the pair of much smaller petals, borne at right angles to the sepals. This is however really only obvious with single flowers.
  • Winged ovaries

    Female flowers have a winged ovary behind their tepals. It usually has three wings.

Begonia flowers are monoecious (male and female flowers appear separately but on the same plant). Its winged ovary readily distinguishes the female flower from the male flower. If the female flower is fertilized, the ovary becomes a capsule filled with numerous very fine seeds that, in nature, are carried far and wide by the wind, ensuring the species’ survival. Many species are epiphytes and grow on tree branches or trunks.


Horticulturists like to put plants into categories, but begonias have always given both taxonomists and gardeners a hard time. After all, how can you bring order to chaos? Some botanists accept no less than 87 sections in the genus, while some horticultural classifications include dozens of groups. However, begonias, even from different continents and with different numbers of chromosomes, will often readily cross, so many plants have traits belonging to two different classes and sections and thus fall through the cracks.

Here is a simplified classification that might be useful for the ordinary gardener, although it is certainly too simple for serious begonia collectors.

A. Fibrous-rooted Begonias

This category is a bit of a misnomer: all begonias have fibrous roots. However, it is commonly used to describe all begonias that have only fibrous roots, therefore neither rhizomes nor tubers. Fibrous-rooted begonias can be short to tall and may be grown for their foliage or their flowers.

A1. Wax Begonias (B. x semperflorens-cultorum)

Begonia x semperflorens ‘Ambassador Green Leaf’

Traditionally, this group includes only one hybrid species: B. x semperflorens-cultorum, the popular wax or bedding begonia. This is a relatively compact plant with erect stems and glossy, somewhat spoon-shaped leaves, green or bronze in color. The flowers are small but numerous, in various shades of pink, red and white.

For convenience sake, I like to include two more recent introductions in this category: so-called B. x benariensis (I’m far from sure the name is botanically valid) such as the ‘Big’ series (plants twice as large as the usual B. x semperflorens-cultorum, but otherwise very similar) and Dragon Wing and Baby Wing series, with arching stems and wing-shaped leaves.

Begonia ‘Dragon Wing Red’ falls between the cracks: it behaves and is used like a wax begonia, but has leaves like an angel wing begonia.

These begonias are usually produced by seeds and treated as annuals, but you can also multiply them by division or stem cuttings. You can also prolong their life by moving them indoors in the fall to serve as houseplants.

A2. Other Fibrous-rooted Begonias

Typically begonia authorities divide this group into many subcategories, such cane-like begonias, shrub-like begonias, thick-stemmed begonias and trailing or scandent begonias. However so few are available through in the average garden center that I find this creates confusion rather than simplifying things, so I prefer to lump them all together into a single category.

Fibrous begonia ‘Lucerna’: a popular hand-me-down houseplant.

Often these begonias have erect stems, although often arching at the tip, stems with very obvious knots and highly asymmetric, wing-shaped leaves (they are often simply called “angelwing begonias” for that reason), although there are many exceptions: plants with climbing or pendant stems or with leaves that are star-shaped or even compound. Their foliage is often the main attraction: it often shiny, hairy, purple, red, or dotted with silver. The flowers tend to be small and usually pink, red or white, rarely orange. Some species branch abundantly, others tend to produce few ramifications, even when you pinch them.

Usually these begonias are grown as houseplants in temperate climates, although they also do wonderfully planted outdoors for the summer. In the Tropics, they are treated as perennials or small shrubs.

Fibrous-rooted begonias are usually multiplied by stem cuttings or by division.

B. Rhizomatous Begonias

These begonias have a rhizome: a usually creeping stem (although some rhizomes are upright) that root in contact with the soil as they grow. The plants tend to get wider as they age, but to remain low growing. This category is traditionally divided into 2 parts: rhizamotous begonias per se (a sort of holdall category) and rex begonias.

B1. Rhizomatous Begonias

Rhizomatous begonia Begonia heracleifolia nigricans is one of the rare begonias with star-shaped leaves.

This is the largest category of begonias, with hundreds of species and thousands of cultivars. Most are fairly compact plants (but there are also varieties with very large leaves), often with round or star-shaped foliage. The flowers are usually pink or white and tend to bloom during the winter, since most require short days in order to bloom. Most are mainly grown for their attractive and often very colorful foliage.

