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How To Propagate In Perlite [Step-By-Step Guide]

Have you been curious about propagating plant cuttings in perlite but you aren't sure where to start? Well, you've come to the right place. We've done the research to provide you with this step-by-step guide on propagating plants using perlite as your medium.

  1. Prepare your perlite and pot
  2. Get your cutting ready
  3. Place the cutting into the pot
  4. Keep in a humid and sunny environment

So what items should you have on hand to ensure successful propagation? And what exactly makes perlite such a good choice for propagation? Keep reading to learn all about growing cuttings in perlite.

Perlite as substrate with peat moss in the left and worm humus in the right, coming out of peat pots on a raw wooden background - How To Propagate In Perlite [Step-By-Step Guide]

Propagating With Perlite

Perlite is a sterile medium that will give cuttings the perfect safe and clean environment to take root and thrive.

It is created by heating volcanic glass until it puffs up into a fluffy mass which is then ground into varying levels of coarseness. It holds moisture reasonably well too, which is very important when propagating cuttings.

Perlite in a steel scoop for hydroponics vegetable

Perfect Plants Organic Perlite

This 8-quart bag of perlite is enough to tackle multiple projects. The bag is resealable to keep what you don't use fresh for next time.

Click here to see this perlite on Amazon.

Horticultural perlite in a pot-shaped container and potting soil made of peat, perlite and worm humus with peat pots and peppermint plants. Horizontal image with space for text. Substrates concept.

1. Prepare Your Perlite And Pot

Get your perlite ready by giving it a good rinse in fresh, cool, clean water to wet it and rinse away any dust that could be harmful if inhaled. Allow the perlite to drain for about half an hour before transferring it to the pot of your choice. Fill the container 1/4 of the way with the moistened perlite.

Bonivee Plant Nursery Pots

This set of 30 nursery pots is perfect for propagating cuttings. The humidity domes help keep your cuttings moist so they stay healthy and grow strong.

Click here to check out these nursery pots on Amazon.

Cuttings of geranium and stimulator. The breeding of plants with stimulator powder. Knife for cutting.

2. Get Your Cutting Ready

Use a clean pair of gardening scissors to take a cutting from a healthy mother plant. Try to choose a cutting of fresh growth and cut just below a node on the stem. Use a clean knife or razor to cut the clipping again—this time at the node—then dip this end into room temperature water and then root hormone.

Hormex Rooting Powder

This rooting hormone will help your cutting root faster and grow stronger. It comes in different strengths with formulas specialized for easy-to-root plants or hard-to-root plants.

Click here to take a look at this root powder on Amazon.

3. Place The Cutting Into The Pot

Gently grasp the cutting in the center and hold it in your container with its base hovering over the perlite at the bottom of the container.

Add more of the moistened perlite to the container until the pot is 3/4 of the way full. Keep the perlite loose around the cutting, using care not to compact it too much which can restrict root growth.

D'vine Dev Terracotta Planter Pots

These terracotta planters are adorable and come in different colors to fit in with your decor. They have drainage holes in the bottom which is important for propagating cuttings too.

Click here to see these planters on Amazon.

Planting new plants. Cuttings and shoots of geranium and pelargonium plants standing in water for root growth. Pelargonium seedlings at home.

4. Keep In A Humid And Sunny Environment

Cuttings need to be kept moist to grow properly. Using a cover like a humidity dome will keep the temperature, humidity, and environment stable, which is vital while the cutting is in such a fragile state.

Keep the cutting in an area that receives partial light until it grows a fresh set of leaves, then you can move it into brighter light.

Stonebriar 8-Inch Glass Dome

This humidity dome includes a wooden base that will help keep your gardening area tidy and clean by catching any perlite that might escape the planter. It also has a knob at the top for easy handling and removal. 

Click here to check out this humidity dome on Amazon.

Can You Grow Cuttings In Perlite?

Yes, perlite is an excellent choice for propagating cuttings and offers a suitable environment for cuttings to take root.

It offers an airy, sterile, and well-draining medium, which is exactly what is needed for a cutting to take root. Perlite also does well at retaining a low amount of moisture, which is also ideal for cuttings, which tend to prefer a humid environment.

