Propagating begonias is fun, simple, and rewarding, allowing you to expand your collection without the expense of buying new plants.
In this post, I’m going to explain how to multiply begonias by rooting the cuttings or leaves in water or soil, with full step-by-step instructions.
I’ll also list all the essential supplies you’ll need and share my tips for success, helping you propagate your favorite begonia varieties like a pro.
Begonia Propagation Methods
There are three ways you can propagate begonias – you can divide them, grow them from seeds, or take cuttings.
Rooting the stems is the easiest option and works well for all varieties, so that’s the method I’ll explain in more detail.
First, though, let’s take a quick look at each of the three different techniques.
Rooting cuttings is the method I recommend for propagating begonias because it’s the easiest way to turn one plant into several.
It involves taking and preparing your stem cuttings and then rooting them in either soil or water.
Roots develop from the nodes (the spot where you removed the leaves) in as little as 4 to 6 weeks, and within 2 to 3 months the cuttings should be ready to pot up.
It’s also possible to propagate begonias from a single leaf, but it will take much longer to grow into a full-sized plant.
You can propagate any type of begonia by division, but this is the most common way to multiply tuberous varieties.
This method involves separating a mature plant into several smaller sections, and then repotting each division into a new container.
For the best chance of success, make sure that each division has a good root system attached.
This is the slowest way to propagate begonias, but it’s fun to give it a try.
To save the seeds, don’t deadhead the flowers. Instead, allow pods to form and dry on the plant, then collect them in a small bag or bowl.
Wait for a calm day to do this – the seeds are so tiny that they’ll easily blow away if it’s windy. Then you can simply sprinkle them over the soil to plant them.
When To Propagate Begonias
The best time to propagate begonias depends on which method you choose to use.
I recommend taking cuttings during the spring or summer, since your begonias are actively growing. Plus the warmth and humidity will give the cuttings a much better chance of rooting quickly and successfully.
Spring is the best time to split mature plants. This will give the divisions enough time to become established before the heat of summer.
Alternatively, you could divide them in the fall once the temperatures have cooled down, which is the best time to do it in warmer climates.
Propagating Begonias From Stem Cuttings
Since rooting stem cuttings is the easiest and most popular way to propagate begonias, I’m going to explain the process step by step.
Before I start, though, let’s look at how to take and prepare your clippings so you’ll have the best chance of success.
How To Take Begonia Stem Cuttings
Before taking your begonia cuttings, find a mature, healthy branch that has plenty of leaves. Avoid any that are thick and woody or thin and leggy.
Take a cutting that’s around 3 to 4 inches long using a clean, sterilized pair of precision pruners or micro-tip snips. Make your cut at a 45° angle right above the next set of lower leaves or a stem joint.
Preparing Begonia Cuttings For Propagation
To prepare your clippings, remove all of the buds and flowers, along with a few of the bottom leaves to expose the nodes. Do this by simply pinching or snipping them off.
Don’t remove all of the leaves, though – your cutting will need some on top to survive.
Related Post: How To Care For Angel Wing Begonia
Propagating Begonia Leaves
If your begonia has larger leaves, then it’s possible to multiply it from a single leaf in either water or soil.
Just bear in mind that it can take a long time to get a full-size plant, and the chance of success is lower.
Still, it’s worth a try using the leaves you removed from your stem cuttings, and it’s fun to see if it works.
How To Take Begonia Leaf Cuttings
Roots can develop from either the base of the petiole (the stalk that joins the leaf to the stem), or from the leaf’s major veins.
Preparing Begonia Leaves For Propagation
If you are propagating a begonia leaf and its petiole, you can go straight to the rooting instructions below.
Otherwise, if you want to try it with the leaf blade only, first cut it into sections and make sure that each one contains a primary vein. Then follow the instructions for rooting them in soil below.
Tips For Propagating Begonias In Water Or Soil
Now that your begonia stem cuttings or leaves are ready for propagation, it’s time to root them in either water or soil.
It’s important to work quickly so that they don’t shrivel or dry out, as this may prevent them from rooting.
