Can species reproduce asexually

Vegetative Propagation & Cuttings: Definition and Examples

The production of clones is part of everyday life in the plant world. So-called vegetative propagation can also make life easier for the hobby gardener.

Vegetative reproduction is also known as "asexual" or "asexual" reproduction. The plant organisms reproduce without the seeds resulting from fertilization. During the normal reproduction of flowering plants via seeds - also known as generative, sexual or sexual reproduction - a male pollen encounters a female egg cell. If these two components are compatible with each other, fertilization can occur and a plant may grow up from the resulting seed. With vegetative reproduction, on the other hand, a new plant emerges exclusively from dividing cells of the mother plant: completely without flowering, fertilization and formation of a seed. As a result, the genetic material of the offspring is identical to that of the mother plant. The vegetative reproduction thus creates clones. What is classified as an absolute taboo for animal organisms, plants even do in nature. Certain species have developed specific mechanisms with which they can reproduce vegetatively and no longer have to ensure their offspring through the formation of seeds.


Vegetative reproduction in plants

For the gardener, this is of great benefit in many ways. With the help of vegetative forms of reproduction, he or she can specifically clone and reproduce a plant with special properties. It also usually takes much less time for vegetatively propagated plants to flower or bear fruit, for example, than for plants propagated from seeds. And if certain plants do not develop seeds or if they germinate only very slowly, vegetative propagation offers a quick and easy way to circumvent this problem.

In horticultural production, however, this form of reproduction is usually only used if it absolutely does not work through sexual reproduction through sowing. The asexual reproduction of plants usually means significantly higher costs for the gardener than if the plant is propagated via seeds.

Vegetative propagation: examples

There are many different forms of vegetative reproduction. Not every plant can be propagated vegetatively in any arbitrary way. And not all forms occur in nature, because sometimes humans make use of the plant's abilities and force them to clone. Therefore, here is a brief overview of examples of vegetative reproduction and when the different forms occur:


Here individual shoots are tied down towards the earth and either completely sunk into the earth (offshoots) or only brought into contact with the earth at one point so that the tip of the shoots looks upright out of the earth (sinker). Roots form at the point of the shoot that is in contact with the ground. In the case of the sinker, this leads to an independent plant. Offshoots initially sprout, shoots shoot out of the ground and several independent plants can emerge from a discarded shoot.
Example: hazelnuts, haworthia


A shoot of a plant is deliberately injured. At the appropriate point, damp moss is wrapped in cling film. Roots form on the injured area and after a while the shoot below the newly formed roots can be cut off. The shoot is now able to feed itself and live as an independent plant.
Example: As an alternative to cuttings when the shoots are too lignified.

Foothills / Kindel

Runners are also called stolons. Side shoots develop from the mother plant. These end in a separate plant that also takes root. The side rungs can run above or below ground.
Example: strawberry (above ground)

Tubers and onions

Tubers are thickened plant organs like roots or underground shoots. On the one hand, they serve to store important substances and, on the other hand, a plant can develop from every single tuber. The same goes for onions. From a botanical point of view, this is a compressed shoot with thickened, low leaves. Most bulb plants produce so-called daughter bulbs all by themselves, which can grow into independent plants.
Example: potato (tuber), kitchen onion (onion)

In vitroMultiplication

The so-called in-vitro propagation is often used in biotechnology in specialized companies. Plants are grown from young, particularly actively dividing cells or other tissues. "In-vitro" means "in the glass" and describes the process of growing the plants from the small parts of the plant. These are used on certain substrates, which contain any substances for development, in an air-conditioned room with precisely defined conditions. This method is extremely promising, but unfortunately far too time-consuming for the hobby gardener.
If the exact conditions that a species needs in in-vitro culture are known, any species can be propagated using this method.

Rhizome division

Some plants form so-called rhizomes. These are subterranean shoot axes. The rhizomes with roots are often used. Since the underground shoots also have buds from which shoots can arise, it is possible to divide the rhizome of a plant and use it to create several new but identical plants.
Example: raspberries


Individual leaves, tips of shoots or parts of the stem axis can be taken from a plant. When placed in the substrate, some independent plants develop from these cuttings. The same applies here: Not every cutting method works for every plant. Cuttings are the most important vegetative form of propagation: If a mother plant is present, it can often be propagated easily, relatively quickly and with great promise by cuttings.
Examples: various herbs

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So-called grafting is also a way of asexual reproduction. The finishing itself is divided into different forms. In general, a part of a coveted plant, which is not easy to obtain via other types of propagation, is grafted onto a so-called base. Rootstocks are usually easy to grow with seeds or propagate using cuttings. Another advantage of the rootstock can be certain growth characteristics or disease resistance, which the coveted variety to be grafted cannot demonstrate. The plant parts that are grafted onto the base are, for example, parts of the shoot (grafting) or just individual buds that are planted in the bark of the base (budding).
Examples: fruit trees, cucumbers, tomatoes

There are other forms of vegetative propagation that can be carried out depending on the type of plant. However, the most important thing for gardening in your own garden is undoubtedly the propagation via cuttings. In the following we will take a closer look at this asexual reproduction.

Vegetative propagation - plants program themselves

The fact that new, independent plants can easily emerge from cut parts of plants is a great feature of nature. It is possible because the plants are able to reprogram cells, so to speak. Regardless of what function it had before, whether the cell belonged to a leaf, shoot or root, it can forget its function and become part of a new, completely different tissue.

When propagating cuttings, this can be seen in the fact that new roots suddenly grow from the shoot, although there are no cells present there that have anything to do with roots. This phenomenon is also known as the "totipotency" of living plant cells. The younger the cells, the better this reprogramming of plant cells usually works.

Basis for regrowing vegetables

The vegetative reproduction is therefore also the basis of the regrowing - i.e. the regrowth - of vegetable residues. For example, a clove can easily be removed from the garlic and pressed into the ground. With a little time, a new garlic bulb will grow. But even the herbs from the windowsill in the kitchen can be produced yourself with a little skill and the spicy supplies can be ensured.

The perfection of the regrowth of vegetable residues is achieved when the cut off upper parts of the plant from pineapple or kohlrabi are recycled. These parts of the shoot can also simply be put into the substrate instead of going into the organic waste bin. If this is kept well and evenly moist, roots will form from the cut surface in the substrate after a while and a new plant will grow up. The same goes for salads. If the lower, not really edible part of the head of lettuce is put into a well-moist substrate, another head of lettuce develops from it.

Basically, however, it is important to ensure that the material for vegetative propagation is not left in the corner for too long. The longer the storage, the more energy is dissipated and is no longer available for the development of a new daughter plant. At some point the tissue is no longer vital enough to regenerate and lead to successful asexual reproduction.

Curious? Then give it a try yourself! These 10 plants can easily be propagated by cuttings.

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I have a master’s degree in horticulture and am also a trained ornamental plant gardener. The subject of cultivation has just stuck with me since I was a child: whether on the small city window sill or in the spacious garden - I have to garden always and everywhere in my free time.
Favorite fruit: raspberries
Favorite vegetable: broccoli