How to Save on Plants by Stealing Cuttings

If you want to fill your home with beautiful plants, you can buy them like a sucker. Or you can remove one or two leaves from a plant you see somewhere – one or two must-have leaves – and persuade it to develop into a full-fledged plant of its own.

I am not saying that you have to pluck the leaves from the plants in the shops. I’m just letting you know that if you did it it would probably work. You can also ask friends to cut houseplants or cut something in your neighbor’s garden or public park. The moral and ethical implications are left to the reader as an exercise.

In general, if there is a plant that you like, Google its name along with the word “propagate by cuttings” and you will find a ton of information. Some plants do not grow well this way, but many do. Succulents are especially easy to grow from cuttings; here is a guide to help them take root. Herbs like mint, basil, sage, and thyme will take root if you just put their twigs in water; here is a guide on how to do it. Sometimes you will need to stimulate the rooting of a stolen stem by dipping it in powdery rooting hormone , which you can buy at any garden store.

If you are into breeding plants from stolen cuttings, I must warn you that this can lead to grave robberies. Authors Tom Christopher and Marty Asher write in The 20 Minute Gardener that the best rose bushes grow in cemeteries. It was once a tradition to plant a rosebush on your mother’s grave, so you will likely have several options to choose from. Just look for a rose you like next to a very old gravestone that doesn’t look well-groomed – this way you’ll know the rose grows well, even if neglected, and lessen the chances of being caught red-handed by visiting your loved one.

This article was originally published in October 2019 and was updated on March 25, 2021 to follow the Lifehacker style guidelines.

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