Is Proplifting Illegal?
Think twice before you try it...

Have you ever picked fallen plant pieces or broke them off from plant species in public spaces? This is proplifting, which is illegal! Here's how.

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Kelly Adams

July 11, 2021

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Introduction: What is Proplifting?

Have you ever stepped into a store or went to a park where you saw fallen succulent leaves? And being a succulent lover, you couldn’t help but pick them up? It’s never fine to break leaves solely for the purpose of propagating them. However, is it ever okay to pick up succulent leaves just like that? Proplifting is about picking up various parts of any plant from stores and nurseries. These leaves could be fallen or torn off deliberately.

Proplifting is an illegal practice. It involves using stems, leaves, fruits, or other plant parts for asexual reproduction. The United States has provided protection to patented plants from proplifting, under the Plant Variety Protection Act (1970).

A series of small succulent plants on a bark

What do proplifters do?

There are so many ways that proplifting works.

Proplifters take away broken pieces of plants to use them and cultivate their own.

It wouldn’t be called proplifting if you pick up leaves or other parts from plants that you have cultivated on your own. All in all, proplifters either take cuttings off of other plants or they use parts such as leaves that have fallen off.

Is proplifting applicable to all parts?

Are there any plant parts that you could pick legally?

Proplifting is applicable to all plant parts, fruits, leaves, stems, etc.

A plant is mainly grown using its seeds. However, many plants can also be re-cultivated using their fruits, flowers, and leaves too. So, whichever plant part you pick up from the ground or break off, it is considered proplifting if you can reproduce it asexually.

Asexual plant reproduction methods can vary, but never include growing from plant seeds.

What are patented plants?

The plant you're looking at could be someone's invention!

Patented plants are species that have been produced by humans, without the sexual reproduction by the plant itself.

In the United States, you can get your plant patented officially if it has been reproduced asexually. Moreover, the USA protects such plants under the Plant Variety Protection Act which was approved in 1970. These patents work in the same way as intellectual copyrights do. 

If you want to learn more about plant patents, you can read about them officially here.

How can you avoid violating plant patents?

You can always take steps to assure you're not violating any plant patents!

Reproduction from other patented plants is considered a violation to innovation and it is strictly prohibited.

Basically, when you reproduce a plant asexually, you’re not allowing it to grow naturally. Hence, it is considered an act of proplifting, when you’re asexually propagating or regrowing a plant. 

Here are some common methods by which you can asexually reproduce a plant.

  1. Using root cuttings
  2. Dividing plants 
  3. Using layering method
  4. Using tissues

So asexual reproduction never involves the use of fertilizing seeds. It only involves using certain parts of the plant for propagation. Moreover, keep in mind that not all plants can be propagated. When it comes to succulents, most of the species can be multiplied easily via propagation.

How do you know which plants are patented?

So here's the question - how do you know if the plant you're looking at is patented?

Patented plants will always have a label on their container. It could vary from being a sign to a number or even a statement.

It’s simple. If you’re purchasing a plant or even when you’re outside looking at one, you can check the container. Patented plants would have one of these things:

  1. The label would have a trademark sign
  2. It could have a patent number as well
  3. If the number or trademark sign isn’t there, the container may have the sign ‘PPAF (Plant Patent Applied For)’.


Look for explicit statements

The above signs are short. However, you may find statements written as well. For example, it may have clear prohibitory sentences such as 'avoid propagating this plant' or 'asexual reproduction of this plant is strictly prohibited.'

So is buying cuttings illegal too? 

It is always safe to buy plant cuttings!

A girl surrounded by assorted succulent plants, including cacti

Shopping officially for cuttings or any other plant parts is not illegal.

It is important to note that many shops have cuttings available for you to buy. So it doesn’t mean that propagation itself is illegal. If you go into a shop and decide to pick from a plant, or even take a fallen cutting (and the plant turns out patented), it would be considered proplifting.

On the other hand, if you buy it a cutting, then it’s legal. But remember to check the plant for its patent before you decide to propagate it! Even if you choose to a buy a plant, it’s not necessary that propagation would be allowed for it.

If you’re looking for some amazing succulent cuttings, look no further than this amazing pack of 15 assorted succulent cuttings.

15 assorted succulent cuttings from Sensual Succulents

These assorted cuttings from Sensual Succulents offer the most versatility at the cheapest price.

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So whatever you do, proplifting is both immoral and illegal. Whether it’s picking from a store or from a park, you cannot simply use fallen plant pieces for propagating them. It’s always wise to check on the container of the plant to see whether it’s patented or not. To save yourself from illegality issues and plant theft, you can check for a patent code on the pot. In some cases, you may also find explicit statements specifying that the plant is illegal for propagation.

Do you wish to learn about the easiest succulents to grow? Read this post on the top 7 easiest growing succulents .

The Top 7 Easiest Growing Succulents That You Can Grow!

Do you find raising plants difficult? These seven low-maintenance succulents will make things simpler for you to handle!

Kelly Adams Picture

By Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Kelly Adams Picture

Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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