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Horticulture and Natural Resources

Exploring Horticulture at the Kids' Field Day

Thank you for attending the Kids' Field Day at the K-State North Agronomy Farm. The Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources was very pleased to see all of your faces this year as we discussed "Plant Propagation". We have set this page up as a reminder of what you learned in your short visit with us, and to learn more about the image on your bookmarks.

Step-by-Step Process to Plant Propagation

Materials Needed

Here’s what you’ll need to get started in order to multiply or “propagate” your plants (Left to Right):

  • Plant rooting hormonesupplies
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sharp pruning knife or scalpel (be sure to have an adult help you with this!)
  • Hand pruner
  • A container with potting media (kind of like soil, but for potted plants!)
  • A pencil or stick to poke holes for your cuttings into the potting media & of course, a plant to take your cuttings from!

Plant Rooting Hormone

rooting hormoneHere’s a photo of plant rooting hormone. This can come in many forms and may be a liquid or powder. Some plants do not require this in order to root, look for information about your plant to see if you need this in order to propagate your plant.

Rubbing Alcohol

rubbing alcoholHere’s a photo of rubbing alcohol just like the kind your mom may put on a cut when you get hurt. We use this to kill the germs that may be on our hand pruners and scalpel that we use to take the cuttings from the plant we want to propagate. We don’t want our plants to catch any germs that prevent them from rooting and growing!

Hand Pruner

prunersThis is a hand pruner. We use this to take cuttings from the plant we want to propagate. Be sure to have an adult to help you when using a hand pruner! 



This is a scalpel. We use this to make clean, sharp cuts on our plant to minimize the injury to our plants and help them root quickly! Be sure to have an adult to help you when using a scalpel!

 Container with Potting Media

potting mediaThis is our container with potting media inside. This will serve as the “soil” where our newly rooted plants will grow!



Here’s a pencil. We will use this to make a hole in the container potting media where our plant cuttings will go.

Step 1:

whole plantAnd of course, here’s our plant!

Step 2:

sanitizeSanitize your hand pruner and scalpel before taking cuttings of your plant.

Step 3:

first cutRemove a portion of a stem with 3 nodes (rows of leaves on the stem)

Step 4:

remove leavesRemove all the or just the lower leaves from the stem. Save these, they may be used to propagate your plant (depends on the kind of plant that you have)

Step 5:

cut top of bud

Trim the stem portion above the 1st node (1st row of leaves from the top of the stem cutting), leaving a ½-1 inch of the stem above the node.

Step 6:

treat with hormoneTrim the stem portion above the 3rd node (3rd row of leaves from the top of the stem cutting). Keep the top portion that you just trimmed, this is your cutting that you will be propagating your new plant from! 

Step 7:

make a holeIf the information that you found for the plant you want to propagate says to use plant rooting hormone, follow recommended and hormone label instructions for treating your cutting with the plant hormone. Have an adult help you with this!

Step 8:

stick cuttingMake a hole with a pencil to receive your cutting in the potting media of your container.

Step 8a:

too deep in soilPlace your cutting into the hole that you just created.

Step 8b:

just rightWhen sticking your cutting into the potting media, be sure not to place it too deep into the hole like you see here. You should cover the bottom node, but do not allow the top node to be buried by the potting media. This is where your new stems and leaves will be coming from!


cutting typesAhh, just right!

Here are some types of cuttings that we did while working on this website for you to practice with and see which type of cutting type works the best for your plant! The first pot contains stem cuttings from the tips of the stem that we cut from the plant. The second pot contains the middle portion of the stem and the third pot contains a leaf cutting with the leaf stalk placed in the container. All of these cuttings came from one large stem! It just goes to show that you can get a lot of cuttings (soon to be plants) from a relatively small portion of just one plant! Be sure to check for information on the recommended way to propagate your plant. The information should tell you what types of cuttings, what time of the year to collect the cuttings, and whether or not your plant requires rooting hormone. Have an adult help you find the propagation information for your plant. Even though you have made your cuttings, the work is not over yet! Be sure to place the cuttings in a warm and humid environment. Place a zip-top plastic bag as a tent over your pots to maintain the humidity and keep the cuttings from getting stressed and dried out! Keep out of direct sunlight and in a warm part of the room, a shelf near but not in a window is great. Keep soil moist by misting inside bag when soil appears dry. 1-2 times/week will likely be all they need! Check on rooting by giving them a slight tug and seeing if they resist being pulled out. Once adequately rooted (roots appear on the outside of the potting media when the pot is turned over in your hand), your newly propagated plants may be transplanted into a container of your choice or out in your yard! Whew, now you’re done! Enjoy!