Plant propagation is the breeding of plants. Propagation occurs sexually, asexually, or through human manipulated asexual propagation such as cloning. Sexual and asexual propagation both have their own benefits. Understanding plant propagation methods opens up a variety of new options for growing plants and creating hybrids not possible in nature.
Sexual propagation uses the seed of a plant to grow a new specimen. Propagation in nature is most often sexual, with some plants even containing both male and female reproductive parts. Seeds are formed on a plant when the ovum is pollinated. Plants that are self pollinating carry the genetic makeup of that plant only, while plants pollinated by another plant carries genes of both.
The pollinated seed falls off the parent plant, or floats away depending on its shape. Not all seeds survive. Water that is introduced to the seed begins the germination process. Germination depends on the specific needs of the plant variety. Quick crop plants germinate in five to seven days while slower plants may take up to 21 days, according to the University of Missouri Extension. A seedling emerges from the casing of the seed and grows into an adult plant over time.
Asexual propagation is the removal of plant tissue from a donor plant for the purposes of cloning its genetic material. Removal of tissue from a donor plant almost always produces the exact same plant type unless there are mutations. Some species of plants are only propagated using asexual methods due to the specificity of the variety and its qualities.
The use of cuttings is the most prevalent type of cloning. Cuttings require the removal of a piece of tissue from the parent plant. A leaf is commonly used. A rooting hormone is spread along the wound where the cutting was removed. Roots form on the wound when placed into a growing medium such as vermiculite or perlite. The plant develops roots and begins to grow again. After a few weeks of growth, the clone can be transplanted into disease-free potting soil.
Types of Cuttings
Stock plants are the parent plants used to make a clone, according to the Ohio State University Extension. The stock plant is disease free and in good health. There are three types of stock plants; herbaceous, woody and softwood. Herbaceous cuttings are taken from soft-stemmed, or nonwoody plants. Hardwood cuttings are taken from plants that have woody material. Softwood cuttings are taken from plants that are woody plants that have yet to harden and are somewhat green.