Can You Propagate a Stem Without a Leaf?

Propagation is one of the most rewarding aspects of plant care, as you can take a beloved plant and make more from stem cuttings. However, is it possible to propagate a stem that doesn’t have a leaf?

You can propagate a stem without a leaf. However, the stem must have at least one node, which is where buds are located and where leaves or stems will develop. Additionally, propagating plant stems without leaves is more likely to take longer to root.

This article will explore the possibilities, methods, and best practices for propagating leafless stems.

Key Takeaways

  • You can propagate a stem without a leaf if it has at least one node, where buds develop.
  • Not all plants can be propagated from leafless stems; suitable examples include Pothos, Philodendron, and Bamboo.
  • Propagation methods for leafless stems include the Bag Method, Water Method, and Soil Method.
  • Leafless stem propagation may take longer than leafed stems due to the absence of leaves for photosynthesis.
  • Choose the right propagation method based on your plant type and be patient, as propagation can take time.

Suitable Plants for Leafless Stem Propagation

Unfortunately, you can’t propagate every plant stem without a leaf, as some plants won’t be able to develop the roots necessary to propagate successfully.

A few examples of plants you can propagate from leafless stems are:

  • Pothos
  • Philodendron
  • Monstera adansonii
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Bamboo

It’s essential to remember that trying to propagate a leafless stem that also doesn’t have any nodes won’t result in a rooted stem. Stems have to have nodes to form roots.

Propagation Methods

If you have a plant that’s particularly vine-y, such as a pothos, you might wonder if you can use the vine portions of the plant without leaves to create more pothos plants. Luckily, this is possible! Pothos is one of the most popular plants to propagate without leaves.

Let’s go over a few common methods:

The Bag Method

Here’s how to propagate a pothos stem cutting without a leaf using the bag method:

  1. Find a node on the stem. The nodes are essential because these are where the roots will grow. To locate nodes, look for areas on the stem where there’s a scar on the branch or buds are formed.
  2. Cut 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) on either side of the nodes, depending on the length of the internodes or space between nodes. The whole cutting should be about 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) long.
  3. Fill half a ziplock bag with moist peat moss or coco coir. Both of these materials have excellent water-holding capacity, but coco coir is more environment-friendly.
  4. Place the cuttings in a bag. Seal the bag so that the humidity can assist the plant in the rooting process. You can open the bag during the day to prevent the cuttings from rotting.
  5. Place the bag in an area with bright light. I recommend placing it about 5 feet (1.5 m) from an eastern window or western window. Sunlight is essential, as it will encourage new roots and leaves to form. However, too much will cause the plant and the substrate to dry out faster.
  6. Keep the peat moss or coco coir moist. You can spray the substrate with filtered water every 5-7 days. After about a month, you’ll notice roots forming from the nodes.
  7. Trim the cutting until it’s only about an inch (2.5 cm) long. Place it horizontally into the soil with the roots facing down and care for it as you would a seedling.

Of course, this is only one of the ways to propagate a leafless stem, and this specific way works wonderfully for pothos plants but may not for other types of plants.

If you don’t want to use a bag, you can place the stem in water or soil. However, you may not get the same results (or at least not as quickly) without the humidity.

The Water Method

The water method is very similar to using a bag, except you place the cut stems in water.

Here are the steps to propagating a stem without a leaf in water:

  1. Find a section with at least two nodes. Having a few nodes on the same stem is ideal, as this will give you the best chance at new root growth.
  2. Cut the stem. You can cut an inch (5 cm) below the bottom node and also an inch (2.5 cm) above the upper node.
  3. Dip the bottom of the cutting in a rooting hormone. Using a rooting hormone is optional, but it can be the aspect that makes your plant root. A rooting hormone can be something natural like cinnamon powder or something you buy in a store.
  4. Place the cutting in a clear container with water. Ensure at least one or two nodes are submerged in the water. However, don’t let the water completely cover the stem, as some of it should be above the water.
  5. Be sure to give the plant bright light, as this is essential for root growth.

