Propagation stations are popping up all over the internet, showing up on blogs, social media and YouTube- and for good reason. In fact, some businesses have begun selling propagation station set ups, but that’s ridiculous when they’re so easy to make yourself!
Propagation stations have become popular for many different reasons, one definitely just being that it rhymes and sounds super cool. Aside from the great name, propagation stations also serve many functions that I’ll explain throughout this post.
But first, let me explain what propagation is and how the process sparked the trend of propagation stations.
Spider plant growing in a vase.
What Does Propagation Mean?
Propagation is a way of gardening or growing plants without starting from seeds. Propagation starts with plant clippings and grows new ones from them! It’s the same process of plant growth that plants would do on their own, but through propagation we can decide things like when and how many new plants are growing.
How does Propagation Work?
To start propagating, you need to snip off a little piece of a plant. Some plants have specific needs for clippings, like the Fiddle Leaf Fig, but in general you can just cut off a leaf or stem of a plant and begin with that.
You take the clipping and place it in water, so the bottom is submerged in water but you don’t need nor want the entire clipping in water. You want the bottom half inch of the plant submerged so it can drink but isn’t flooded.
What happens next is super cool to watch. The plant clipping will grow roots to soak up the water and drink it up! As it drinks more and the water level gets lower, the roots will extend to be able to drink. It’s an amazing process to watch and it happens pretty quickly- you’ll see day by day how the roots get longer and the water disappears. The clipping will start to grow roots like the one pictured below.
You’ll want to keep an eye on the water levels and make sure there’s enough for the roots to reach. Like I said, you don’t want to drown the plant, but if the roots can’t reach them the clipping will just dry up. You also have to keep in mind that since the plant isn’t potted, it isn’t receiving nutrients from the soil, so it needs clean water and sunlight.
What Plants Can I Propagate?
Oh, I have good news for you. You can propagate ANY PLANT! That means you can grow an unlimited number of plants from any that you already have. All plants naturally do a propagation process anyways because they need to grow new parts to stay healthy, so they all have the ability to grow in water like this.
Some have different needs, like for example with most herbs you need to pluck the bottom leaves. Succulents are slightly different in that they need a shallower dish to grow in.
Here’s a list of complete guides to propagating several common plants:
What is a Propagation Station?
So now that you know what propagation is, you can assume what a propagation station is. As the name implies, it’s an area or section that is dedicated to propagating plants. Because propagating is so easy, many people who start doing so will get really into it and propagate often, which is why there’s the idea of having a whole section.
Plus, if you’re using clippings from plants you already have and use bottles from previous products or that you’ve found, it’s completely free! Even if you want to create a slightly more complex area, with the following ideas you’ll see how easy and inexpensive it can be.
Why Propagate Plants?
For people who have a garden, even a small herb garden or balcony garden, propagating is an easy and free way to keep growing more crops and increase the food you’re growing. Propagating herbs is very easy and is a great way to start an herb garden if you’d like to start growing food.
Even if you don’t garden but just enjoy houseplants, propagating allows you to grow more without having to buy more and you can also be involved in watching them grow!
One other thing that’s so awesome about propagation stations and why they’ve become so popular- they’re visually very beautiful. Not all of them are as elaborate as the one pictured above, but you can get the idea.
Originally created just for practical reasons, propagation stations have become an element of room design, similar to how houseplants have. Many designers and bloggers have gotten very creative with how they make propagation stations and have found ways to incorporate them stylishly into the design of their homes.
Propagation stations are great ways to showcase your plant growth while also keeping all the young plants together so you can monitor their growth and water levels. Check out the following ideas to get inspired in making your own propagation station!
Test Tubes on the Wall
Test tubes have become the go-to for propagation stations because they’re ideally shaped for holding plant clippings. The depth creates space for the roots to grow, yet the narrow mouth of the bottle keeps the clipping held up.
If you use a bottle that has a large mouth, the clipping might just fall in and if the whole thing is submerged, it will drown. Because test tubes are long, plant clippings can hang over the edge.
This design has test tubes held in small wooden blocks that are attached to the wall. Like this, they have space to hang down and work as wall decor!
Repurposed Candle Holder
Another type of container that works well for propagation are candle holders. These also have a narrow mouth that will prop up plant clippings.
Depending on the size of your plant clipping, you can use a very small container. As the clipping grows and the roots get larger, you’ll need more space, but for starting out you can use smaller bottles like a candle holder.
Here is another idea for creating a propagation station attached to a wall. You can take an old pizza pan and attach test tubes or bottles directly to the pan with glue. This idea is similar to the first one, except rather than putting bottles in wooden holders and attaching those to the wall, you attach all the bottles you want to use to the pizza pan and simply pin that to the wall.
Just make sure it’s securely attached to the wall so you don’t have a mess of water and plants on the ground. Once it’s up, just fill bottles with water and add in the plant clippings!
This photo beautifully shows how old liquor bottles can be reused to create a free propagation station. This is a perfect example of how propagation stations can be both practical, beautiful, and free!