Propagating Begonias In Water
To root the stems in water, submerge them in a vase so that the exposed nodes are covered, but the leaves are not. I like using a clear vase for this because it’s fun to watch the roots develop.
Move the vase to a warm, bright place in your home and make sure the water remains clean and topped off. Wait until the roots are 3 to 4 inches long before potting up your new baby.
While it’s quick and easy to propagate begonias in water, the cuttings tend to produce thinner, weaker roots than they do when they’re rooted in soil. This can make water-rooted cuttings vulnerable to severe transplant shock.
Propagating Begonias In Soil
This is the method I recommend for rooting your begonia cuttings because it’s the most reliable and will produce stronger roots.
It may be a little more time-consuming than using a vase of water, but you’ll be rewarded with hardier starts that stand a much greater chance of survival once you pot them up.
Move your cuttings to a warm place with lots of indirect light, keeping the soil consistently moist and the air around them humid.
Related Post: Overwintering Begonias: 3 Easy Methods!
How Long Does It Take Begonia Cuttings To Root?
In general it takes around 4 to 6 weeks for begonia cuttings to root. But the exact timing depends on conditions like the temperature and humidity.
If you put them in a clear vase of water, it’s easy to see when the new roots start forming. This can take as little as a few weeks.
If you used soil, you can tell they’re rooted when new leaves start forming on top. Alternatively, you can try gently tugging the cuttings – they shouldn’t move if they have roots.
Why Won’t My Begonia Cuttings Propagate?
There are a few different things that can stop your cuttings from rooting, or slow their progress.
Begonia cuttings need consistent moisture too, so check the soil with a gauge probe, or make sure the stems remain completely submerged if you’re propagating them in water.
The time of year also plays a part, and it can be challenging during the colder months when your plant’s growth naturally slows down.
How To Care For Begonia Cuttings
Your begonia cuttings will need adequate warmth, moisture, and light to survive during propagation.
Keep them in a warm, bright part of your home, but avoid direct sunlight as this can burn the leaves or even bake your cuttings if they’re under plastic.
Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out by keeping the container covered, or mist them daily. If you’re propagating them in water, ensure that the roots are submerged at all times.
How To Pot Up The Rooted Cuttings
Once the roots on your begonia cuttings are around 3 to 4 inches long, it’s time to pot them up.
Plant the stems at the same depth they were in the water or growing medium and make sure the roots are fully covered.
Press the soil around them gently and water lightly. Place them in a warm, bright location with lots of indirect light, and begin caring for your new babies as you would the mature plant.
Related Post: How To Grow & Care For Begonia Plants
Here are my answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about propagating begonias. If you don’t see yours listed, please add in the comments section below.
Do you propagate begonias in water or soil?
You can propagate begonias in either water or soil. Most people prefer to use soil as it encourages more robust roots and gives the new baby plant a better chance of survival.
Can I grow begonias from cuttings?
Yes, you can grow begonias from stem or leaf cuttings by rooting them in either water or soil. It’s easy to do, even if you’re a beginner.
What’s the best way to propagate begonias?
The best way to propagate begonias is to root the cuttings in soil. This is my preferred method, because it gives the cuttings strong roots and the best chances of survival once potted up. But you can easily root them in water if you prefer.
How long does it take begonia cuttings to root in water?
On average, it takes around 4 to 6 weeks for begonia cuttings to root in water. But it take about 2 to 3 months for the roots to get long enough so you can safely pot up your cuttings.
Will begonia cuttings root in water?
Yes, begonia cuttings will root in water pretty quickly. But the roots tend to be weaker than they are when you propagate them in soil, so there’s a higher risk of severe transplant shock.
Where do you cut begonias to propagate?
You can cut begonias to propagate anywhere on a mature, healthy stem. Make your cut right above a lower leaf or stem joint, and ensure your clippings contain several leaves. If you are rooting a single leaf, clip off the leaf and its stem, or remove just the blade.
More About Plant Propagation
- How To Propagate Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus) In Water Or Soil
- How To Propagate Wandering Jew (Tradescantia) In Water Or Soil
Share your tips for how to propagate begonias in the comments section below.