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Plant Care and Propagation

OCAD University Library resources to support plant care, propagation and the inclusion of plant life in creative practice.

Tools for Plant Propagation


A healthy, thriving plant from which to take cuttings or offsets

Cutting tool

A sharp knife, scissors or pruning shears that you feel comfortable handling


Rubbing alcohol or alternative disinfectant to clean your cutting tool before use


Look for a pot with a drainage hole. Nursery pots from prior plant purchases or vegetable seedlings can be a good size. Act sustainably by reusing food and takeout containers, making sure to punch holes in the bottom for drainage. Unglazed clay pots are a great choice since they help water evaporate faster from the soil, preventing overwatering and drowning tender, new roots.

Growing medium

If using soil, look for all-purpose indoor potting soil or potting soil for seedlings. If using soil-less medium, look for coconut coir or rockwool (plants grown in soil-less medium will need to have nutrients added in watering or other means)

Soil additions

There are many materials you can mix with your soil to provide a healthier growing environment for your new plants.

Perlite, a material made of volcanic glass, is composed of rounded, white, lightweight pieces. When mixed with soil, it helps water drain faster, creates space for new root growth and prevents soil from getting compacted after multiple waterings. Perlite is made of very fine particles which can damage your lungs, so make sure to use protective respiratory equipment and/or ventilation when handling. It helps to wet the perlite before handling to reduce the amount of fine particulate in the air. Perlite is a great soil addition for plants that like to dry out between waterings. 

Vermiculite is a reflective mineral that is odorless and sterile. When mixed with soil, it helps with water and nutrient retention and helps aerate the soil. It can be used by itself as a growing medium for starting new plants from cuttings or seeds. Vermiculite is a great soil addition for plants that like to maintain moist soil conditions. 

Orchid mix is usually composed of pieces of bark, as orchids prefer a fast draining growing medium that retains moisture. Bark can also be mized with soil for plants that like to maintain moist soil conditions. 


Optional tools: 

Spray bottle or mister

Transparent cover 

Grow light 

Heating pad