Propagating Plants Vegetatively


Starting Coleus and Pineapple Sage from cuttings in September.  Choose beautiful containers, glass vases, and / or interestingly shaped recycled glass jars for the cuttings whenever possible.
IMG_5323closeup of rooted impatiens
By late November, the Coleus and some of the Pineapple Sage plants have developed roots and been transferred to pots with soil.  The New Guinea Impatiens cuttings (that were taken in September and early October) are also ready to be transferred to containers.  The Spider Plant cuttings are sporting water roots in addition to the chubby aerial roots that they already had when they were trimmed from their parent plants.  They too can be transferred to new soil-filled containers.  As always, choose pots with good drainage – and supply saucers.
IMG_5332 rooted plants
The rosy pink roots and new blossoms of this variety of New Guinea Impatiens embellish a late fall windowsill.  These water-rooted plants make a fascinating and beautiful addition to your home or classroom – even as you provide youngsters with many opportunities for learning about plant growth and development.  In this photo, you can also see how students sometimes label their glass containers with Dover stickers depicting famous paintings.  You can also see the roots and sprouts of the Narcissus bulbs that we start in bowls of rocks and water for Christmas.


Living organisms have evolved so many ways to keep their spark of life going!  October is an excellent time in New Hampshire to learn about the many adaptations that allow plants to survive the approaching cold weather and ebbing quantities of sunlight.

In addition to learning about seed dispersal, our children (especially those in the after-school garden club) are busy digging up and potting some of the more delicate plants so that these can brighten the classrooms (and survive) through the winter in the well-heated school building.  We like to think that the plants improve air quality as well as classroom aesthetics.  Additionally, the youngsters start numerous stem cuttings in jars and vases of water on south-facing window sills.  Sometimes, they try a few root cuttings as well.  The goal, besides learning more botany and practicing stewardship, is to increase the quantities of certain favorite plants in the school collection – plants such as Geraniums, Pineapple Sage, New Guinea Impatiens, Coleus, Rhizomatous Begonias, and Echinacea / Coneflowers.  The newly propagated plants, once rooted, are placed in pots and shared with other classrooms, taken home, or sold in the garden club plant sales.

This is also the time of year when teams of students in various classes weigh, measure, draw, and plant tulip and daffodil bulbs.  These are the flowers that will help us welcome in the spring.  But that’s a topic for another page!

Here are the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas that could be readily referenced during these activities about asexual plant propagation:  PS3.A, PS3.B, PS3.D, LS1.A, LS1.B, LS1.C, LS2.A, LS2.B, LS2.C, LS3.A, LS4.C, LS4.D, ESS1.B, ESS2.C, ESS2.D.

The activities are especially suitable for NGSS Practice 3:  Planning and carrying out investigations, but they could also be designed to incorporate other science and engineering practices.  They can address NGSS Crosscutting Concepts such as:  Patterns; Cause and Effect; Energy and Matter; Structure and Function, and Stability and Change.

Propagating Plants Vegetatively

Click on the following title for the PDF of this take-home sheet:  Vegetative Plant Propagation NOFA-NH

As you’ll notice, it reinforces visually as well as verbally, the key procedures and concepts for the hands-on activities themselves.  It also offers youngsters a chance to study the plants abstractly (i.e. reduced to line and tone drawings).  They can then exercise their fine motor control and artistic choice as they apply colors to the images.

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