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What are the best products for propagating indoor plants? [Reviewed]

This feels a bit back-to-front. Normally my free plant care guides are all about helping you fix what's wrong, including what to do (and not to do), all with the goal of having happier, healthier indoor plants you can be proud of. The products that help you do that are just a means to an end. But this one's a little different for you. This time I'm putting the spotlight on the products first.

best-products-propagating-indoor-plants


In the 'Great NZ Plant Parent Survey' over 860 New Zealand indoor plant hobbyists shared their plant parent journey. Over 89% said they have propagated their plants before, but over 55% said they want to learn more about propagation. One of the many things I love about our hobby is that you never stop learning. 


So coming up below is exactly that. Both a run-down and review of the best propagation products to help you get your grow on - but before we get to the reviews - there's also a round-up of the top 3 propagation guides...

 

how-to-propagate-indoor-plants-water


Learn more: How to propagate indoor plants in water >

 

parts-of-a-plant-node-aerial-root


Learn more: Parts of a plant to know before you cut!

growth-hack-roots


Learn more: The natural hack to speed up root growth >

 
Best propagation products reviewed


Now you know where to chop, and have upskilled on propagation, here are the best-selling propagation products reviewed, what they do, and whether they live up to the hype. From dips and powders to potions that all promise to boost your propagation success.


Also provided is when and how to use each product in the 3 main stages of propagation. The first stage before root growth starts, such as a fresh cutting, the second stage once root growth starts, and the third stage when a cutting, corm or pup is ready to pot up. 


Reviewed in this guide
: Yates Clonex, GT CCS (Clonex Clone Solution), Groconut, Sunroots, IBAdex, Dyna-Gro KLN and HB-101. 


Yates Clonex

yates-clonex-review

What it does: Seals and protects fresh stem cuttings + speeds up initial root growth.

What's in it? Root growth hormones, anti fungal agents, vitamins and minerals in a gel base.

How do you use it? Dip the end of fresh cuttings in the gel before propagation.

Stage of propagation: First stage. After cutting, before transferring to rooting substrate (eg: water, perlite), before initial roots develop.

 

Clonex review


This purple goo is my first go-to product every time I propagate. It's a liquid-gel designed to 'dip and grow'. The claims are pretty impressive but this definitely is a product that lives up to the hype. And has done so for more than 20 years. Clonex is sold under the Yates brand here in New Zealand, and is made by the same folks behind Growth Technology (GT), just over-the-fence in Australia.


Clonex is a 2-in-1 formula. Most planty people use it to speed up initial root growth of cuttings, but less well known is that it also seals and protects fresh cut stems. Not much point worrying about roots if the stem rots before the roots can even get started!


As well as being an anti-fungal agent, to protect the stem from root rot and other fungal and microbial nasties, Clonex also instantly seals the cut tissue, preventing bad bacteria or diseases getting in, and stopping embolism. Embolism is the fancy name for when air gets in and blocks the stem from taking up water.

 

The verdict?


I'd call Clonex a must-have for slow-to-root plants, for valuable or rare plants, and for propagating in winter, or in less than ideal conditions. Sure, some plants you barely turn around and roots start growing (I'm looking at you Pothos). For them I wouldn't call Clonex essential. But it certainly does no harm if you do want to use it on everything you propagate. This one's worth the hype.

You can shop Yates Clonex here >

 

GT CCS (Clonex Clone Solution)

gt-growth-technology-ccs-clones-clone-solution

What it does: Promotes faster root growth in the early stages of root growth. Promotes growth of stronger, bigger, healthier roots. Reduces transplant stress. Speeds up transition from water to soil roots. Helps roots recover after damage.

What's in it? A complete fertiliser and root booster in one. All 12 essential minerals plus vitamin B1 and root growth hormones, in a liquid concentrate.

How do you use it? Dilute with water. Once diluted, can be used as the nutrient solution for water propagation, in water reservoir for semi-hydro, or for watering propagation substrates. Works even better when used in conjunction with Clonex gel.

Stage of propagation: Second and third stage. Start use as soon as the first signs of roots appear (second stage), right through until potting up (third stage). 

