A plant, like all organisms, have the goal of survival and reproducing. In nature, there are a wide variety of plants with a wide range of reproduction methods. In this tip, we’ve outlined the main methods below:

Vegetative Propagation

Vegetative propagation is one of the most common methods plants reproduce. It includes both asexual and sexual reproduction. Asexually, plants create identical genetic replicas of themselves (except for when mutations occur) via tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, runners, stolons, and suckers.

  • Tubers are plant structures designed to store nutrients. There are both stem tubers (ex. begonias and potatoes) as well as root tubers (ex. sweet potato and cassava)
  • Rhizomes are stems of plants that are usually found underground. Common rhizomes include ginger, hops, asparagus
  • Bulbs contain food reserves to allow a plant to survive harsh condition. Common bulbs include onion, garlic, lilies and tulips
  • Stolons are similar to rhizomes, but differ in that they are not the main stem of a plant but rather a sprout from an existing stem. Stolons can also be referred to as runners and include strawberries and lily of the valley
  • Flowers/pollination is the most common method we think about when a plant produces a flower that gets pollinated and then produces seeds to grow the next generation of plants

Artificial Propagation

Artificial propagation typically consists of grafting or cuttings of plants and is an asexual method of reproduction

  • Stem cuttings typically include at least one leaf node
  • Root cuttings are buried just below the surface and send up new shoots
  • Hardwood cuttings are taken in the dormant season, typically after mid autumn until late winter
  • Semi-ripe cuttings are taken from this year’s growth and include a hard base and soft tip
  • Soft-wood cuttings are taken before mid summer

Grafting is a method of combining tissues of two plants together, typically with one tissue being the root and the other being selected for its flowers, leaves, flowers or fruit. Grafting is common practice in many fruit trees found at your local garden center, though grafting can be done on vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, and other vegetables.

Cover Image by Malcolm Manners, used under its Creative Commons license.

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