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Sustainable Gifts: Plant Propagation Presents

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Isla Stubbs recommends plant propagations as a sustainable and thoughtful Christmas present and shows you how to do your own!

Image credit: Isla Stubbs.

Every year it gets more and more important to gift sustainably. The Christmas season is filled with people giving unnecessary and unwanted presents, a waste of both money and plastic. So this year, why not plan ahead and create the cheapest, zero-waste and sustainable gift – plants! Here is a quick guide on how to multiply your plants to give as gifts for anyone from your work secret santa, to your best friend, to your mum on Christmas Day!

Step 1 – Pick Your Plant

You can propagate most types of plants, but some are a lot easier than others. Some species such as Spider Plants give off “pups” (“spiderlings”), and these do most of the work for you. For others, you might need to take leaf cuttings or use a root division method. Have a search for the best method to use for your species.

Step 2 – Cutting

Once you have chosen your plant and method of propagation, it’s time to take your cutting! If you’ve picked a plant with pups this is easier, simply remove the pup and place in your potting mix (you can also leave them in water and watch the roots grow!). The pup on a spider plant will appear on a stem, but on some plant species like the Royal Highness, they will appear as babies next to the parent plant. 

A Royal Highness with a pup (left) and a parent Royal Highness separated from its two pups (right). Image credit: Isla Stubbs.

Leaf and stem cuttings work in a similar way, just cut a healthy leaf off your plant and leave it for a few days for the wound to heal over before placing it upright in some potting mix. You can also add rooting gel/powder to the cut to help speed up the process (but this isn’t essential!). 

Fresh leaf cuttings of an Echeverias plant. Image credit: Isla Stubbs.

Step 3 – Maintenance 

Finally, all you need to do is look after your propagated plant. Make sure it has plenty of water. Even succulent plants and cacti want a lot of water at this early stage, so give them a big drink and let their soil completely dry out in between watering. Different plants will have different needs so it is best to search how often you should water and how much sun/shade your species prefers.

Growth progress from leaf cuttings of an Echeverias plant. Image credit: Isla Stubbs.

Step 4 – Gifting

To make this plant a perfect gift, you want to propagate as early as possible so the cutting has time to establish. You might also want to get a nice pot to put it in, and the most sustainable purchases are second-hand, so pop into your nearest charity shop and see what they have. If you can’t find a pot you like, try painting over one, or get creative and use something else like a mug or an old teapot.

About the Author: Isla Stubbs (she/her) is currently in her final year studying Environmental Science at York.

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