Until recently these begonias were generally considered houseplants, but gardeners have begun to discover they also make excellent annuals for shady flowerbeds.

This group is usually multiplied by stem cuttings, leaf cuttings or division.

B2. Rex Begonias

A few examples of the variety in Begonia x rex-cultorum.

This subcategory of rhizomatous begonia includes hybrids derived from the long-lost species B. rex crossed with other begonias. The resulting hybrid species is called B. x rex-cultorum. The foliage of rex begonias is particularly colorful, coming in all imaginable shades of green, red, silver, purple, brown and pink, often with metallic highlights. Originally rex begonias had leaves that were more or less ear-shaped, but there are now varieties with star-shaped and even spiral leaves. Although most have creeping rhizomes, some do have upright ones. These begonias are normally grown uniquely for their foliage and little attention is paid to their rather sparse white or pink flowers.

Rex begonias are propagated in the same ways as other rhizomatous begonias and require much the same care. They are however considered harder to grow well, especially over time. Many varieties go into a sort of semi-dormancy in the winter, losing many or most of their leaves. If so, temporarily reduce their watering, letting the soil dry out more than usual, while still maintaining good atmospheric humidity. Start watering more abundantly when the plant shows signs of new growth.

Long considered houseplants, rex begonias have begun to star in shadier parts of the summer garden in recent years.

C. Tuberous begonias

These begonias have a tuber, an underground organ much like a potato, and differ from most other begonias in that they go fully dormant for months, losing both leaves and stems.

C1. Hybrid Tuberous Begonias (B. x tuberhybrida)

Begonia x tuberhybrida ‘Mocha NonStop’

This is the classic large-flowered tuberous begonia gardeners have salivated over for generations. Most have extremely double, extremely large flowers (up to dinner plate size!) and come in a variety of colors: pink, red, yellow, purple, white, orange, etc. Often the flowers are bi-colored or have fringed margins. The stems may be upright or drooping, the latter often used in hanging baskets. There are dozens of classifications for these begonias (Picotee, Fimbriata, Pendula, Crispa, etc.), but you don’t need to know how to classify them in order to grow them!

The very popular ‘NonStop’ series, used extensively in flowerbeds worldwide, belongs to the Multiflora division, famous for flowers that are somewhat smaller that most other tuberous begonias (although much larger than those of other types of begonia), but as the name suggest, are produced profusely through the entire summer.

Begonia tuber

This begonia goes fully dormant in the fall and starts to grow again in the spring. Traditionally the tuber is dug up after the leaves are killed by frost, then kept dry and fairly cool during the winter. They can be stored in vermiculite, peat, sawdust, or newspaper or, if you grow them in pots, just pile the pots one on top of the other in a dark corner. The tubers start to sprout all on their own towards the end of the winter. Repot and start watering them in March or April, about 1-2 months before its time to plant them out.

Multiplication: seed and stem cuttings. You can try dividing larger tubers, but the cut surface often fails to heal properly, which can lead to rot.

C2. Bolivian Begonia (B. boliviensis and its hybrids)

Everything old is new again. My father used to grow this begonia when I was a young child, then it seemed to disappear from the market for decades. It suddenly came into prominence again around 2007 when the cultivar ‘Bonfire’, with orange-red flowers, very much like the old plants I remembered, was introduced. There are now many other varieties in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink and white. The leaves are long and narrow and the flowers have long pointed tepals, giving a tubular flower that hummingbirds love. This cliff-dwelling species has a naturally trailing habit, but there are now more upright cultivars and ones with more open, less tubular flowers.

This begonia goes fully dormant in the fall. Its tuber can be huge! Maintenance and multiplication is exactly like hybrid tuberous begonias and it fact, it is one of the parent species of this group.

C3. Hiemalis Begonia (B. x hiemalis)

Begonia ‘Dragone White Blushing’

This hybrid species often goes under the names Rieger begonia or Elatior begonia after two hybrid series that were once very popular. Hiemalis means “of winter” and these plants are naturally winter blooming. They come from a cross between summer-flowering tuberous begonias and the rarely grown winter-flowering species, B. socotrana. Despite their theoretical winter bloom, nurseries now offer hiemalis begonias all year long, even as bedding plants for the summer garden. This is done by offering the plants artificially short days. Indeed, once flowering is initiated under short days, the plant will continue to flower for 3 to 4 months even under long days, a technique that makes this plant a very good choice for the summer garden.

