General gardening topics

How to propagate alpines by dividing, from seed and by taking cuttings

Last updated on March 28th, 2022

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There are three ways you can propagate alpines successfully. The three methods used are incredibly similar to the method you would use for most other plants whether taking cuttings or sowing seeds. They include:

  1. Sowing seeds: The process removes seeds from alpines and cultivates new alpines from them. You can also buy rockery plant seeds from local garden centres and online.
  2. Dividing established plants: The process of lifting and dividing an existing plant is probably the easiest and a great way to spread existing plants into new areas.
  3. Taking cuttings: The process of cutting part of an existing plant before or after it flowers and growing a new root structure and subsequently, a new plant from it. This is probably the second easiest way after dividing.

Top 10 rockery plants for beginners

Propagating from Seed

Care spread the seeds over the surface of the soil and don't bury them

There are some species that like to reproduce on their own from seeds. Only true species are the likely candidates for this because hybrids are often sterile, even if they do produce seeds. The easiest way to ensure you have good quality seeds is by purchasing them from a reputable seed retailer.

The process is simple. You take the seeds from the plant after flowering or buy new seeds and then place them in a new container or seed tray with compost. They will start to develop their root system the same as other plants and can be moved outside after this is done. If you take the seeds at the end of summer, you should keep the new alpines indoors until the following spring, at which point you can move them outside and allow them to establish themselves in the garden before the flowering phase. 

Growing succulents from seeds

If you propagate at the end of the summer and then move them outdoors in autumn, they won’t have enough time to get established and store nutrients for the winter. 

Read our detailed guide on growing rockery plants from seed in this guide

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Propagating by dividing established plants

Dividing rockery plants is the easiest and fastest way to propagate alpines. You can use this method on older, established plants. Simply lift them out of the ground or the container right after they have finished flowering. Shake away as much soil from the roots as you can. Gently break the plant into individual pieces with their roots, and re-pot them in sandy compost, John Innes potting compost mixed with 30% grit is ideal. Certain plants like succulents will break off at natural points or nubs and can be re-potted easily. 

One particularly unique aspect of alpine plants is that most can be propagated by simply detaching a piece of the existing plant that has already formed roots and putting it directly into a new container or directly into the ground. If you have a large plant in the ground you can simply use a trowel or spade to cut a section off the existing plant ensuring you get as much root as possible.

Propagating with Cuttings

Succulents growing in seed tray ready for transplanting into new pots

You can also propagate rockery plants by taking cuttings. There are certain alpine plants that grow in a single crown from which the procumbent stems grow. In order to do this, you want to make a nodal cutting right at the soft tip for the new shoot.

Be selective about the shoots that you cut. You don’t want any that already has flower buds because these will very rarely produce healthy plants.

Once you have the new shoot in hand, use a very sharp knife to make a clean cut and remove the lower leaves. Put the cutting into seed compost or sand they should be placed closely together in small pots or trays with individual cells (as pictured above) and put in a ventilated area that is shaded and closed off from direct sunlight until you notice roots growing out of the cuttings and then they can be potted up into larger 9cm pots. We recommend growing them on in 9cm pots before planting them directly in the garden.

Read our detailed guide on how to take cuttings from succulents/alpines

Whichever of these three methods you use remember that it’s important to know which variety of alpine plant you have so that you can pick the most suitable option and employ the technique at the right time. Using the right technique at the right time will go a long way toward ensuring the success of your propagation.

How to care for alpine rockery plants – the beginner’s guide

Learn how to make a rockery step by step

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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