plant propagation (beginners)

We offer a number of plant propagation courses, mostly for professional growers or those aspiring to a horticultural career. The amateur gardener is not left out however, and this course covers the subject from A-Z in around 100 hours of study.

For some, propagating plants may be purely a way to save money; for others it can develop into a rewarding hobby, or even a profitable small business

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Methods of Propagation
  2. Propagating Structures and Techniques
  3. Propagating Materials
  4. Seed Propagation
  5. Propagating by Cuttings
  6. Miscellaneous Propagating Techniques
  7. Budding and Grafting
  8. Propagation of Specific Plants
  9. Nursery Management
  10. Layout and Organisation of a Propagating Area

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the Academy, marked by our tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments and, if necessary, extra reading.

You will be working with Colin Elliott, well known horticulturist and ex-Royal Gardener, who is a passionate plantsman and keen propagation gardener.

During the course you will:

  • Obtain leaflets or catalogues plus prices for a range of plant containers.
  • Obtain samples of at least 6 different potting soil components and make up a mix which could be used for general potting of outdoor shrubs and trees into 6 inch pots.
  • Collect samples of at least six types of plant labels.
  • Collect at least three different types of seed to plant and germinate.
  • Obtain catalogues or price lists from at least six companies or organisations which supply seed.
  • Put in cuttings of at least three different types of plants.
  • Use diagrams to explain how you would grow four different cuttings.
  • Contact a bulb or herb farm to research the type of propagation program they have.
  • Carry out aerial layering.
  • Practice budding and grafting.
  • Prepare a work schedule for a propagation set up.
  • Design the layout for a new nursery or propagation area which would be ideal for your purposes.

How Are Plants Propagated?

There are many different ways of producing plants though most plants are produced commercially by either seed or cutting propagation. ‘Tissue culture’ or ‘micropropagation’ techniques carried out in a laboratory are sometimes used where very large numbers of one plant variety are required quickly, or where limited propagation stock is available. Other plants (eg. roses, deciduous fruit and ornamental trees) are traditionally produced by budding and grafting onto seed or cutting grown rootstocks. Division and separation are commonly used for the propagation of bulbs and herbaceous perennials.

Other propagation techniques (eg. layering or marcotting) may be important in the propagation of some specific types of plants; however they are relatively insignificant when taking a broad view of the nursery industry.


Sexual propagation involves growing a plant from a seed or spore which has been produced by fertilization of the female part of a plant by the male part. Plants grown this way can have some characteristics of one parent and some characteristics from the other parent. A sexually propagated plant is not always exactly the same as the plant from which the seed or spores were taken. Most flowering annuals, vegetables, biennials and perennials are grown this way. Ferns and some trees and shrubs are also propagated sexually in the nursery industry.


Asexual or vegetative propagation involves producing a new plant from only one parent. A part of an existing plant such as a piece of stem, leaf or root, is treated in some way so that it can produce a new plant. In asexual propagation, the parent plant and offspring are genetically identical. A range of techniques can be used for asexuall propagation.


Runners are shoots that grow along the ground from axillary buds and produce roots at the nodes. Plants such as strawberries are produced from runners.


Suckers are new shoots that develop from the root of the parent plant. Suckers can be divided when they have developed independent root systems. Plants such as raspberries can be produced from suckers.


Layering is the process of producing roots on the stem of a plant. There are several forms of layering:

· Tip layering is the development of roots on the growing tips of stems. This form is used to propagate blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry;

· Simple layering is the development of roots along growing stems. This form is used to propagate honeysuckle, filbert, spiraea, rhododendron, magnolia;

· Trench layering or etiolation layering involves pegging down new shoots so that they develop roots. This method is used for fruits and nuts such as apple, pear, filbert, walnut;

· Mound or stool layering involves burying the bulk of the parent plant so that roots form along the stems. This method is used for apple stock, cherry stock, currant.;

· Air Layering is the development of roots on aerial stems through specific management methods. This technique is utilised for figs, monstera, philodendron, camellia, rhododendron, azalea, holly, magnolia, lilac;

· Compound layering is the process of producing layers multiple times along the one shoot. This method is used for grape, philodendron, wisteria, magnolia , lilac.


New bulbs and corms produced vegetatively are separated from the parent plants to provide new propagation stock.

  • Bulbs: Hyacinth, lily, narcissus, tulip;
  • Corms: Gladiolus, crocus.


Particular root structures such as rhizomes, tubers, and clumping crowns are suitable for division.

  • Rhizomes: canna, iris;
  • Offsets: leek, pineapple, date;
  • Tubers: potato, dahlia;
  • Crowns: phlox.


This involves taking a section of stem from one plant and attaching it to another plant in such a way that the two will grow together. Grafting enables you to change the variety of an existing plant. (ie: By attaching a variety which you want to an existing root system you can remove the old top and have a plant comprising the roots of one variety and the top of another). Plants which can be grafted include apples, pear, peach, almond, citrus, avocado, camellia, ash, birch, elm, walnut.


A cutting is a piece of root, stem or leaf which has been treated in a way that stimulates it to grow roots, stems and leaves; hence producing another new plant. Whilst there are different types of cuttings, the majority of cuttings are pieces of stem, often with some leaves left at the top.

Cutting propagation can be carried out on a very wide variety of plants, and second to seed propagation, it is the most commonly used method of producing new plants. Cutting propagation is most commonly used for shrubs, indoor plants and many herbaceous perennials.


Home propagation - Course cost: £ 495

OR two payments of £ 295

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