The flowers are smaller than those of most tuberous begonias, although larger than other begonia types. They are usually double and come in almost every color except blue. Modern hybrids bloom so profusely that you can scarcely see the foliage! After flowering, the stems start to die back. Ideally, you should cut the plant back at this point and let it rest for 5 or 6 weeks before starting another growing cycle… but hiemalis begonias are notoriously difficult to recuperate at the end of their season, so most gardeners simply buy new plants every year.

Propagation is by stem cuttings… but you may struggle trying to keep the cuttings alive.

C4. Lorraine or Christmas Begonia (B. x cheimantha)

Begonia x cheimantha

This begonia results from a cross between the winter-flowering B. socotrana and the semi-tuberous B. dregei. The first cultivar was named ‘Gloire de Lorraine’, hence the common name Lorraine begonia. And it is also called Christmas begonia because of its early winter blooming period. Its abundant simple flowers are usually pink or white. Propagation is by stem cuttings… but as with the hiemalis begonia, it is not easy to maintain this plant from one year to the next. This begonia has largely been replaced in garden centers by the hiemalis begonia.

C5. Semi-tuberous Begonias

Begonia dregei

The most common species in this category is B. dregei, a species with a swollen stem base (caudex) and small white flowers, often used in bonsai. With its small leaves and decent branching habit (a bit of pinching will be needed), it looks like a small tree even if its stems are not truly woody. This begonia goes semi-dormant in winter: cut back on watering at that time. Propagation by stem cuttings and seeds.

General Begonia Culture

With such a wide range of different plants, you’d expect to need a lot of varied instructions on how to cultivate them all, but in fact, most begonias do best under pretty similar conditions… as long as you respect their growing season, because some, as mentioned, go dormant and don’t need light or watering for months on end.

In general, begonias prefer partial shade and many will tolerate full shade. Over time, however, many sun-tolerant tuberous and wax begonias have been developed and they do well in full sun, at least in northern regions. Give your begonias rich, loose, well-drained soil, moderate watering (only during the growing season, of course) and decent atmospheric humidity (indoors) and you should have no trouble growing them. They grow as easily in pots (indoors or out) as in the ground. Regular fertilization (during the growing season, of course) will stimulate better bloom, especially for plants grown in pots outdoors and therefore exposed to rain (rain, as wonderful as it may be for plants, has the annoying habit of leaching container soil of all its minerals). In the fall, except in hardiness zones 10-12, almost all begonias will need to move indoors if you want to save them from the cold.

Asexual Propagation

The easiest and quickest method of multiplying begonias is by stem cuttings, a technique that works with almost all varieties. Simply slip a 3 or 4 inch (8-10 cm) section of stem into damp soil, keep the mix moist and the air humid for a few weeks and you’ll soon have a new plant.

Rhizome cuttings are just as easy, the only difference being that you press the rhizome horizontally into the growing mix rather than placing it upright.

You can multiply many begonias (especially rhizomatous begonias, including rex begonias) by leaf cuttings as well.

Leaf section cuttings.

Take a healthy leaf and insert its petiole into a pot of moist growing mix. No rooting hormone is necessary, but high humidity helps. Thus, it is wise to cover the pot with a transparent plastic bag. Place the cutting in a moderately lit spot and at fairly warm temperatures (21˚C or more)… and wait. A small plant will sprout from the soil after a month or two.

If you need many plants, you can even use leaf sections as cuttings. To do so, cut a leaf into pieces, each with a small bit of midrib or primary vein, and press the sections into moist growing mix. Alternatively, press an entire leaf flat against the soil and cut its veins with a knife: a baby plant will soon poke out of each cut vein.

