How Scissors and Clippers Can Give New, Free Plants (Part 1 of 2)


I think if we realized just how easy it is to propagate some plants, we’d begin to see our scissors and clippers as our most important garden tool.

If I were to plant an apple seed, I would not grow a tree with similar apples. If I want to grow the same kind of apples, I need to clone my tree. If that sounds like a practice best left to scientists in their labs, it’s actually something home gardeners have always done in order to increase their plant numbers or to create plants for giving away.

To clone a plant, we simply cut off a stem tip of fresh, green growth and encourage it to grow roots of its own. That rooted cutting can then be planted out. This means we will have two plants with the same genes.

Cuttings from some plants need to grow new roots in soil, but some happily grow new root systems entirely in water. This means you can keep a few cuttings in jars of water on your countertop, watch those roots grow, and then plant them out in a container or right into the garden.

It’s convenient, yes, but why else should we consider rooting new plants in water? Plants growing in water are less prone to fungal problems or pests like gnats.

Here are some of the plants that are able to root in water:



Herbs like mint, lavender, sage, basil, thyme, oregano, and lemon verbena do well in water. Best of all, even if you aren’t sure if your herb will root in water, this is a painless experiment to try.

Make sure that you strip the bottom stem of its leaves so they don’t rot and pollute the water. I aim for stems that are about 6 inches long, and I strip the bottom 4 inches of leaves. If you are using herbs from the grocery store, you will want to give the bottom of your stem a fresh cut.


Tropical Houseplants

Familiar houseplants like pathos, African violet, creeping fig, begonia, and many others can be rooted in water.

Explore all our Black Barn Garden Library posts here.


Posted on

June 8, 2020

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