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Easy Propagation Station for Plant Cuttings | 3D Printed on a Tin Can

Updated: Jan 24

Propagating cuttings is awesome. I mean you just:

  1. Take a plant

  2. Cut it

  3. ???????

  4. Profit, now you have two plants

And seriously this blog post could be over right now, because it is just that simple. Though we can probably go a bit more into detail. Let me show you a way to use a 3D printer to make an awesome propagation station in a tin can and obtain a lifetime supply of fresh basil (or oregano, peppermint, chili, parsley, you name it; basil just happens to be my most used herb in the kitchen, hence I used it for this article).



Fresh basil cutting in the tin can propagation station


Take a plant

Obviously you will need a plant that you can make cuttings from. Growing one from seed is technically a way to eventually have a plant you can make cuttings from, though I think not having to grow a plant from seed is the whole point of making cutting. This is why I recommend you put on your shoes and head to the next supermarket, where you can get fresh herbs. Usually they sell them still growing in soil. You will want to get one of those bad boys with your favorite herb inside. Side note: If they do not sell any herbs still growing, taking some fresh ones that have been cut recently, sometimes also work. Taking dried ones will not do the trick, sorry.


Now that you have the herb of your choice ready it is time to throw this .stl file with the propagation station on your 3D printer (or if you do not have a 3D printer just get the propagation station already printed for you here). Print it in PLA or PETG in your the color you like the most. And while your printer is working, we will prepare the rest. Like a tin can and the cuttings of course. So as a summary, what you need is:

  • A plant

  • A 3D printer (or the already 3D printed propagation station)

  • A tin can (73mm diameter / 110mm height)

  • Water

  • Scissors / Sharp Knife

Cut it

And you are wondering what you should do with the two plants and maybe you also wonder, why you don't just put the cuttings in a glass of water instead of a propagation station as that sounds like exactly the same thing, which it is. So from a technical point of view I have little to no arguments if you only want to make cuttings, why you should not take a glass of water and do the above steps instead of using my 3D printed propagation station. And I did that, too before printing the station. However there are some features that the propagation station offers, which the glass does not:



So the hardest part is done. I recommend making about 5 to 10 cuttings as not all of them will survive and for an infinite supply of anything having two instead of one will perhaps also not be sufficient. In the meantime the 3D printer should also be done with printing so we can proceed to the next step.


???????

Propagate the cutting. Ok I admit, that sounds way fancier than saying: Put the plant in the water. Which is literally what we are going to do. Putting the plant cuttings we just made in water. So grab your 3D printed propagation station, open the clamps, place your cutting inside, clip it onto the tin can, fill it with water and make it dark inside with the lid you hopefully also printed. Done. Place your cutting on your window sill to give it as much light as possible. Basil will usually take 7 to 14 days until the first roots develop. Which will indicate the moment when you have reached the final step.


Basil inside the propagation station with lid to keep the inside dark


Profit, now you have two plants

And you are wondering what you should do with the two plants and maybe you also wonder, why you don't just put the cuttings in a glass of water instead of a propagation station as that sounds like exactly the same thing, which it is. So from a technical point of view I have little to no arguments if you only want to make cuttings, why you should not take a glass of water and do the above steps instead of using my 3D printed propagation station. And I did that too before printing the station. However there are some features that the propagation station offers, which the glass does not:

  • It looks cooler

  • It can be used as a forever home kratky style hydroponics system

  • Higher success rate when propagating

I am a hydroponics person and really love to find uncommon methods to grow hydroponics. Due to the flexible clamps, that will grow with the plant, there is no need to move it after the propagation and you can grow your cutting right there, without substrate. You just need some hydroponics nutrients (either solid or liquid) and keep it watered. That is in my opinion a huge advantage. Other options would be transferring the cutting into soil or growing it in a different hydroponics setup. If you move it to soil, please give it some patience, as the roots are not accustomed to soil yet they will grow a bit slower in the beginning.



3D printed propagation station for tin cans made out of PETG


Conclusion

Propagating plants is really easy, there are ways to make propagating more comfortable, and when you have a cutting that developed roots, there are several ways to grow it further. Just pick the path that is best for you. Furthermore, if you want to see this in action, instead of just reading about it, I recommend this video about my 3D printed propagation station.

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