Sexual Propagation

Begonias are notoriously difficult to grow from seed. The extremely fine seed gives seedlings that are tiny and very fragile at first, and their growth can be slow. It’s often more logical to buy trays of plants in the spring instead of trying to start them yourself. However, if you want to try growing begonias from seeds, here’s how:

You’ll need to so the seeds of begonias you want to plant out very early in the season, in January or February. At that season, however, days are still short, yet begonias need good light to germinate. As a result, germination can be poor or irregular and initial growth almost nil. That’s why it’s best to start begonias under lights, as that gives you full control of day length. Use a timer to set your lamp to 14 hour days: that will ensure good germination and equal growth. Especially don’t expose tuberous begonia seedlings to short days, as they are long day plants and therefore need days longer than 12 hours in order to bloom. In fact, if tuberous begonia seedlings are exposed to short days, that will stimulate tuber formation and put an end to their growth for the season, long before they have time to bloom..

Pelleted seeds on the left, natural begonia seeds on the right.

Most begonia seeds sold today are pelleted seeds, making them easier to handle. On the other hand, pelleted seeds are also much more expensive.

To sow the seeds, fill a pot or seed tray with moist potting mix, level, and apply the seeds to the surface. Press them lightly into the mix without covering them with soil, because begonia seeds need light to germinate. Spray the container with warm water and put the seed container in a clear plastic bag or inside a mini-greenhouse.

Place the container in about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) below a fluorescent lamp. Its gentle heat will help germination, as it should remain above 72˚F (21˚C) day and night. In 7-14 days, sometimes longer, you should see very tiny green leaves appear. At that point, remove the bag or dome to increase air circulation.

Transplant the seedlings in small individual pots when they have two or three leaves. Keep the soil slightly moist (you have to water very gently, preferably from below, as water pouring from the watering can’s spout can easily knock over or bury fragile young seedlings). Also, fertilize occasionally with a soluble fertilizer.

When outdoor temperatures remain above 50˚F (10˚C), acclimate the seedlings to garden conditions and transplant them, preferably into partial shade. Or continue to grow them indoors if you want to use them as houseplants.

Fun Facts About Begonias

  • The tuberous begonia ‘Kimjongilia’ is one of North Korea’s floral emblems. It blooms annually on the birthday of the country’s late president, Kim Jong-il.
  • Only male flowers of tuberous begonias have double flowers. Begonia experts remove the female flowers to give male flowers more energy to bloom.
  • Begonia flowers are edible and in fact very rich in vitamin C. Their pleasant sweet/tart taste comes from the oxalic acid they contain, the same product that gives spinach and rhubarb their flavor. Since oxalic acid can be toxic if consumed in large quantities, it is best to consume begonia flowers in moderation.
  • In the language of flowers, begonia means “beware”.
  • Begonia seeds are among the smallest in the vegetable kingdom. One gram of begonia seeds can produce up to 100,000 seedlings!

    Begonia floral carpet in Brussels.

  • Every two years, in August, the Grand Place in Brussels is covered with a huge carpet of tuberous begonia flowers. It takes 120 volunteers about 4 hours and about 600,000 begonia flowers to compose the carpet. The show is spectacular, but don’t miss your flight, as it lasts only three and a half days!

Snake Plant Propagation – How To Propagate Snake Plants

Snake plants bring to mind visions of Medusa and are also called mother-in-laws tongue. The plant features sword-shaped leaves — smooth and almost waxy. The easy nature of snake plant care makes it perfect for almost any interior situation and a visually striking and tenacious specimen. The plants are perfect gifts to share with the garden-challenged, as they thrive on neglect and rise above abuse. Learn how to propagate snake plants so you can share this amazing and versatile houseplant.

Basic Snake Plant Care

The snake plant is flexible about lighting and humidity but it is fussy about the amount of water it gets. About the only thing that will kill a mother-in-law tongue is overwatering. It thrives in small pots with crowded rhizomes and has few pest or disease problems.

It is not necessary to fertilize, but if you feel like doing something nice for the plant, use a half dilution of houseplant food once a month during the growing season. These invaluable plants clean the air and enhance the home with tropical beauty. Spread the love by propagating snake plants and give your friends and neighbors a special treat.

