There are ways to get free plants for your garden, and I don’t mean bribing the checker at the home improvement store. Nope, these are more satisfying anyway! The way to get free flowers and plants is to learn how to propagate plants that already exist, either from your own garden, or a neighbor or gardening buddies. Plant propagation means to basically cause the plant to multiply… thus taking one plant, and turning it into several, or even many! Free plants for the garden!

There are many ways to propagate plants, but many of them are too complicated for the average gardener, and usually take extreme patience and a greenhouse. I’m going to concentrate on the ones that are easy and within the ability of even a beginner.  These methods include gathering seed, division, softwood cuttings, and leaf cuttings.

I’m not going to get detailed about seed saving, because we just did a post on that, but you should jump over to learn all about Growing Seeds Indoors, and How to Save Seed.




Plant Propagation

How to Divide to Get Free Plants

Division is an easy process that splits one plant into several, best done in spring or fall. Any plant that grows with more than one central “stalk” is technically a candidate for division, but certain plants are easier pickings. In other words, plants that grow in “clumps”.  Good choices? Most perennials without a taproot, such as hostas, day lilies, iris, grasses, phlox, coneflower, black eyed susans, asters and astilbe. (And many, many more!) The basic steps?

  • Dig up the plant with a sharp spade
  • Separate the crowns to make new plants. You can tease the roots apart with your fingers with some plants, but others you may have to cut them with a knife. Don’t worry, they will be fine!
  • Replant each crown you separated as a new plant immediately, and water well until they get established.

Check out this tutorial on how to divide perennials from ‘Garden Gate Magazine‘. They have tons of tips, step by step photos, and even tell you when is the best time to divide!


     List of Easiest Perennials to Divide

  • Hostas
  • Bee Balm
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Daylily
  • Phlox
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Sedums
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Bearded Iris
  • Bachelor Buttons

This list is far from exhaustive! Remember, DO NOT try to divide perennials with woody crowns or a taproot.



How to Propagate Plants with Cuttings

Softwood cuttings are kind of like when we cut a stem of a houseplant and stick it in a glass of water until it grows roots, except we stick it into moist potting soil and trap it with a plastic bag. (OK, you can just stick some plants into water, let’s be honest… some are just so easy!)  Learn how to propagate from softwood cuttings over at ‘Fine Gardening‘. If you want to try softwood cuttings on plants with tougher stems, like hydrangeas, know that it matters what time of year, and what part of the plant you use as a cutting. And when they mention rooting hormone powder and you start to panic, don’t worry. Just ask for it at your local nursery, it looks like cornstarch and just helps speed root formation… you can do it without though. They even have a list of the plants that you can root this way.


Here we have a nice post on rooting perennials in water… ‘Valley Gardens‘ shows us how to propagate cuttings the lazy way. ;) They used a eucalyptus tree and a morning glory plant, but many plants are easily propagated this way.



Here’s another great example of division by cuttings… ‘Cafe Sucre Furine‘ shows us how to propagate with cuttings. In this tutorial, they used a common basil plant.


Leaf Cutting Propagation

The last easy method is propagation by leaf cuttings. What this means is you basically cut off a leaf and some of the stem, then plant it into soil medium just like you did for softwood cuttings. This works really well with succulents, which are so popular right now. In fact in my garden, these propagate themselves. When a windstorm breaks off some stem or leaves, they replant themselves everywhere! So really, how hard can it be? (My sedum “Angelina” is a main offender, but I love it!) Terrain has a simple tutorial on how to propagate succulents by leaf cutting.

Ok, so that’s it! Learn plant propagation so you can make free plants for your garden, or host a swap party with family and friends and share! We think you will also love our posts on 10 No Fail Perennials for Low Water Gardens and DIY Hypertufa Projects!


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.


  1. Lola August 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    I Live in south florida, where can I finde the planting zone. ?

  2. delly beaver July 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    is there a way to root a honey suckle vine my best friend has passed away and I wish to have a part of her plant in my garden

    1. Kathy Woodard July 18, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      You should be able to root honeysuckle in water by stripping off all the lower leaves, then placing in a glass or vase of water. You can also dig up just part of the plant and divide it, then plant the rest of the mother plant back again. Hope that helps!

  3. Roxanne September 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

    My husband brought home a branch from a croton plant, l’m seeing a couple small branches is it possible for me to get more plants from it using your methods but without the bags or greenhouse, we live in the Caribbean if that helps

    1. Kathy Woodard September 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      You should be able to easily root it in water from a stem cutting, just keep it out of full sun while its rooting. Good luck!

  4. Todd Charske September 14, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    What is the best method to start blueberry trees I have about 12 different varieties southern high bush and rabbiteye I’d like to start some new bushes from?

    Thank you,

    Todd Charske

    1. Kathy Woodard September 21, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Blueberry bushes can be started from softwood cuttings, and that method is in the post. Good luck!

  5. Sheila June 19, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    How can you get a start off of a snowball bush? My grandmother passed & would love to get a start off of hers! Love them! Thanks!

    1. Kathy Woodard June 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Follow the directions for softwood cuttings and you should do well!