 

GT CCS review


With how good Clonex is, it probably comes as no surprise that #2 on the list also lives up to the hype. You'll normally see this one called 'CCS' which stands for Clonex Clone Solution. Made by the same company who formulated Clonex 20+ years ago. And wow, does CCS get rave reviews. I'm talking spring-level growth in winter. It feels like magic how much faster cuttings root with this stuff in the water.


As soon as those first little root nubs appear, you want to start feeding something if you want to give your new plant the best start in life. If that something happens to be both complete, and balanced, even better.

If that something also includes calcium, you're on to a winner (yes, CCS is complete, balanced and includes calcium). No calcium is a big gap most fertilisers don't fill. Even though calcium is essential. But growing new roots, stems and foliage is when calcium matters the most. Without it you'll see smaller, weaker new growth


And no, water alone won't cut it for the best success with propagation, nor will the usually nutrient-free mediums used for propagation (like perlite). If you've ever had a cutting start off great, only to come to a grinding halt and do nothing, that's often because it's used up its stores of minerals it had from the mother plant to fuel initial growth, and is now running on fumes. You need to refuel with fertiliser.


I think because so many hobbyists are long-term Clonex fans, that how to use CCS gets a bit confusing. But if you think of it more like a fertiliser (which it is), and less like a rooting gel, you're on the right track.


It's a liquid concentrate that you dilute with water just like most fertilisers. I personally use 5mls per 1 litre water from the moment those first root nubs appear, right through to potting up. You can keep also keep using CCS for a few weeks following potting up to help the plant transition from water roots to soil roots, and to help roots recover faster from transplant stress.

 

A warning


Just remember there isn't much like CCS on the market. In fact nothing I've found yet. So whereas pretty much everything else used for propagation is added to your fertiliser routine, CCS is the exception. It DOES replace your fertiliser. Don't make the mistake of keeping up your usual fertiliser routine as well as using CCS, or you'll overdo it and risk fertiliser burn (and waste a whole lot of extra fertiliser down the sink).

 

The verdict?


Right now (and I can't see this changing in the future), the Clonex + Clonex Clone Solution combo is my holy grail. This is one you have to try for yourself. It's that dramatic a difference. But do you have to add CCS to your propagation supplies? No.

By all means use your usual fertiliser instead. Even seaweed is better than nothing. You don't have to use Clonex either for that matter. But don't starve your new baby plant and go without any fertiliser at all (a common mistake newbies make when first propagating, which I did wrong too at first). 


You can get GT Clonex Clone Solution here > 

 

Groconut

groconut-review

 

What it does: Promotes faster growth of roots and leaves.  

What's in it? Plant growth hormones from coconut water (in powder form). Organic. 100% natural.

How do you use it? Dilute powder with water. Once diluted, leave fresh cutting soaking in Groconut solution for 30 minutes to 1 hour maximum. When cutting is ready to pot up, water with diluted Groconut to help reduce transplant stress.

Stage of propagation: First and third stage. Soak fresh cuttings (first stage), and potting up (third stage).

 

Groconut review


This is one seriously popular product. Usually used as a growth booster when feeding established plants, mixed in with fertiliser, but often overlooked for how great it is for propagation too. Keep in mind either way, that Groconut is a growth booster, not a complete fertiliser, so does not replace your fertiliser, and you should keep up your usual fertiliser routine.


Groconut is a powder made from freeze-dried coconut water. Naturally high in the 3 key plant growth hormones, auxin, cytokins and gibberellin, plus trace minerals like potassium.


Used for propagation, you can soak fresh cuttings in Groconut for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Follow with a quick dip in Clonex to seal in all those lovely growth hormones.

 

The verdict?


I was a huge Groconut fan (I still am), however propagating on a bigger scale means unless you have access to wholesale, or at least to the big 350gram tub, it can get costly as this isn't cheap to use.


One teaspoon is about $1.70, and the dose for a propagation soak is 1 teaspoon 
per litre of water. I'm not going to try and convince you to spend your plant pennies on this when propagating on a budget, but if you don't propagate often, or just want to do the best you can, give Groconut a go.