Here, this person used old gin bottles after removing the labeling. Although, you can leave the label on if it adds an aesthetic touch! Design bonus for using colored glass bottles too.
You can do a design similar to the pizza pan idea, but with a wicker tray if that’s what you have to work with! In fact, it may even be easier to attach bottles to a wicker material than a metal pan.
Using a tray like this one, you can either glue bottles on or use crafting wire and fasten bottles to the tray. Otherwise, it’s the same steps as with the pizza pan idea: attach the tray to the wall and fill the bottles with water and plant clippings.
Chalkboard Painted Wall
One problem that has come up for people who propagate a lot of plants at once is that they begin to lose track of what’s what! If you have many clippings in one area and especially if the clippings look similar, it can definitely be easy to forget which plants you have where.
That’s where this idea for using a chalkboard wall came from. You may want to take note of what plants you have in each bottle, so attaching bottles to a chalkboard wall is an easy and stylish way to do so. For this idea, you can find chalkboard paint and paint a section or an entire wall with it, then attach bottles to place the clippings in.
Keeping track of clippings is especially important if you’re propagating crops to grow in your garden, as you’ll want to keep track of which plants you have growing so you know where to plant them when they’re ready. It’s also useful to keep track of how long clippings have been propagating, so you can keep a schedule of what you have growing.
This can also be helpful even if you’re just propagating houseplants. Keeping track of what you already have growing can help you determine if you want to propagate more of your favorites.
You can also dedicate an entire shelf for your propagation station! This idea is perfect if you already have shelf space or want to make your own shelf. You can fill all the shelves with bottles to propagate and just like that, you have a whole space filled with propagating plants.
Mirrored Propagation Station
If you don’t already know the design trick with mirrors, I’ll let you in: mirrors are a quick way to expand your space. If you like the look of having lots of plants, but don’t want to buy so many or aren’t feeling confident in your plant parent skills, using a mirror is a great way to give off the appearance that there’s lots of plants in your space.
You can use any mirror you already have or have found and just place it behind the bottles wherever you place them. If you do a shelf like the previous idea, you can put a mirror on the shelf with them.
Reclaimed Wood Stand
This idea is super easy to DIY and looks great! All you need is a piece of wood that you can decide how long you want it. The great thing about doing this propagation stand yourself is that you can decide what kind of wood you want, how many bottles you want to place in and how spaced out they are.
All that’s needed for this project is a piece of wood, bottles for propagation, and a drill to create the spaces for the bottles. Test tubes may be easiest for this since they would require smaller holes in the wood, but if you’re comfortable with woodworking, you can create holes in any shape you desire.
Test Tubes on the Wall
You can also just use test tubes and fix them directly onto the wall. Some designers have done this by using magnets, one on the wall and the other on the test tube. Others have drilled holes on the top of the test tube and drilled it into the wall. You can decide what works best for your space and the tools and skills you have!
This design will be a bit easier by cutting out the middle step of using an intermediary material to conjoin the test tubes and the wall. This also allows you the freedom to add however many you’d like and add more later if you want!
Hanging Lantern Turned Planter
Another beautiful option is to use a hanging lantern as a planter. Instead of keeping the candle holder in the lantern, empty it and fill with water and your plant clipping!
This will only work if you have a lantern that holds candles, because you can easily take the candle out. If you have an electric lantern with a lightbulb, putting in water and a plant isn’t a good idea! However, there is a way you can work with lightbulbs for plants…
Hanging Lightbulb Planter
This picture doesn’t exactly capture how to use lightbulbs for propagation, but you get the idea. As with test tubes, candle holders, and liquor bottles, lightbulbs are also great options for creative propagation bottles.
To use lightbulbs for a propagation station, you actually want to turn the lightbulb upside down from how it’s pictured here. You can use string to hang the lightbulb, then fill it with water and place in your clipping.
Mix and Match Bottles
This amazing example shows how beautiful a propagation station can be! You can find tons of antique bottles like these at second-hand shops and just start picking an array to put together. You can also just save bottles that you use from your kitchen and repurpose them for your propagation station.
By mixing together bottles of different shapes, colors, sizes, and design, you can easily put together a stunning propagation station for cheap or completely free!
Bottles in Macrame
Macrame hangings are beautiful boho decor anyways, so finding a way to turn them into a useful propagation station is double win.
With this example here, they just used a macrame hanging they already had and tied the ends to hang bottles for propagating. Most macrame hangings have loose strings at the end, so you can easily tie them and make little harnesses for your propagation bottles.
Hanging Jars with Rope
This idea is great if you don’t have space on your walls or counters to hold an entire propagation station. All you’ll need is bottles, rope, and something to attach the rope either to a shelf- like pictured here- or to the ceiling. For this you can buy an inexpensive hook.
Just take whatever bottles you want to use and tie rope around the mouth of the bottle. Loop the rope over the hook that you’re using to hang the bottles and just make sure this hook is well attached to whatever shelf or wall you’re using. Pretty simple!