How to Propagate Snake Plants

Learning how to propagate snake plants is easy. It’s true that too much water can kill your plant, but rooting a snake plant in water is one of the most foolproof methods. You can also root the plant from cuttings, but the fastest way to get a new snake plant is to divide it. The plant grows out from rhizomes which mass together and multiply as the plant gets older. This method is no different than the one you use on your old perennials in the garden. Pick a method of snake plant propagation and let’s get to making babies.

Rooting a Snake Plant in Water

Choose a container tall enough to hold the leaf. Select a healthy leaf that is not too old and use clean, sharp shears to cut it off. Put the cut end of the leaf in just enough water to cover the bottom quarter of tissue. Place the container in an indirect light situation and change the water every couple of days. Soon you will see little roots. Plant the rooted leaf in sand or peat moss and follow usual snake plant care.

Propagating Snake Plants with Cuttings

This method is really no different than the water method, but it skips a step. Let the cut leaf callus over for a day or two, then insert the cut end into lightly moist sand in a container. Wait a couple of weeks and the plant will root on its own.

Snake Plant Propagation from Division

The mother-in-law tongue plant rises from thick, under-the-soil organs called rhizomes. These house the energy for leaf and stem growth. Pull the plant from its pot and use sharp shears or a hand saw to cut the base apart into sections. Usually just cut it in half unless the plant is really old and has masses of rhizomes. A good rule of thumb is at least three rhizomes plus one healthy leaf per new plant. Plant each new section in fresh potting medium.

This post shares all about how to propagate snake plants, including how to propagate snake plant cuttings in water and how to propagate snake plants in soil. This post also contains affiliate links, which you can read more about here. Thanks for your support!

How to propagate snake plants: 4 Ways

Hey all, this post is a follow-on to my how to care for your snake plant post! Now that you have all of the care tips, let’s talk about how to propagate snake plants. Snake plants are one of the absolute best plants to propagate. It’s easy, but there are four different ways to do so: by rhizome, by division, by cuttings rooted in well-draining soil, and by cuttings rooted in water. (See my DIY succulent soil recipe here.)

If you want to learn more about propagating snake plants, you might also enjoy my posts about how to propagate golden pothos from cuttings, how to care for pothos plants, and how to propagate prickly pear cactus pads.

1. Propagating Snake Plants by Rhizome Cuttings

One way to propagate snake plants is by rhizome. Rhizomes are the whiteish root-like stem structures that connect the mother plant to its new babies. The rhizomes spread just above or below ground and sprout new plants. (I have never had a rhizome grow above the soil in my potted snake plants.)

I’ve taken a few pics of a small rhizome starting to sprout from the mother plant below. They kind of look like garlic at this point. To propagate a snake plant by rhizome, use a clean, sharp knife to cut the rhizome off of the main plant. Best practice is to let the rhizome callous over for a few days before planting it.

You can actually see two rhizomes in the picture above. The big one near the bottom, and another slightly pointy one in the middle of the root ball. Maybe even more. It’s hard to tell with the perlite mixed in.

Here are two more photos of what things look like below the surface of a snake plant:

Here are another two photos of what those rhizomes will look like when they start sprouting back up through the soil. This plant is actually the one in the plywood planter downstairs—the one I divided in half (see later in this post!). So it’s doing really great. In the second picture below, I’ve dug some of the dirt out so you can see what it looks like a bit better.

2. Splitting a Snake Plant

If you have a very large snake plant, the best method is likely to propagate it by division. This is similar to propagating it by rhizome and is the method I used recently on my very large snake plant in the living room. The first photo below is the plant before I divided it.

It’s beautiful, but it was getting really big and some of the interior leaves weren’t doing as well. So I decided to divide it. I took the entire plant out on a tarp in the living room, brushed off the dirt, and found that the plant was connected by two very large rhizomes.

So essentially this snake plant was two very large plants connected by a massive u-shaped rhizome. I couldn’t even tell which one was the mother plant! There were also loads of smaller rhizomes (the kind you’d cut off in the previous example). I simply cut the plant in half at the main rhizome and gently separated all of the roots. Then I replanted them.

Again, best practice is to wait a few days for the freshly cut bottom to harden over a bit. But I didn’t want dirt hanging out everywhere on the floor for a few days, so I just repotted half the plant back in the white pot (second pic below) and the other half in my new modern hairpin leg planter build (third pic)! They are both still doing great.

