Plant propagation is the process of reproduction of plant life; it also refers to causing the biological reproduction of plants. The reproduction of plants can be sexual or asexual. Sexual plant propagation produces a new generation of plants via the exchange of genetic material from parent plants. Asexual propagation is the reproduction of plant life that is identical to a single parent. Seeds are involved in sexual reproduction, and various cuttings and grafting are used in asexual reproduction.
There are some distinct advantages to plant propagation by seed. Depending on what plant is desired, it might be the only means of reproduction. It is almost always the easiest and most economical method of producing plant life and is the only way of acquiring new varieties. The use of seeds to grow plants is one all-natural way of avoiding certain diseases. Vegetables and flowers that are annual or biennial are often grown from seeds; perennials can be grown from seeds, but some will not flower after one season.
Despite the advantages of plant propagation by seed, it is not always recommended, especially when dealing with a variety that is not native to the region where it is to be planted. This is because the seeds could grow into noxious weeds, attract destructive insects and give way to diseases. Gardeners are advised to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations governing the importation of plant life, in order to prevent harming the environment. Residents of the United States can check with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unhealthy seeds can harbor disease, so gardeners are advised to be sure that only healthy seed is saved and used for future crops.
Asexual plant propagation involves plant cuttings to achieve reproduction, but there is no variation in the crops obtained in this manner. Instead, the offspring is an exact replica of the single parent plant. Stem, leaf and root cuttings from which plant material regrows are often used to propagate houseplants. Other methods of this type of reproduction include layering and grafting. Fruit-bearing trees cultivated in orchards are often propagated by grafting.
Many people have returned to organic gardening to help protect the delicate plant life on Earth, because animal life also depends on plants. This is why farmers and gardeners often are encouraged to participate in plant propagation for heirloom flowers, fruits and vegetables. One of the best sources for plant cuttings, seedlings and heirloom seeds is a gardeners' club or association in which participants not only exchange knowledge and ideas but also seeds.