  6. Victor June 7, 2016 at 4:49 am

    Another thing you can do save all the 2 litter plastic bottles cut at button part , put a piece of Bush about 15 cm long in earth, put the bottle on it , make it become like a self green garden, when you need to water time to time, open cap on top and water when the is no sun and close cap.
    In about 3 to 4 weeks the Bush or scrub or even roses withholding give roots , by no being able to breed up it will breed down and roots are born.
    You can build your garden from one plant , a garden will start to look like a good garden in 3 to 4 years.

  7. Adrian January 18, 2016 at 7:10 am

    What really helps to grow roos is the bark of a willow and than the younger sprouts of them.
    Works real well

  8. Amy August 22, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    how do you grow cuttings from a hydrangea?????

    1. Stephanie March 23, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      When my Grandmother passed away I wanted a starting of hers. When I was pulling the limbs back looking for a good spot to try and dig something up I noticed where she had taken limbs, pulled them to the ground, covered a small area about half way of the stem with soil then placed a bricks on each one. When I checked every single one had started a new plant.

      1. Kathy Woodard April 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm

        Thats called layering, and it works very well for many plants!

  9. Bonnie Lowery July 1, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I hope I can get one started. I dug up the whole hydrangea when my parents passed. Now my daughter wants one for her new home. Thanks for sharing your help on line. I’m sure gonna try.

  10. Janet June 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Did the same as Susan many times with Hostas, hydrangeas great success but was wondering if there is a method for roses

    1. Pam July 29, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Roses would probably be pretty complicated since most bushes you buy have the fancy stem grafted onto a stronger “wild” root system.

    2. Adam August 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Take a green rose stem, remove the leaves and flower, stick the bottom of the stem into a half of a potato and plant. Works great!

      1. Denise August 10, 2015 at 11:25 am

        i tried this and it did not work for me….i wished it did

        1. Kathy Woodard August 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm

          Which did you try and how? Gardening is definitely a trial and error “sport”!

        2. Victor June 7, 2016 at 4:39 am

          Only in spring when the earth is still moist, you can eighteen buy a bouquet of old roses for a very low price , cut them into three pieces , sideccut ( up to down) push them in your garden and slowly you are going to see that they are becoming bigger, let them grow there, if you want the year after you can trim and plant all over.

        3. Jaklin May 29, 2017 at 10:27 pm

          The top needs to be sealed for roses. Some people cover the top with mud do it won’t get air but I dip the top in the melted candle wax and stick it in the pot, I don’t even use potato, I make around 40 pots of roses and give them away to friend and family, because I don’t like to waste the cutting ?

    3. Lisa September 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      My mom always cuts it at an elbow and plants’ that and it grows roots

    4. Mark November 23, 2016 at 1:49 am

      I have to agree with the writer I have tried all of these and many more and I never use root tone either.. I keep little pruning sheers with me in my pocket all the time and I see something somewhere I think is cool I just snip a piece or two and take home and literally I just stab in the soil and almost every time the plant will root! it is just amazing! I tend to have 100% success in the fall and spring months as I forget to religiously water in the summer and kill a few sometimes. honestly the less complicated you make it works the best.. trying to cut at angles and such and all that just does not matter if your conditions are fairly good and the soil is never too wet or dry! oh and spitting bushes and other more difficult plants I just use a cordless SAWZALL I bought for about $35and I bought the special pruning blades.. I separate a lot of bamboo and believe me this makes the job a breeze compared to with out. especially if you do them in containers and they become too confined and you want to remove some. sorry to babble on so long!

  11. virginia May 22, 2015 at 10:33 am

    i do this with store vegetables, i no longer buy green onions, chives, spagetti squash, i used the tubers in my squash leaving on the seeds, my green onions i stuck the chopped root end into i have my own..i am working on getting my garden up & growing…

  12. sandy January 29, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    I planted 3 differant hydrangias’. None of them will flower. I’ve fertilized checked for bugs. I can’t figure this out. Can you help?

    1. Kathy Woodard March 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      Do they get any sun, and if so, morning or afternoon? Do they get regular water?

    2. Susan April 13, 2015 at 9:34 am

      I have tried these methods with no success, too. BUT I did dig up my hydrangea and just cut it in half, then replant them. Worked great. Now I have 2 plants and both are thriving. This works with ferns, too, and a lot of other plants, even Lilacs. With Lilacs, take a new shoot and sever the root in the ground from the main plant, leave it to grow it’s own root, then transplant it, and it will do fine.

      1. Jackson August 11, 2016 at 1:49 am

        When I cut my hydrangea down after a full flower session, I cut the hydrangeas down to the new growth but the new growth is always so much more, so I start to thin the bushes out, the stems that seem larger than others I start to thin out I can’t bare to throw away as the plant was my mums, and she is no longer here, so I have started my own little replanting stock so next year I am going to sell them as mine are beautiful.

  13. mrswigitywag December 25, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I did this with 40 leaves. I followed directions to the t…I had only ONE spring a root string which then died….

    1. Denise April 12, 2015 at 8:19 am

      I turn the leaves over so the end has contact with the potting soil, it has never failed me. It does take patience. Good luck

  14. Elisha October 25, 2014 at 5:21 am

    NEVER leave garlic in the fridge because it will regrow a plant in about a week and I have soo much garlic!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.