Trying to propagate a stem without a leaf is possible, but it may take a lot longer than usual. Be sure to watch the cutting closely and change the water every 5-7 days.

The water method is one of the quickest ways to see root formation in most cuttings. Wandering jew plants propagate in the water incredibly quickly and can even live in water for a very long time.

The Soil Method

Lastly, you can propagate a stem without a leaf in the soil. However, this type of propagation is only ideal for plants with thick stems, also referred to as using “cane cuttings.”

Some thick-stemmed plants this method works with include:

  • Dumb cane
  • Bamboo
  • Ribbon plant
  • Corn plant
  • Chinese evergreen

To use this method, follow these steps:

  1. Cut the stem from the plant. Cut at the base of the stem where it meets the main stem.
  2. Locate the nodes on the stem. Ensure the cuttings include at least two nodes per section.
  3. Use a rooting hormone. As mentioned in some of the previous sections, this step is largely optional but may speed up the propagation process.
  4. Prepare the substrate. Using a potting mix composed of equal parts coco peat, sand, perlite, and vermiculite is best. This mix contains the conditions necessary for rooting to take place.
  5. Place the cutting in the potting mix. You can place the cutting into the mix vertically or horizontally, but either way, ensure the bottom end is buried in the potting mix. Ensure around one inch (2.5 cm) of the stem is sticking out of the soil.
  6. Water the cutting. It’s best to water the stem every other day or when the upper inch (2.5 cm) of the soil completely dries. Be careful, though, as watering too much can lead to rot.
  7. Place the cutting in bright light. The amount of sun your cutting needs depends on the type of plant, so it’s essential to research your plant’s needs beforehand.

Propagating this way can take a long time to see results, so be patient—it can take several months!

If you’re unsure if this method will work with your specific plant, it’s best to try all three methods simultaneously.

Leaf vs. Leafless Stem Propagation

It’s better to propagate a stem with a leaf. While propagating a stem with a leaf is generally more efficient, leafless stem propagation is possible for certain plants. Leaves are essential for photosynthesis, which aids root formation.

Therefore, while you can propagate with and without leaves (depending on the plant), it’s usually ideal to propagate a plant with a leaf.

Troubleshooting Unsuccessful Cuttings

If you’re having trouble propagating a plant from cuttings, there could be several reasons why.

Here are some factors that may be affecting your success.

The Cuttings Are Too Long, Hindering Root Formation

Cuttings that are too long can make it difficult for roots to form because they have to work extra hard to provide energy to the long stems and the forming roots. Therefore, it’s best to have cuttings that are on the shorter side so you’ll see quicker results.

The Chosen Propagation Method May Not Be Suitable for Your Plant

As I’ve covered in the article, certain plants don’t propagate well from leafless cuttings. While several plants can propagate from only a stem and no leaves, others won’t be able to. Therefore, it’s vital to research your specific plant to determine which propagation technique is best.

It Takes Time for Roots to Develop; Patience Is Key

Propagating cuttings can take a long time, depending on the plant and method used. For example, you’ll be disappointed if you expect results within a week of propagating a leafless stem. This type of propagation can take months before you see roots form. Therefore, it’s essential to be patient.

Using the Wrong Propagation Method Can Yield Unfavorable Results

Whether you use a bag, water, or soil will determine your results when propagating. If you want faster results, putting your cutting in water is ideal. However, it’s ideal to know which type of propagation is best for your specific type of plant, as this will likely give you the fastest root growth and development.

Final Thoughts

In summary, propagating leafless stems is possible and can be an effective method for certain plants

While leafless stem propagation typically takes longer due to the absence of leaves for photosynthesis, it can be successful if you choose the right method and are patient.

Understanding your plant’s specific needs is crucial for a successful propagation journey.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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