Another idea that’s great for smaller propagation projects is just making kitchen magnets! You could do this very simply and just glue a magnet to a test tube or small bottle or you could add some fun designs to the magnets if you’d like!
Just realize that this project won’t work well with larger or heavy glass bottles. Test tubes or very small bottles- like from cosmetic products- will work, but anything heavier probably won’t stay on the fridge.
This is another sustainable option that uses crates that you would otherwise just recycle or maybe you found from a local shop. Very often, the crates that products are shipped in are just tossed, so this is a perfect way to put them to use!
If you have just one to work with, you can make a shelf, as in the picture- although there’s nothing stopping you from putting up several shelves! You can also just stack the crates on top of each other, either making a pyramid or square, and fill up the empty crates with bottles and plant clippings!
Fun Vases on the Wall
If you have some fun and funky vases you’d like to use, this is one way to put them to use and start a propagation station! This project will take a bit more craftsmanship, but will pay off in terms of aesthetics.
The idea is to take whatever vases you want to use and attach them directly to the wall. Very similar to the idea with test tubes on the wall, except the test tube design has a more modern and simple look whereas with this you can use really crazy vases and make standout wall decor.
You can attach them to the wall however you’d like- if you’re comfortable, you can drill them to the wall or buy an attachment.
This is a classic idea for propagation stations, perhaps because it’s just so simple. If you have a wide enough windowsill or a shelf just below the windowsill, use that space to propagate!
You can add in bottles and glass jars however you’d like- you can use bottles that are all uniform to create an organized look, or use a combination of bottles to create a jungle-esque look like in the photo.
Another viable option for bottles to use are wine bottles! Similar to how the narrow mouths of test tubes help keep the plant clippings upward, wine bottles also provide this support. Except with wine bottles, there’s much more space for the roots to grow.
This is another great idea for repurposing bottles that would otherwise just be recycled. Plus, to get started, all you need to do is drink some wine!
Kitchen Herb Garden
Herbs are some of the most commonly propagated plants because they regrow very easily. Plus, it’s always great to have fresh herbs on hand, so it makes sense to continuously propagate some.
If you have space in your kitchen, that would be great for starting a little herb propagation station, but realistically you could do this anywhere. That’s a great bonus about herb gardens, they aren’t super high maintenance and therefore are great for beginner gardeners.
In the same way that ladders make for great shelves for clothes or decor, they’re also great for holding lots of plants! If you have or found an old ladder to repurpose, this is a great and incredibly easy way to do so.
Hanging Planters from Reclaimed Wood
This project involves hanging bottles just like in one of the previous ideas, but rather than hanging them from a shelf or from the ceiling, attaching them to a large piece of reclaimed wood. In a way, the piece of wood becomes a shelf from which you can hang several strings to have hanging bottles.
If you have a banana rack in your kitchen that doesn’t really get used or you came across an old one, turn it into a mini hanging planter! This could be great if you live in a rented space where you can’t drill into the walls.
You won’t be able to create a whole propagation station out of this, unless you have multiple ones. But if you want something larger, check out the next idea.
A coat rack is perfect because it’s already assembled and attached to the wall, and has more places for hanging than a banana rack! Here you can follow the same steps for the other hanging ideas.
Hanging from the Ceiling
You can, of course, scrap the shelf or rack and just hang bottles straight from the ceiling! This can be a great option for a smaller space where you might not have space for shelves.
Just be careful not to spill the water or knock your head!
Propagation stations can be beautiful table centerpieces, especially if your home is full of plants anyways and you really take on the indoor jungle look. The way you style the centerpiece should depend on the style in your dining room or kitchen.
To keep a consistent look, just pick some jars that match the colors and style you already have. If your space is simple, you’ll probably just want one or two, but if you’re more boho, you can use several jars and make the space more eclectic.
Small shelves like this one are great tiny decorative touches that would be perfect for a small propagation station. Maybe it’s not your style to have a huge propagation station that takes over a whole shelf, but you could use just a small shelf like this.
Plus, with a shelf on the wall, there leaves space under for the plants to grow and hang.
Repurposed Bottle Carrier
If you manage to find an old bottle carrier like this one, this would be perfect for a large propagation station! The bottle dividers are perfect for keeping the bottles organized if you have many propagation projects going on.
As with the old bottle carrier, a spice rack also has the bonus of having built-in organization. You can use all the little bottles for propagating small clippings. A great way to display all your growing plants and keep them all in order!
Propagating is super easy and is a fantastic way to grow your home garden or houseplant collection. Propagating can be done with empty bottles and is a completely free way to expand the amount of plants you have.
All you need is water and a bit of attention, so it doesn’t take much gardening expertise. Plants grow roots pretty quickly, so you’ll have new plants soon and you can watch them grow.
I hope this post helped you learn about propagating and gave you some fresh ideas for starting a propagation station!
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.