Can You Grow In Just Perlite?

Most cuttings and even seeds can be started in perlite, but many plants will need to be moved to more suitable substrates to thrive.

Whether or not a plant will be able to survive in a medium of just perlite largely depends on the species. Not all plants will do well in a soilless environment, and many varieties depend on nutrients in the soil to remain healthy. 

Do You Water Plants In Perlite?

Yes, it's important to water plants in perlite regularly. Perlite doesn't hold moisture as well as soil, so you must keep a regular watering schedule to ensure your plant's health. This is especially true of fresh cuttings, which are very fragile until they begin to root.

Lithops, Succulent Plants in Bangkok

Can You Start Seeds In Perlite?

Yes, perlite is ideal for starting seeds since it's free from harsh nutrients like some potting soil mixes. Its loose, granular nature is also the perfect environment for seeds to begin growing roots easily.

Depending on the type of plant, it may need to be moved to a more suitable medium as it grows and begins to demand more nutrients.

How Can You Make Your Propagation Root Faster?

If your cuttings seem slow to take root, there are some things you can try to speed the process along. Warm soil can be a game changer when working with young cuttings or even plants started from seed.

A warming mat can help you achieve a good soil temperature, or you can try moving the plants to a warmer area in your home. 

Root hormones aren't a necessity when taking cuttings, but they do make a noticeable difference in the success rate of propagated plants. It's easy to use and helps stimulate root growth to speed up the process and create a healthier plant.

VIVOSUN Seedling Heat Mat

This seedling heat mat will work just as well for propagating cuttings by keeping the growing medium warm enough for optimal root growth. It's available in a variety of sizes to fit into your workspace perfectly.

Click here to take a look at this heating mat on Amazon.

How Long Does It Take For Roots To Grow In Perlite?

It typically takes 2-3 weeks for roots to develop on cuttings propagated in perlite. This is roughly the same as other soilless mediums and similar methods. Perlite does tend to encourage healthy root growth, but using root tone will help the roots start growing even faster.

Perlite as substrate with peat moss in the left and worm humus in the right, coming out of peat pots on a raw wooden background.

Do Plant Cutting Need Light To Grow?

Yes, plant cuttings should be kept in indirect light until they begin to grow more leaves. When you start to see fresh growth on the plant, you can start to move it into stronger light until it adjusts. Plant cuttings need light in order to grow roots since they depend on photosynthesis to supply energy for growth.

Why Do Cuttings Fail?

There are many reasons cuttings could fail, and it is quite common to see failed attempts at propagation, which is why it's recommended to take multiple cuttings.

Bacteria can cause the cutting to become sick and die, too much or too little water can cause it to fail, and even introducing it to too much or too little light can cause death. Cuttings are put through a major shock when they are cut from the mother plant, and until they establish their own roots, they are very fragile.

plant cuttings of rose flower rooted under plastic bottle in pot, greenhouse effect, propagation by cuttings, floriculture, vegetation

Can All Plants Be Propagated Through Cuttings?

No, some plants are not able to be propagated through cuttings. Tomato plants and marigolds are examples of this phenomenon, and there are others as well. Most plants can be grown from cuttings, but not all, so make sure you do your research on the plant before you prepare to propagate.

Can You Propagate A Plant Forever?

Yes, as long as the plant remains healthy and continues to grow, you can continue to take cuttings from it. Try not to overwhelm a mother plant by taking too many cuttings at once. Take a few cuttings at a time and work out a schedule that gives the mother plant time to recover in between.

In Closing

Now that you know all about propagating plants in perlite, you're ready to start preparing for your next gardening project. Don't forget to research the plant species to ensure success and learn its requirements before you begin. Good luck, and have fun with your garden experiments!

To learn more about perlite and other soil additives and alternatives, read our article: Vermiculite Vs Perlite Vs Pumice: Pros, Cons, And Differences

If you want to learn more about working with perlite and are interested in hearing tips and tricks, read our article: Perlite Rising To Top Of Soil – Why And What To Do?