3. Propagating a Snake Plant in Water

This method is easiest but generally takes the longest. I like to propagate snake plant cuttings by rooting them in water when one plant has a wonky leaf I want to snip off. I simply cut the leave off down near the soil and put it in water. Mason jars or vases are both good options, especially since the cuttings can sometimes be top heavy.

I keep mine in indirect light and change the water every week or so when I water my plants. You can plant your cutting when roots begin to sprout. The first photo below is a slim vase I use for snake plant cuttings a lot. The second photo shows what one of the cuttings looks like after about a month of rooting. I told you it could take a while! To be fair, though, I have these in a really low light area.

(Note: I have actually cut pieces and stuck them right back into soil as test. They not only lived but thrived and blended right in with the plant I added them to!)

4. Rooting Snake Plants With Cuttings in Soil

To propagate a snake plant using cuttings, snip a leaf off of an existing plant. Cut it off near the soil line. Then cut that leaf in to smaller pieces a few inches long. Note: It’s very important to keep track of which end was the bottom. They won’t grow if you put the top end down in the soil.

Let the cut leaf callus over for a few days, then plant each cutting with the right end down in well-draining soil. They’ll begin to root, but it can take a month or so to root and then another month to get new leaf growth. But it’s a really affordable way to start tons of new plants if you have patience!

Here’s an update of a few of these cuttings a few months later. It took about 4 months for the cuttings to root and begin to sprout new growth—new plants! Once I saw the new growth sprouting, I pulled the cuttings out and cut down the original cutting, burying it in fresh soil. Now we wait for the new plants to emerge!

Now that you know all the different ways to propagate snake plants, you can fill every room in your house with them for FREE. You’re welcome! 🙂

Share my tips on how to propagate snake plants on Pinterest!

I love Sansevierias and I know I say that about a lot of plants but these spiky numbers really have a place in my heart. I grow them in the garden and in my house in both pots and in the ground.

They have quite a few common names so you may know them as Snake Plants, Mother In Law Tongue, Snake’s Tongue, Bowstring Hemp Plant and Devil’s Tongue. Whatever you choose to call it, just know that they’re so very easy to propagate.

Today I want to share with you 3 ways to propagate a Snake Plant.

Sansevierias grow from rhizomes which eventually root, and in my garden, they like to travel like crazy. You can also grow them from seed (if you can find it) but it’s not nearly as easy to do or as fast as these other methods. Even though these plants are native to the subtropics and the tropics, they thrive in our dry homes which lack that humidity. They make one mighty fine houseplant!

Want to see how I do it? Then click on the video:

This is you need for successful Sansevieria propagation:

Soil: A nice light medium which drains well is idea. I always use an organic succulent & cactus mix but a good potting soil will do too.

Light: Make sure it’s bright but just know that direct, hot sun is not good.

Water: You don’t want to keep your cuttings or divided plants wet because they will rot out. So, lightly moist but not wet is the ticket. Propagation is best done indoors or on a covered porch so rain won’t mush them out either.

Timing: Propagation is best done in spring but summer & fall are fine too. Just avoid doing it in winter when the plants are resting.

Here are the methods to propagate sansevierias aka snake plants:

By The Rhizomes Which Spread

As you can see in the picture, the single Sansevieria plant in the foreground is creeping through my garden. It’s attached to the mother plant in the back by that “whiteish-grey” rhizome and there’s another smaller plant forming to the right of it. By the way, I often call them rhizomatic roots but a rhizome is actually a modified stem which grows under or very close to the ground. There, I stand corrected … by myself!

What I do is cut them off very close to the plant itself & then let the rhizome heal off for 2-3 days before I plant it. Sometimes the rhizome will have roots already formed & sometimes they’re just starting to bulge out. Use a knife or pruners to do this – just make sure whatever you’re using is clean and sharp.

I took these out of my garden which you’ll see in the video. The cut rhizome is in the foreground. The plant on the left only has roots starting to swell at the bottom whereas the 1 on the right has roots already formed. These 2 were growing side by side but you never know with plants!

By Division

This is the plant in the video which I dug up and divided. It fell into pieces on it’s own but I’ve divided Sansevierias which have given me a much harder time. For those, I used a clean trowel, knife, pruners and/or a hand fork. How many plants you get of course depends on the size of the 1 that you’re dividing.

