It’s common practice among collectors of rare plants to propagate (that is, breed) their best specimens, but even those who care for more common plants, such as pothos or ZZ plants, can learn the technique and expand their broods for free. Anna Bernhardt, co-owner of Overgrown Home—a one-year-old West Highland shop that uses a hydroponic system to display rare plants—helped us break down the process into six surprisingly easy steps.

Step one: Choose a plant, preferably one with obvious stems or tendrils, and identify a node. “It’s the spot where a new leaf is beginning to emerge from an already established stem,” Bernhardt says. “It looks a bit like an elbow joint.”

Step two: Using a pair of sharp scissors, snip an inch to an inch and a half below the node.

Step three: Allow the stem cutting to rest for at least 30 minutes. “You want the part you trimmed to form a sort of callus,” Bernhardt says. Otherwise, water may get into the wound and cause rot.

Step four: Slip the cutting into a glass of water, fully submerging the node. “Choose a vessel with a wide opening so you can later remove the cutting without breaking off roots,” Bernhardt says.

Step five: Place the vessel in an area with bright, indirect light and change the water once a week. You should see roots in two to four weeks.

Step six: Once roots have reached two to three inches long, repot them in new soil, if you desire. Otherwise, you can leave them in the water vessel and display them that way.

Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil is a Denver-based journalist and 5280's former digital senior associate editor.