Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Propagation and Procreation - More of a Good Thing

Date of this Version


Document Type



Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (PASSeL) Lesson


Copyright © 2003 Kim W. Todd, Dale T. Lindgren, and Deana M. Namuth. Used by permission.

This project was supported in part by the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants CAP project 2011-68002-30029 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, administered by the University of California-Davis and by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education, National SMETE Digital Library Program, Award #0938034, administered by the University of Nebraska. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USDA or NSF.

Development of this lesson was supported in part by the University of Nebraska Office of Extended Education and Outreach and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors.


Creating unique individuals or perfect little clones - Genetics of it all - Peas in Darwin's pods


Plants have developed reproductive mechanisms insuring their continued survival across generations. When adapting plants to a landscape environment, it is important to understand these mechanisms for success in the horticulture industry and home garden. The best method of propagating a plant is based mainly on the physical (morphological) characteristics of that plant. The broad characteristics shared by plants in the same family and the more specific characteristics that allow further categorization into genus and species can give clues to propagation methods. However, as we will see by looking at several members of the genus Penstemon, different species have varying propagation requirements. We will also see how inextricably the physical characteristics that allow a plant to be reproduced in a certain way are linked to the environment, stage of growth, available facilities, and plant management.


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the specific morphological characteristics present in many members of the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family that aid in pollination.
  2. Describe the three broad categories of factors that influence the ability to propagate a plant, and describe the significance of three detailed conditions in each category.
  3. Explain why it is important to understand propagation methods as part of learning herbaceous landscape plants.
  4. List at least five methods by which plants may be increased and differentiate between the methods used to create “new” plants or produce quantities of “old” plants.
  5. Explore how genetic engineering and tissue culture can be used to improve herbaceous plants.