How to Propagate Purple Heart Plants with Simple Steps

Written by Ivy

Jan 13 2023

How to Propagate Purple Heart Plants with Simple Steps

By using a stem cutting from any part of the plant, purple hearts are very simple to propagate. The fragile stems easily break when brushed against or kicked, but even the broken pieces can take root as long as they have leaf nodes.

Before putting it in damp soil or a vase of water, dip the cut end in rooting hormone. For 1-2 weeks, keep purple hearts in a warm, well-lit area. Put the plants in a container of your choice once you notice roots or new growth.


What You'll Need to Get Started

A basic set of everyday gardening tools that you're likely to already have on hand is required for every propagation project. A neighborhood garden shop should have everything you need, with the exception of a few of the less common purple heart propagation techniques. Here are the things you'll need and what you'll use them for.

Plant Shears

Successful plant propagation requires a sturdy, accurate set of plant shears. You can always use a fresh razor blade in place of them if you don't have a pair of sharp kitchen scissors on hand. Make sure your blades are free of rust.

Sanitation is another crucial aspect of using any kind of blade to propagate plants. At the very least, blades should be clean or sterile. To get shears that are clean enough to use for cuttings, you can employ a number of techniques.

Rubbing Alcohol

Speaking of clean shears, rubbing alcohol is by far the best method for sanitizing your propagation tools and pots. Work surfaces, accidental finger nicks, and a long list of other things can all be cleaned with this stuff. You see, this stuff is inexpensive, and there's really no excuse not to keep some on hand.

Any substance that contains 70% or more of alcohol is suitable for cleaning. Although these are a little messier and don't just evaporate away, hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice are other helpful cleaners.

Growing Medium

Even though this one is fairly obvious, we'll still discuss it. For purple heart, you can use any kind of growing medium you like, including leca, soil, water, moss, and whatever else comes to mind. Purple heart will root in anything that can hold water.

Use a soil with a good ratio of perlite for soil propagation. As long as the soil contains some larger chunks to help prevent over- or underwatering, the more perlite the better. If you want to root any plant, perlite is your best friend.

Moss and some kind of twine or string made for gardening are required if you plan to air layer. Check to see if the moss you use hasn't been dyed, treated, or in any other way made water resistant. There is no way that it will succeed. Gather enough to form a 2" diameter moss ball in your hand.

Rooting Hormone

Rooting hormone is available in both powder and liquid forms, but the powdered version keeps better and lasts longer. By applying this to fresh cuts, a cutting can develop roots much more quickly and receive enough growth hormones to support itself throughout the process.

Air layering is also significantly simplified by it. The production of new roots by a node and their subsequent growth are both sped up by rooting hormone. Even though it isn't required, it's a nice tool to have for propagation success.

Jars Or Pots

You'll need a container to put your new cuttings in depending on whether you want to use the soil or water propagation method. For planters, aim for smaller sizes, like 4" plastic grower pots. These are durable and aid in retaining moisture where the roots are most in need of it.

To propagate plants in water, locate some glass jars or vases that can hold cuttings standing up while only submerging the bottom inch or two of the cuttings. This application really benefits from vases with smaller openings. Now is the time to use any extras you may have lying around.

When to Propagate Purple Heart

It is best to propagate purple hearts in the spring or summer, when the plant is in a growing season. The healthiest, most recent shoots for making cuttings will result from this. The plant can then easily swap out those cuttings or direct more energy toward other shoots.

When you have a lot of foliage to choose from, only then should you take cuttings of this plant. Although it may be tempting to propagate a small plant, young plants take longer to recover after losing nodes than established ones.

For purple hearts grown outdoors or indoors, try to take cuttings no more frequently than twice a year. Even though purple hearts can be propagated year-round indoors, it's still best to follow the growing seasons! (Read More: Purple Heart Plant Care)

How to Take Cuttings from Purple Heart

Like the majority of plants that can be grown from cuttings, purple heart has a node at each location where a leaf is developing. The base of each leaf has a small, bulbous lump where cells that can form roots are dormant. This is how you can tell if something is of this type.

