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How to Make a Test Tube Propagation Station

Looking for a tutorial for a DIY test tube propagation station? I’m sharing mine today—it uses scrap wood and has 10 slots for test tube plant propagation! I also chat about what size test tubes to use for plant propagation.

DIY Test Tube Propagation Station

Yes, I made another propagation station. What’s wrong with me? So many things. But one of those things is not my love for plants. Here’s the 5-slot propagation station I made using cylindrical glass jars. But why not kick things up a notch and make a station with 10 slots?

There’s no good reason not to! And there’s no reason not to use test tubes. I have long loved test tube propagation stations and have wanted to make one. Well I finally got around to it. And my test tube propagation station looks incredibly chic! Now I’m officially a mad plant scientist…or something.

DIY Test Tube Propagation Station

What size test tubes should I use for plant propagation?

Wondering what size test tubes to use for your plant propagation station? Well, there isn’t really a rule. And it depends a lot on the size of the plants you’ll be rooting.

Test tubes are generally 1″ wide, so keep that in mind. That’s what I’ve used for this tutorial. Don’t worry about the roots; they will conform to the size of the test tube. They also slide in and out of the test tubes really easily! Check out this fiddle leaf fig propagation.

plants in a DIY test tub propagation station
fiddle leaf fig roots in a test tube
fiddle leaf fig roots

So here’s what I used for this project:

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And here’s how I made my DIY test tube propagation station!

Always take the proper precautions and safety measures before working with any tools or materials. Wear safety equipment and work with a professional to complete projects when necessary. Read my full terms of use and disclosure for more. Happy making and stay safe!

Step 1: Buy test tubes and cut pieces

First I picked up 10 test tubes. I got mine from Michaels. I couldn’t find singles online, but they were in the area of Michaels up at the front near the registers. In the bins with all the goodies. They were about $1 each, and I used a 20% off your overall purchase coupon, bringing my total down to around $8!

If you don’t want to go hunting and pecking for them, you can easily order on Amazon.Then I cut the five pieces that make up the propagation station: a top, a bottom, two sides, and a support piece. The measurements for those pieces are as follows:

  • (2) top and bottom pieces: 27″ long x 2 1/2″ wide x 1/2″ thick
  • (3) side and middle support pieces: 4″ long x 2 1/2″ wide x 1/2″ thick

For plant propagation guides, click your favorite plant: snake plants, peperomia plants, pothos plants, rubber plants, prickly pear cactus, succulent leaves and cuttings, and string of pearls.

Step 2: Drill test tube holes

After finishing my cuts, I clamped my top piece to my workspace to drill my test tube holes. I didn’t mind that I would drill into my wooden work bench underneath. But if you don’t want to damage your workbench top, you should clamp a piece of scrap wood underneath the piece you’re drilling through.

My test tubes were 1” in diameter, so I used a 1” spade bit on my drill to drill 10 evenly spaced holes along the piece. Note that depending on what type of wood you’re drilling into you may need a strong battery-operated or plug-in electric drill.

spade bit
pieces for the DIY propagation station
pieces for the DIY propagation station
pieces for the DIY propagation station

Step 3: Assemble the propagation station

I used clamps and wood glue to assemble the DIY test tube propagation station like so. You can use a rag to wipe up any oozing glue. I let this sit overnight. Then, in the morning, I added one small nail to the top and bottom of each end. Probably not necessary, but if I ever decide to hang this, I wanted to have a bit of reinforcement for the glue. 

You can skip this if you’ll just be setting the propagation station on a shelf. But make sure you’re using a very strong wood glue, applying proper pressure, and letting it dry completely 🙂

clamping the wood
clamping the wood
assembling the station
assembling the station
assembling the station
assembling the station
nail in wood

Step 4: Clean up and finish

I used a Dremel and sanding drum to clean up the test tube holes. This also ensure they were just a hair larger than 1” so I didn’t have to muscle the test tubes in. But it didn’t make them so big that the test tubes didn’t stand up straight. Make sense?

This is optional, though. I have a Dremel, so it sped things up. If you don’t have a Dremel, just use medium-grit sandpaper to sand the holes by hand. Then use fine-grit sandpaper to clean the entire piece up for finishing.

I did a natural finish on the last propagation station I made because it was all poplar. But this one was a mixture of woods with different finishes, colors, and grains. So I decided to paint it. I used a beautiful hunter green spray paint on the entire propagation station. Going against my normal black—getting wacky with color (yes hunter green is my version of getting wacky with color).

hole in wood
green spray paint
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station

Finished DIY test tube propagation station…

Once everything is dry, you can add your test tubes, a bit of water, and some cuttings. This project really surpassed my expectations. I’m glad I went big with 10 test tubes instead of 5. I think it adds to the wow factor and really makes my window look like a jungle!

As a bonus, it’s big enough that the cats can’t fit on the windowsill with it, so they leave it alone. Or else, they have so far. Ramona generally leaves plants alone too, so I think it’s safe here. (Famous last words?)

If you wanted to hang this, you could just use L brackets and set it down in place on the brackets once they’re on the wall. I think this would look really lovely hanging, but I don’t have the perfect spot for it right now.

I recommend changing the water roughly weekly to keep things fresh. If you start to see green growth in the test tubes, take the plants out, scrub the inside of the test tubes (vinegar can help) and then let them dry. Refresh with new water.

DIY Test Tube Propagation Station
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station
DIY Test Tube Propagation Station

Pin my DIY test tube propagation station!

plants in test tubes that says how to make a test tube propagation station
collage that says how to make a test tube propagation station with images of the process

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  1. Teri Offield says:

    OMG I am so excited. My degrees are in Science and I have a lot of beakers and things like that. I love plants so this will fit right in. Love green too.

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      Awesome! I saw some decoration beakers in the Michaels halloween section a few weeks ago and actually and thought they would be amazing for propagating too!!

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