Use your own houseplants to make a unique, natural gift

How to cut, trim, and divide your own plants to create a living present for a loved one
Houseplants from above.
Photo by Pixabay

If you’re looking for unique, inexpensive, and easy gift ideas that aren’t made in China and won’t end up in a landfill, try a houseplant! Studies show that keeping plants in your home and work environment improves air quality, reduces stress, and enhances overall mood. Bonus: They look great. Whether the recipient has a green, blue, or purple thumb, a house plant makes a fun and thoughtful gift.

How to propagate houseplants

There are so many creative ways to go about gifting plants. Propagation is an easy, low-cost way to use what you already have. Your own beloved plants can yield adorable plant babies that—when planted in the right pot—make sweet and cheerful gifts. Here’s a quick guide to propagating some common plants you may already have.

Viney Plants

  1. Hand holding a vine over the edge of scissors.Start with a healthy-looking vine and use a clean, sharp knife to cut the stem 3-5 inches from the tip, just below the node where the leaf and stem meet. Take 2 or 3 cuttings this way.
  2. Trim off the leaves that are closest to the cut end. At least an inch of the stem and 1-3 nodes should go under the soil. To give your plant baby an extra boost, dip the cut end into a solution of 1 tablespoon honey dissolved in water before planting.
  3. Choose a pot with drainage holes and fill with a high quality potting soil. Add water until evenly moist but not drenched. Depending on the size of your pot, plant 1 to 3 cuttings per pot. Use a chopstick to make a hole for each cutting. Place the bottom inch of the cutting into the hole and press soil gently around it.
  4. Place plant in indirect sunlight with ample humidity and keep soil moist. Roots will form in 1 to 3 weeks.

If you have the time, another option is to root the plants in water by submerging the cut end in a vessel filled with clean water and placing it in indirect sunlight. Roots will develop within a couple of weeks. When the roots are an inch long, plant your little plantlet in soil as instructed above.

Succulents and Cacti

  1. Two hands holding small clay pot with succulents.
    Photo by Pexels

    Identify a few healthy stems on your plant. As with tropicals, use a clean, sharp knife to take your cuttings just below a node. For cacti, you can cut off any new branches (or pups 😊,) which tend to root readily.

  2. Trim off the leaves closest to the cut end. Dip the cut end and any exposed nodes in the honey mixture, as described above. Place cuttings in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and let dry for 3 to 4 days to avoid rot.
  3. Once cuttings are cured, choose a small pot with drainage holes and fill with a succulent or cactus soil. Add water until evenly moist but not drenched. When the cut ends of your clippings have cured, bury them in soil press soil around new plant.
  4. Place plant in indirect sunlight with good air-flow. Use a spray bottle to keep soil moist.

Bunched Plants

  1. Gently remove your entire plant from its pot and loosen the soil away from the roots. 
  2. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut the root ball in half. Divide again if large enough and repot the divisions into appropriately sized pots.
  3. Care for the new plant as you would any newly re-potted tropical plant: With indirect light, good air flow, and even moisture.

Worried that hacking away pieces of your plant friends might do them in? Don’t sweat it. As long as you’re working with a well-established, healthy plant and using sharp, clean equipment, cutting back vines and dividing crowded root balls is likely to improve your plant’s health and appearance.

Dress to Impress

Succulents peek out from holes cut in soda cans hanging from ceiling.
Photo by The Ladies Only

Choose a fun container for your baby plant, and your little bundle of greenery is sure to be a big hit. A go-through of the basement, shed, or even the recycle bin can yield a surprising number of vessels that can make the perfect home for your new plant.

Jazz up a plain or unattractive pot with a festive ribbon around the rim, or place it in a fun gift bag. If you’re pot-less, you can punch some holes in the bottom of a recycled plastic container and cover the outside with cloth or ribbon to form an attractive eco-pot.

With your newly established plant babies and some creativity around their containers, you’ll have a handful of gifts to give without the usual headaches. And your own plants will be happier for it!

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