Agricultural Science

Methods of plant propagation

Biola Emmanuel - Fri, 29th March, 2019 @ 18:42: PM

What is plant propagation?

According to google dictionary, The word propagation means “the breeding of specimens of a plant or animal by natural processes from the parent stock”. We also know that life is naturally formed from the fertilization of sperm and egg. Sometimes, certain cells regenerate missing parts and end up creating an entire organism (This is called totipotency).

Plant propagation is the branch of horticulture that simply involve the process of creating new plants. These new plants may be created sexually or asexually.

Sexual propagation and Asexual propagation are thus the 2 methods of plant propagation.



The word sexual refers to any process involving the male gamete and the female gamete. In sexual propagation, the floral parts of the flower are utilized. The zygote is formed when the pollen grains from the anther of a flower is transferred to the stigma of a flower (of the same plant or another plant) by some agents like wind, water or animal leading to the eventual fertilization of the egg or ova. This process is know as pollination. The seed is the product of sexual reproduction and is composed of three parts:

  • Outer seed coat: protects the seed;
  • Endosperm: serves food reserve;
  • Embryo:  develops into young plant.

The seed will have a genotype (half from the pollen grain and the remainder half from the egg). Consequently, the resulting plant from such seed will possess characteristics from both parents.

Note: Some seeds are not produced sexually. A typical example is the hawkweed (Hieracium specie). It produces seed without sexual union through a process called apomixis. Seeds produced in this way are called apomictic seeds.

Certain bisexual flowers are self sterile. This mean that whenever pollen grains from a flower is deposited on the stigma of the same flower, no fertilization will occur. In another type, the male and female gamete mature at different times, making fertilization impossible.



It’s also referred to as vegetative propagation because a vegetative part of the plant (root, stem, or leaf) is taken and made to regenerate itself into a new plant. The resulting plant is a clone of the parent plant. A clone is an offspring that is genetically identical to it’s parent. It is the best way to retain some plant species, especially the best of their kinds. Various techniques are used to bring about vegetative propagation. They include:


Part of a plant is cut and joined together to another rooted plant so that they can grow as one plant. This scion is the branch of the cut plant (desired variety) that will be grafted to the other rooted plant. Such rooted plant is called the stock. Grafting is done on a stock plant, with a very strong root system. Some methods of grafting include

  • Wedge grafting
  • Cleft grafting
  • Tongue grafting
  • Bark grafting
  • Butt grafting
  • Side grafting



It’s also called bud grafting and is a type of grafting. The difference is that the part of the stock in which the scion is inserted is cut in T shape. The scion is inserted into it. The cut is then covered by winding a strip of polythene sheet, keeping only the bud exposed. We have different types of budding; they are:

  • Chip budding
  • Patch budding
  • T-budding



In cuttings, a part of the parent is severed (cut away). When planted, this part will regenerate itself into a new plant. Cuttings can be of different types depending on the part of plant severed. This will include

  • Stem cuttings: e.g Mint and Dahlia
  • Root cuttings: e.g breadfruit and White Poinsettia
  • Leaf cuttings: e.g African violets and Kalanchoe



This technique of vegetative propagation is similar to stem cuttings. The difference is that "in normal stem cuttings, the stems (not having roots) are cut away from the parent plant and planted". In layering, the stem first develop roots. (These roots must be formed on the stem of the mother plant for layering to occur). Only after that can we cut off the stem and plant it. Below are some types of layering:

  • Air layering
  • Mound (stool) layering
  • Compound layering
  • Tip layering
  • Simple layering



Separation applies to plant that produce corms and bulbs.


Other techniques used in vegetative propagation or asexual reproduction are:

Stolons or Runners



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