By the way, Sansevierias love to be potbound so don’t rush to divide it.

By Leaf Cuttings

For some reason we missed a picture of this 1 but you can clearly see it in the video. This isn’t my preferred method of propagation but it’s worth a mention. It’s not as easy, fast or successful as the other 2 mentioned above. It’s best done on the Sansevierias with solid leaf color because any variation (especially those margins) will be lost.

If you’re game to try it, once again make sure your knife is very clean and sharp. It’s also very important to plant those cut leaf sections in the direction that the leaf has been growing. You’ll see clearly se what I mean and the trick I use to make sure the proper end is planted in the video. If you don’t plant the right end, it won’t grow. By the way, it’s best to let the leaf sections heal off for a couple of days before you plant them.

The plant was so heavy & the soil so light that I have to use a stake to get it to stay up straight!

Whatever method of propagation you choose, having more Sansevierias is a very good thing. I’m moving to a new home soon and can’t wait to get many more varieties of Snake Plants. They’re so easy to care for that there’s never too many!

Happy gardening,

Sansevieria Propagation in Soil and Water

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.

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Plant propagation is a fun and rewarding way to learn about your plants, and it also helps to increase your collection while minimizing cost! You can use it to create more plants for yourself, or to share as gifts with friends and family. Not to mention, it is really fun to do! There are so many ways to propagate houseplants, all depending on the type of plant that you have. Snake plant propagation by leaf cuttings is fun and easy to do.

You can propagate various types of plants by division, air layering, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, etc. Not to mention water propagation versus soil propagation.

In this article, I will focus on propagating Sansevieria with leaf cuttings in soil.

I will also update this post regularly to show the progress of the cuttings. So if you are not subscribed to my blog, make sure to subscribe by email to stay up to date!

When I first posted this topic as an Instagram story (you can find me @ohiotropics on Instagram where I post photos and houseplant tips daily), there were a lot of questions. So I decided to document the process in this post.

Taking a Leaf Cutting

The first thing you’ll need to do is a choose a leaf from your Sansevieria to cut off and propagate. I have several Sansevieria plants, but I wanted to propagate one in particular.

I found a beautiful specimen on a clearance rack for $5. It looked like it had suffered some abuse and had some leaves that were damaged. Right off the bat, I decided that I should cut the ugly leaves off and propagate them.

Normally for succulents, I recommend letting the cuttings dry out for a few days to allow the cut to callous over and dry. This prevents rotting.

In the case of Sansevieria, since the leaves really aren’t particularly juicy, you are OK to skip this step. You can still allow the callouses to form if you’d like.

Critical Steps for Sansevieria Leaf Cuttings

Be sure you read this section carefully. I’ve included a diagram as well to visually show it since it can be confusing to explain with just words.

First choose the leaf you want to propagate and cut it off with a pair of sharp scissors. Next, you will cut that leaf into a few segments. You’ll want each segment to be at least 2-3 inches long or so.

The critical part to follow is that as you cut the leaf segments, you need to keep track of the part of the leaf segment that was closest to the soil. You can NOT turn the leaf segment upside down and then insert that into the soil. It will NOT root.

If you are worried that you will mix them up, cut a little notch on the corner of the leaf segment so that you know which end to insert into the soil.

Look closely at the photo above. The area labeled “yes” is where I made the first cut on the leaf. You can not turn this segment upside down and insert it into the soil for propagation!

The same goes for all the other segments that you cut on the same leaf. The leaf segment needs to remain in the same orientation as it was originally growing on the plant.

So the part of the leaf segment that was originally closest to the pot will be the end that you will insert into the soil for propagation.

Notice that I also cut another leaf segment from the same leaf. Similarly, the bottom of that leaf segment will be the end that I will insert into the soil.

I chose this leaf because it was ugly and damaged when I purchased the plant, so I figured I’d cut it off to improve the appearance of the original plant, and also to propagate!

Propagating Variegated Sansevieria

Please note that if you have a variegated Sansevieria, the leaf cutting propagation method will NOT result in variegated plants. It will revert to the non-variegated version of the plant.