Also keep in mind when using Groconut for established plants the dose is lower so it costs less. When mix-feeding with fertiliser, you can use as little as a 1/4 teaspoon per litre of water, which works out around 60 cents a litre.


I do think it's worth trialling to see the difference it makes for propagation, budget allowing. Make the most of every spoonful by taking multiple cuttings at once for one big bath-time together
The new, larger 350gram tub works out closer to $1 per teaspoon too which helps.


Groconut is also one of the few growth boosters that's all-natural and organic (there's one more coming up on this list). To make the most of it, rather than use it every time you water established plants, I would save this gold-dust only for propagation, or for established plants that need some TLC rather than your entire jungle. 


You can shop Groconut here > 

 

Dyna-Gro KLN

dyna-gro-kln-review


What it does:
 Promotes faster root growth when propagating. Aids root recovery after damage or transplanting.  

What's in it? Plant growth hormones IBA and NAA in a liquid concentrate.

How do you use it? Dilute with water. Soak cuttings in more concentrated KLN solution for 10 to 15 minutes, then place stems in more diluted KLN solution. When cutting is ready to pot up, water with diluted KLN.

Stage of propagation: All stages. Soak fresh cuttings (first stage), grow in KLN solution (second stage), and potting up (third stage).

 

Dyna-Gro KLN review


As a Dyna-Gro fertiliser fan from way back, you will find KLN in my plant cupboard. For plants on a Dyna-Gro regimen this fits in perfectly. Note that it is a root booster, not a complete fertiliser, so won't replace Foliage Pro, Grow or whichever Dyna-Gro fertiliser is your go-to. 


If soaking new cuttings in Groconut appeals, but is out of budget, KLN is your solution. It may seem expensive at around $39 for 200mls, but is so concentrated it makes for a much more affordable soak for cuttings at around 80 cents per litre. When soaking cuttings, dilute KLN at 4mls per 1 litre water and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. That's double the usual dose by the way. 


Normally you use KLN at 1ml to 2mls per 1 litre water, making it a very affordable 20 to 40 cents per litre. Like most of the products on this list, you can also get it in larger sizes, but unless growing on a massive scale, 1ml to 4mls per litre of water means a little bottle goes a long way.


After soaking 
in the stronger KLN solution, transfer to a growing medium saturated with KLN solution, diluted at 1 to 2mls KLN per 1 litre water, or grow in KLN diluted with water at that lower rate. You can go up as high as 4mls KLN per 1 litre for harder-to-root cuttings too.


You can also use KLN when it's time to pot up, and when repotting established plants, as it helps roots handle and recover from transplant stress and damage faster. A good one for plants recovering from root rot also. Remember to mix-feed KLN with your usual fertiliser.

 

The verdict?


KLN was missing from the NZ market for quite some time so the hype died down, but it is one of those 'if you know you know' products. KLN can be mix-fed with any fertiliser, but is formulated to play nicely with other Dyna-Gro products like Foliage-Pro fertiliser and ProTekt silicon supplement.


If you're already one of the many hard-core Dyna-Gro fans, keep it in the family and make this your go-to for propagation. Plus it's formulated within the same dose range as the rest of the Dyna-Gro products so is very concentrated, making it more affordable than it seems.


Since it can be used in all 3 stages of propagation, it also replaces using multiple products. If your plant supplies cupboard or drawer is as packed as mine, it's an added bonus that you only need small bottles when it comes to all Dyna-Gro products. More room for other planty goodies! 


Bonus tip: Use KLN with ProTekt. Using ProTekt is a game-changer either way. It provides plants with silicon (aka "Nature's Bodyguard"), which all fertilisers are missing. 


Dyna-Gro KLN is available here >

 

Sunroots

sunroots-review 

What it does: Promotes faster, initial root growth in stem cuttings.

What's in it? Root growth hormone IBA in a gel base.

How do you use it? Dip the end of fresh cuttings in the gel before propagation.

Stage of propagation: First stage. After cutting, before transferring to rooting substrate (eg: water, perlite), before initial roots develop.