You will make your cuts with great care at these nodes. Just below the node where you want your cutting to begin, quickly and carefully slice through the stem with a sharp, clean blade. A good place to start is usually three nodes in.

For succulent-like plants, like purple heart, it is best to cut at a 45-degree angle; the more space there is for roots to grow from, the better. This particular angle isn't necessary, though. Simply put, doing this increases the likelihood that your cuttings will root more quickly.

Following the removal of your cuttings from the parent plant, you can start to propagate them using whichever technique suits you the best. What to do with these cuttings will be covered next.

Types of Propagation

Purple heart is a great candidate for a variety of propagating strategies, but we'll focus on the three most popular ones in this article. If there is a propagation experiment here you haven't tried yet, this plant is ideal for it since it grows so quickly!

Each of the three propagation techniques we'll discuss has a set of steps that you should follow. If you're a beginner, make sure you read through before you begin your propagation project so that you have a solid understanding of how it functions!

Here are the propagation methods that we will be covering in this article:

  • Soil propagation
  • Water propagation
  • Air layering propagation

Soil Propagation Method

Obtaining more purple heart plants at once couldn't be simpler. They transfer directly from the plant to the pot, and even though they require a little more care initially than fully grown plants, they nicely spruce up a space.

For this method of propagation, have some well-draining pots with moist soil available. These should be filled with moistened soil—not with standing water—but with sufficient moisture. Later on, drainage will be crucial. Here's how it's done.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

By getting everything prepared before you start, you can avoid the frantic running around in search of supplies. Make sure the area you're working in is tidy, dry, and free of any contaminants.

You should also clean all of your tools at this time. It's crucial to keep everything clean and free of microbial hitchhikers because any stray bacteria or fungi spores on your tools from other plants can make cuttings sick and die before they can put out roots.

Step 2: Locate Your Cuts

After gathering everything, decide where you want to make cuts on your purple heart plant. Look for nodes that have at least two leaves above them. Once you've identified your preferred cutting locations, mark them with string or twine to help you remember where to cut.

Avoid taking too many cuttings from a single plant at once; while this works well for producing many plants at once, it causes the original plant unnecessary stress and forces it to expend more energy on replacing the lost foliage.

Step 3: Making the Cuts

Now that you're prepared, leap! Cut between the nodes at an angle using shears or a clean, sharp blade. Avoid cutting into the node you're rooting, but also make an effort not to harm the node still present on the plant from which you took the cutting. With the same blade, remove the leaf at the bottom where the lowest node is located.

Once you've collected all of your cuttings, you can use honey or cinnamon to treat the original plant's open wounds and ward off infection. This is optional, but it can ultimately save you a lot of time and money trying to save a sick plant!


Step 4: Rooting Hormone

The rooting hormone should now be applied to your cuttings. Gently dunk each cutting's open cut and the bottom centimeter or so of the stem into the rooting hormone powder. From here, you can either let them sit for a short while or start planting right away.

Allowing these dipped cuttings to sit for a few minutes gives the plant a chance to make a thin "scab" layer that will protect it from any soil-borne illnesses. This won't be a problem if you use steamed soil. It merely increases the cuttings' chances of rooting, but it is not required.

Step 5: into the Soil

Your cuttings are ready to be planted in the pots of moist soil you have made now that they have all been clipped and dipped. These should have a diameter of three to six inches, which is relatively small. Verify that there is no debris or water standing in the soil.

Push your cuttings into the ground so that the bottommost leaf is just visible above the soil's surface to begin planting them. Even though the cutting ought to be able to stand on its own in the soggy soil, you might need to assist it by burying a stick or plant tag to provide support.

Step 6: Water Them In

After placing all of your cuttings in their appropriate pots, give each one a quick spritz of water to help the soil around the delicate new cuts settle in. The water must remain at least damp for the first week; after that, you can turn it down even further.