Some varieties of Sansevieria have yellow or whitish stripes on the leaf margins. In these cases, if you want more variegated plants, you’ll need to divide the original plant.

When you use this leaf segment method to propagate, the resulting plants will be plain green. In my case, this is not a variegated plant so my resulting Sansevieria children should be the same as the parent plant.

After You Have Cut Your Leaf Segments

After you have followed the steps above, it is almost time to place them into soil. A have a few product recommendations (see below) that I love using and can be found on Amazon. Follow these steps:

Dip the end of each leaf segment into water, and then into rooting hormone. You don’t HAVE to use a rooting hormone, but it will GREATLY speed up the process!

I like to use Garden Safe Take Root Rooting Hormone. It gives great results and helps speed up the process!

Fill a pot with soil and water thoroughly first in order to pre-moisten the soil before inserting the leaf segments into it. A succulent/cactus soil mix will work best.

I really like Hoffman Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil Mix. I use it for propagation purposes and anytime I repot any cacti or succulents. In addition to this soil mix, I like to mix in a little perlite or pumice for additional porosity and drainage.

I like to add perlite or pumice to all my houseplant soil blends, not just for Sansevieria! You will love what it does!

Insert the appropriate end of each leaf segment into the soil, maybe 1/2 inch to 3/4 inches into the soil.

Now it’s time to wait for Sansevieria babies to emerge! Place the pot in an area with bright indirect light, and even a little direct sun is fine!

Wait until the soil is nearly dry before watering again thoroughly.

Keep an eye out for new growth in the ensuing weeks and months.

The time that it takes can vary drastically…but for me, it took 7 1/2 months for a pup to finally emerge! It is a true test of patience!

And a few months later, all of the leaves have grown new pups.

You can also root Sansevieria in water. This is actually a quicker method and I wrote a blog post on water propagation of snake plants. Although soil propagation takes longer, it is a bit less maintenance.

For more details on general Sansevieria care, click HERE to read my blog post.

Have you every propagated Sansevieria? Comment below!

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant

Sansevieria is an awesome plant and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, making it perfect for indoor growing. If you want a plant-it-and-forget-about-it houseplant, then this is the one for you.

The common names for Sansevieria are rather tongue in cheek – mother-in-law’s tongue and snake plant. I mean, really, who came up with these names? I certainly wouldn’t want to call it that in front of my mother-in-law.

Taking Leaf Cuttings

Mother-in-law tongue is also pretty darn easy to propagate from leaf cuttings. When I started these leaf cuttings, I cut the leaves into 2 to 3 inch sections, stuck them in soil and watered them regularly for the first week or so. After the first couple of weeks, I would remember to water them every once and a while and, believe it or not, they rooted!

Mother-in-law’s tongue plant grown from leaf cuttings, after 3-4 months.

It takes a long time to propagate mother-in-law’s tongue plant from leaf cuttings, but if you’re not in a rush to grow new plants, it’s a very cost-effective way of getting new plants.

I had some leaves on my adult plant that were leaning over and needed to be trimmed off. This is the reason I decided to start some new plants from the leaf cuttings.

For the best results, trim the leaf at a slight angle; cut them into 2- or 3-inch lengths. Be sure to put the bottom end of the leaf (the original bottom) into the soil. Cover the end of the leaf so that about ½ to ¾ of an inch of the leaf is covered. Water and then keep the soil evenly moist for about a week or two. Then you can reduce watering to just when the soil gets dry.

With a little patience and keeping an eye on the soil moisture, you’ll have roots growing from the leaves in about 4-8 weeks. I gave my cuttings a gentle tug to see if there was resistance (meaning roots). In another few weeks, you’ll see new leaves emerging from the soil.

Easy to Care For Plant

Sansevieria grows in low light conditions or indirect bright light; it requires very little water and is not susceptible to many of the common houseplant insects. It does not tolerate freezing temperatures, but the average temperature of a house suits it just fine.

The most important thing to remember when caring for Sansevieria is to not overwater it. Overwatering is a sure fire way to kill this plant. Water it every two to three weeks and reduce watering in the winter. You might want to include a little general-purpose fertilizer in the water once in a while, but I don’t find it to be that necessary on a frequent basis.

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