 

Sunroots review


Sunroots comes from the kiwi duo behind Sunbulb grow lights. Similar to Clonex, it's a 'dip-and-grow' gel formula that gives stem cuttings a boost of plant growth hormones to kick-start root growth.


Like IBAdex, Sunroots is a source of IBA, a synthetic version of the same natural growth hormone plants produce, but in an almost instantly absorbable form that gets to work to promote root growth fast in cuttings.


It certainly does what it says. I've even experimented with the same cuttings from the same stem, with and without a dip, and with means they start rooting much faster every time. Sunroots can be used with both water or solid substrates like perlite and fern fibre. 

 

The verdict?


Although I've only recently started selling Sunroots, I've been using it myself since it first came out when Sunbulb kindly sent me a sample jar to try (thanks guys!). I'll happily use this or Clonex interchangeably (is that a word?), but if you have one, I don't think there's a need to have both in your plant cupboard.


Shop Sunroots here >

 

Dyna-Gro KLN review


As a Dyna-Gro fertiliser fan from way back, you will find KLN in my plant cupboard. For plants on a Dyna-Gro regimen this fits in perfectly. Note that it is a root booster, not a complete fertiliser, so won't replace Foliage Pro, Grow or whichever Dyna-Gro fertiliser is your go-to. 

 

IBAdex

egmont-ibadex-review

What it does: Creates a callous to seal and protect fresh cuttings + speeds up initial root growth.

What's in it? Root growth hormone IBA in powder form.

How do you use it? Dip the end of fresh cuttings in the powder before propagation.

Stage of propagation: First stage. After cutting, before transferring to rooting substrate (eg: water, perlite), before initial roots develop.

 

IBAdex review


IBAdex is a powdered rooting hormone that you dip your cuttings in to, then plant straight into substrate to initiate root growth faster. IBAdex gets its name from Indole-3-butyric acid, or IBA for short (much better than that mouthful). IBA promotes growth and development of roots, flowers and fruits, and increases yield.


IBA is closely related 
in structure and function to a growth regulator found naturally in plants, but in its natural form, plants can't break IBA down as quickly to access it, so IBAdex gives them a growth boost in a more immediately accessible form. 


For propagation, I use IBAdex as a dip when it's advised to let a cutting callous over before putting up. It helps cuttings callous faster, instead of having to leave them out. Leaving them out in the air to callous naturally also increases the risk of disease or bad bacteria getting in, as well as embolism from air. 


The same as Clonex gel, IBAdex does not replace fertiliser. As soon as those first root buds appear, start fertilising. My go-to right now is GT CCS because it's a root booster and fertiliser in one. Rooting powder alone won't meet your plants needs once those roots start growing. Keep in mind also that the mainly inorganic, free-draining substrates we often prop our cuttings in is also largely deficient in nutrients at a time our babies need more than usual.


During the early vegetative stage (that's when a plant is focused on roots, stem and leaf production), plants have a higher nitrogen requirement (that's a macro nutrient). But also matters is those micro nutrients. For example, during formation of new cells, calcium is needed in a big way (but in small amounts). 


Except the problem is some nutrients can move around to where they're needed - like nitrogen. But some are immobile - like calcium. So once there's a deficiency, that's it for the life of that cell in the affected root, stem or leaf. No fixing that later. Your plant needs it at the time they're putting out new growth. 


The moral of the story is a rooting hormone like Clonex (gel) or IBAdex (powder) only gets you so far. When choosing the fertiliser to use once roots start, look for one that's complete (including calcium).

 

Keep in mind also with both products, that the growth hormones they provide are almost immediately absorbed by the fresh-cut end of the stem, so whether you propagate in water, or in a substrate like perlite or fern fibre, if excess gel or powder comes off, the plant has still gained what it needs to initiate root growth faster. 

 

The verdict?


I have both Clonex and IBAdex in my plant cupboard. They are both used at the first stage on fresh cuttings, but the differences is more than just 'one's a gel ' (Clonex), and 'one's a powder' (IBAdex).


For most of my cuttings my go-to is Clonex but I keep IBAdex on hand for cuttings that do better if they callous first. I do also like that waste and mess are minimal with IBAdex as the powder sticks to the fresh cut end and the rest stays in the jar. With Clonex you end up half-shaking, half-wiping off a lot of excess gel, which shouldn't be put back in the jar for fear of contamination.