Your cuttings will develop a small root system in just two to three short weeks. You can water your new plant as often as you watered your original one at this point. Cuttings adjust to being in their own containers more quickly if the watering schedule is kept the same as it was for the parent plant.

Water Propagation Method

While there are a few extra steps, growing purple hearts in water is just as simple as growing them in soil. Purple plants can grow more quickly in pots by being propagated in soil, but growing them in water allows you to see the roots develop.

The water propagation process is not only more enjoyable when you can see the roots develop, but it also makes for distinctive and lovely decor. You have a gorgeous vase or jar for the next few weeks with purple foliage cascading over the sides.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You'll need your supplies, including shears, rooting hormone, and a jar or vase, to get everything set up. If there is any water that needs to be cleaned up, have some paper towels on hand. You should use clean, fresh water to fill your jars.

Rubbin' alcohol or warm, soapy water can be used to clean or sanitize your tools. This stops any creepy fungi or bacteria from contaminating your cuttings. For the same reason, your workspace should be spotless.

Step 2: Cutting the Plants

When searching for a good location to cut, look for a node that produces two or three leaves or more after the node you are currently cutting at. To separate the cutting from the stem, make the cut at an angle in one swift motion.

The open wound on the original plant can then be treated with a dab of honey or cinnamon to stop infection from anything hiding in the soil if you want to keep your original plant healthy.

Step 3: Prep the Cuttings for Water

Use a razor-sharp blade or pair of shears to cut the leaf off the bottom node, leaving one leafless node at the base of the cutting. It is more difficult to root because this node will be responsible for carrying all of the weight during the rooting process.

If the bottom leaf is left on, it will probably fall off sooner or later. Be careful not to let any of the leaves touch the water because they will all rot if they are submerged in it.

Step 4: Rooting Hormone

Even though purple heart will still root without it, rooting hormone makes the process go more quickly, greatly increasing the likelihood that the plant will survive as a cutting. Getting roots established as soon as possible is crucial because without them, the plant cannot absorb much water.

Simply cover the new wounds with a film to help protect them from pathogens by dipping the bottom centimeter of the cutting into the rooting powder. When the allotted time has passed, place your cuttings in water so that only the stem—not the leaves—is submerged.

Step 5: Water Maintenance

Fresh water is required for the duration that your cuttings are housed in a jar or vase if they are submerged in water. Every few days, change the water your purple heart cuttings are in, and check for debris or algae.

If the water does turn out to have algae in it, you can remove the cuttings, wash the container with soapy water, and then re-add the cuttings. Although cuttings cannot withstand any kind of soap or algae treatment, this at least keeps the algae at bay until you can plant your cuttings. This does not stop the algae from returning.

Air Layering Method

This approach is gorgeous and a lot of fun! While finding a plant that can be air layered is difficult, the actual air layering process is simple. If you haven't already, this is a great way to broaden your repertoire of propagation techniques.

The cutting can maintain its connection to the mother plant while developing roots thanks to air layering. If you have the patience, it makes for a more successful cutting because a cutting is never taken from the plant without roots!

You'll also need a pair of clean, sharp shears or a razor blade, some kind of twine, plastic wrap, and moss that can hold moisture for this project. Additionally, rooting hormone can be used to help the cutting understand what is happening and grow roots more quickly.


Step 1: Gather Your Materials

To ensure the success of this propagation project, everything must be in one location. Before beginning, make sure you have everything you'll need, including any supplies you might need later, like paper towels or rubbing alcohol.

To get rid of any bacteria or fungal spores that may have traveled with your other plants, clean all the tools you'll be using with rubbing alcohol or warm, soapy water. You'll want the healthiest cuttings you can get without contaminating the mother plant.

Step 2: Locate a Node

Finding a node where you won't miss a significant portion of the plant is the goal of the majority of other propagation techniques. Although the concept is the same, since your cutting won't be taken from the plant for a few weeks, you can actually go a little further.

