General gardening topics

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

Last updated on January 21st, 2020

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There are 3 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 cutting or sowing seed. They include:

  1. Sowing seeds: the process which 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 cutting: the process of cutting part of an existing plant before or after it flowers and growing a new root structure and subsequently, 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, as hybrids are often sterile even if they do produce seeds. The easiest way to ensure you have good quality seeds 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

Best selling rockery plant seeds

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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 the individual pieces with their roots, and repot them in sandy compost, John Innes potting compost mixed with 30% grit should be 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. They will very rarely produce healthy plants.

Once you have the new shoot in hand, use a very sharp knife to make a very 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 such time as you noticed roots growing out of the cutting and they can be potted up into larger 9cm pots. We recommend growing them on in 9cm pots before planting 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 and employs 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 Rockey plants – the beginner’s guide

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Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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