Plus it has to be said that IBAdex is much more budget-friendly. Around half the price (under $8 for IBAdex instead of over $16 for Clonex in the smallest size of each). Either way, a little goes a long way with both products, so one jar will likely last you a very long time whether you choose Clonex or IBAdex, but IBAdex doesn't have the same range ingredients or benefits as Clonex which the price also reflects. 


You can shop IBAdex here >

 

HB-101

hb-101-review


What it does:
 Growth booster for roots, leaves, flowering and fruit production.

What's in it? All natural, certified for organic use. Cypress, pine and cedar tree extracts plus plantain (cousin to bananas, but more nutrient-rich).

How do you use it? Dilute in water. Grow in diluted HB-101 solution for hydro, or water onto substrate or foliage spray onto leaves.

Stage of propagation: Second and third stage. When roots start to develop (second stage), and when potting up (third stage).

 

HB-101 review


I don't know of another product with the same international cult following as HB-101 has. HB-101 is listed for use in certified organic production, is all natural with no chemicalsIt was developed in Japan 30 years ago from a combined 400 years of knowledge and experience, created as a natural method to heal and improve sick and weak trees. From there, word got out. It caught on in crops, then vegetable gardens, Bonsai then Orchids. Eventually indoor plant hobbyists caught on.  


This very unique, 100% natural formula combines extracts from cypress, pine, cedar and plantain (plantain are like bananas on steroids). Cypress, pine and cedar are known as 'immortal tress' for their potential to 'live forever'.

Being all natural, the colour and scent of each batch of HB-101 varies. In the bottle it smells like fresh pine mixed with a woody scent. It smells like Christmas! Like a pine forest after it's rained. Once diluted there's no scent however, which is a shame, but good to know if you're sensitive.


You will have heard me say 'a little goes a long way' about a couple of products so far, but HB-101 leaves everyone for dust at just 1 to 3 drops per litre for watering established plants. Yes, drops!


For propagation in water, the dose is a tiny 1ml per 50 litres, which is about 1 to 2 drops per 3 litres water. You can use HB-101 at the weaker dose for growing in water, or at the 1 to 2 drops per 1 litre water stronger dose if growing in a solid substrate.


When propagating, wait to start adding HB-101 when the first roots appear. You can keep using HB-101 right through potting up and long-term every time you water established plants. It's also had amazing results on weak or sick plants to help them recover. However keen in mind HB-101 is a growth booster, not a fertiliser, so you still need to mix-feed with your choice of fertiliser.

 

The verdict?


I know it seems wrong to make decisions about our precious plant's care based on budget. I'm not saying they don't deserve the best. But with my Pokemon tendencies to 'collect them all' when it comes to plant products - and plants too for that matter - budget does come into it. If you're looking for a growth booster that works, is natural, but doesn't break the bank, HB-101 wins hands down. Plus the reviews are mind-blowingly good. 


HB-101 starts at $10 for 6mls and goes up to a whopping $80 for 100mls. That  6ml is one seriously tiny, adorably cute bottle. The cost per feed however works out as one of the most affordable growth boosters from around 5 cents per litre. Wow.


As for whether it makes the cut for my plants? That's a definite yes. It's my current go-to growth booster I use every time I water, along with fertiliser. However it isn't my first pick for propagation only because I like the convenience of a root booster and complete fertiliser in one that I get with CCS.


Shop all 3 sizes of HB-101 here >


The end? (or the beginning?)


Hopefully you don't share my impulse to own all the planty products (and all the plants), and instead now have an idea of just one or two propagation products you want to try next time you get ready to 'chop and prop' your indoor plants. It may be the end of this review, but is also the beginning of many new plants. Propagation is so rewarding. 


Are you one of the 89% who have propagated your plants before? Take a look behind closed doors in The Secret Life of NZ Indoor Plant Parents where the results from the Great NZ Indoor Plant Parent Survey are shared. Discover what you have in common with over 860 other kiwi plant hobbyists. See the results >
 

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