As much as possible, try to have three nodes or more above the area you plan to air layer. As a result, you can start with a bigger plant and it won't grow to the point where it eats up half of the original plant.

Step 3: Open the Node

First, use some rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab or paper towel to clean the outside of the stem before starting to open the node. In addition to any nearby stem that touches the node, clean the node on all sides. Grab your shears or razor blade after cleaning up any contaminants.

Use a very gentle cutting motion to just barely remove the top layer of the stem from one end of the node to the other in order to remove the node's outermost layer of tissue. . The lesion shouldn't be deeper than a millimeter; the goal is to remove just a tiny portion in order to encourage roots to emerge from the lesion.

Step 4: Rooting Hormone

You should now have a section of stem the size of a node that is stem-free on the outside. Apply rooting hormone to the entire length of the cut portion of your node at this point using a cotton swab or a gloved finger.

Without the rooting hormone, the plant might decide to give up and drop that portion of itself in an effort to protect its own life and valuable resources. Because purple heart reacts favorably to rooting hormone, it should respond favorably to this procedure in almost any environment.

Step 5: Moss Wrap

Now that the moss has been moistened, you can begin to assemble a nice, sturdy ball about the size of your fist. It should have just enough moisture to retain some bounce but not be dripping wet. It's time to apply the moss ball to the open node once it's ready.

Make sure the node is completely covered in moss as you carefully wrap the moss ball around it. The moss ball can be held in place using twine, but don't wrap it too tightly. Use just enough twine to hold the moss ball securely in place without actually holding it.

Step 6: Plastic Wrap

Wrap the moss ball in enough plastic wrap to secure it at both ends in order to preserve moisture and create a sort of miniature greenhouse environment. When rooting, there should be just enough plastic to keep moisture in, but not so much that you can't add more if necessary.

To finally hold the moss ball in place, carefully fasten the plastic wrap with your twine at both ends. If you want to add some mist to the moss in case it dries out, tie the top end so it can be untied with ease. This can be accomplished with a simple slipknot.

Step 7: Rooting Time

A purple heart needs between 6 and 8 weeks to develop a root system strong enough to support a larger cutting. During this time, be sure to frequently check the moss's moisture level and never allow it to completely dry out. Any roots have a good chance of being destroyed if the moss dries out.

Once a strong root system is apparent, you can cut the cutting at the base of the subsequent node to leave a small portion of stem underneath the roots. For simpler potting, feel free to shorten that stem, but avoid chopping any roots.

Potting a Purple Heart Cutting

You should have some brand-new purple heart babies once you've multiplied your purple heart using your preferred method! They can now be inserted into their new pots because they have robust, healthy root systems.

Use perlite or vermiculite-containing soil to pot a fresh purple heart cutting so that the roots are supported. Whether it's a small plastic grower pot or a decorative container with good drainage, aim for a container that is roughly twice the size of the new root cluster. Purple hearts are killed by root rot in pots without drainage holes, so avoid using those.

In order to prevent them from falling over when you water them for the first time, pot up your cuttings into their pots and give them some support. To do this, you can use anything that is currently in your possession, like a pencil or a popsicle stick.

Your cuttings should begin establishing in their new locations after a few weeks of receiving plenty of water and bright, indirect light! Give them the same attention you gave to their original plant: bright, indirect light, moderate to light watering.

Every six months, fertilize your new plants with a diluted mixture of fertilizer that is properly balanced. Any cactus, succulent, or houseplant fertilizer will work. Enjoy your new purple heart plants, family!


Stem cuttings are a simple way to multiply purple hearts. Cut a stem between three and six inches long, with at least one growth node, when propagating purple heart plants. Use clean, sharp scissors to cut the stem. Make sure the stem is exposed for at least 2 inches by removing the lower leaves from it. Before planting the stem in soil or a pot with sterile potting mix, dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone mixture and soak it in water until roots form.