Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Plant Cuttings in the Fall

When people come by the garden they often ask me where I get all my plants. This is a complex question which could take me all day to answer. Some answers might be easily acceptable, some not so easily understood. But all people like to hear about my free plants. Who doesn't love free plants?

You can get free plants from division, seed collecting, cuttings, layering, and friends (the best kind). This post is about cuttings, specifically cuttings I take in the fall to increase my stock of plants or to save tender plants which will not winter over in my Zone 6/7 garden.

I don't have a book that tells me when to take cuttings, it is kind of a trial and error thing on my part. Some cuttings that work in the spring will not work in the fall, and others in the fall won't work in the summer and so on. Still others there may be no right time to take cuttings but I sure love increasing my stock of plants from cuttings.

I have found that most cuttings I take from spring on into September will actually bloom that first year if they are an herbaceous perennial. See the Pineapple sage in the upper right corner that is blooming in the flat? I took that cutting on the 9th of September and the picture was taken just three weeks later. I am amazed how plants, even severed plants will still bloom when they are supposed to bloom. It must be in their genes.

The long window box flat is full of PeeGee hydrangea cuttings. Now in my experience the shrubs started from cuttings will take much longer to bloom and almost certainly will not bloom the first growing season they are planted out in the garden. But, as it is with gardeners, we have to have patience and soon enough we will be rewarded with blooms.

Here are some cuttings you might want to take now: lantana, hydrangeas, coleus, sage, Powis Castle artemesia, heliotrope, and datura.

For more ways to increase your stock of plants see Dave's blog for great information on propagating plants.

in the garden....


  1. I took some cuttings of Annabelle hydrangeas from work (with permission of course,) Endless Summer and Nikko Blue hydrangeas from a client (also with permission,) and all have formed roots. It's amazing how easily they root! I've even taken some cuttings from the cuttings! They were really too small to plant outside yet, so now I'm just hoping they'll overwinter inside alright. A couple of sites I googled said they were hard to overwinter inside, but so far so good.

  2. I didn't know you could take a cutting of a hydrangea. My Mom wants a oak leaf hydrangea like I have, and I was told to just pull a limb of it down, scratch out some dirt and put a rock on it and once it rooted then to cut it off of the Mother plant.

  3. Hi Tina, you have done a great service here in getting the word out about cuttings! I am not a cutting girl myself though, too lazy. If I see that there are multiple stems at the base of something, I will dig up a piece from the edge and if is has some roots, just plant it like that. Some, like the butterfly bushes need pruning to keep them in bloom and I stick those in the ground in the shade, usually under some bushes. The tender things, like annuals would need to be kept inside and there is no more room in the greenhouse so they just get bought anew in the spring. Lazy, I know. Your way is much better, my hat is off to you!

  4. Wow--great information as usual Tina. This will be one of those I print for the journal!
    Thanks! :)

  5. Hi Linda, It was because of you I took my helitrope cuttings-I am ever so glad as they are doing great! One trick I have found with the shrubs to overwinter, since they go dormant they do not need the grow lights like some of my cuttings. I just put mine in my unheated garage and keep moist. They do lose leaves and all, but come back beautifully in the spring. Your basement should work fine for the hydrangeas.

    Jillybean, Layering is what you described as propagation. It really is ideal and easy to do. It is also really the best way for oakleafs as they don't grow from cuttings well.

    Frances, What you did not say was you have such a greenthumb you just stick the cuttings in the ground and all your plants grow:) That is a gift, lazy way or not it works! I still can't get over your lavender method and may try it myself this year.

    Linda, Great! Free plants are always helpful and if you can learn from experiences it sure helps make the process more effective. I am as always, honored you even print off my postings.

  6. Hey Tina,

    You and Dave are the professors of propagation! I don't take cuttings either...I often forget to keep them moist....cuttings live behind the carport and that is big time mosquito land and I really don't like going back there too often! A small cold frame would help in the winter...might want to look into that one. BTW...the Powis Castle you gave me is doing fine!

  7. Great on the Powis Gail! I was wondering how it was doing. I just love it and think it will love Chez Cedar Glade and you too. I hope you like it. Very easy to propagate this time of year too. I think this is like the only plant I REALLY like that does not have to flower-in fact doesn't-at least not that you would ever notice.

  8. I've taken several cuttings this fall--my first experiment in propagation--and I'm hoping they last through the winter. But I took only cuttings from annuals; I hadn't even thought about perennials! Thanks for the tips, Tina. I'm always looking for ways to increase my garden stock without breaking the bank:)

  9. Thank your for reminding me I wanted to take some cuttings from Annabelle. This was a good post. I'm all for trying, especially since we have nothing to lose and much to gain;)

  10. Great tips today Tina. This is the perfect time of the year to take cuttings, they should be well rooted & can be established before next summer. I've rooted several things by layering & cuttings myself over the years. Like Frances though I do dig up babies or suckers near the base & find it works 100% of the time.

  11. My PeeGee inadvertenly got it's lower branches plowed under the soil and wa la! Three new pg's for the front yard. They did really well this summer esp considering they are planted in sand almost.

  12. Since my garden is new (3 years old), I bought more than I should have to get going. Now, I can take enough cuttings and seeds to grow another garden.

    Which brings me to my point. In hindsight, I should have gone slower. I had that "life is short" thing going during some health problems (now fine, but that's why I retired early), so I rushed to get a full garden...slow down...take divisions and seeds.


  13. Good Morning All,
    A great post Tina. I've tried my hand at propagating. So far most have rooted. I've tried most ways. Sometimes I've just stuck in down in the soil & it's gone-good roots. I have a white mum that I want to increase the amount of plants of it. So I will try rooting some of it. I'm glad you listed some of the plants that you can do now. That is very helpful. Thank you.
    Have a great day all.

  14. I don't really have the room to do a lot of propagation. Vital information though, as if I'd done this with my Pineapple Sage earlier in the summer when it was still alive, I might have some left! I don't know why mine dies out early every year. But as with all things, I'm sure I could manage to find the room if I just got creative.

  15. Thanks for the tips and encouragement, Tina. Sometimes encouragement is all that some of us need to get going, though a garage might help too. I'm not sure where I could keep any cuttings right now. I might have to consider a cold-frame like someone else suggested. Love the beauty here, but the gardening situation is a little different than I'm used to.

  16. I would NEVER think of anyone that has such massive gardens as you Frances as being lazy. Sure had to chuckle over that one!!

    I have taken several cuttings this year also. So far, so good but it is early. Spring and next summer I hope to have a passing grade. All my little white rose bushes out front by the shore road I just stuck several small (only 3 or 4 inches high) stems in the ground. Now they are 6 to 8 feet high. Gotta just love it.

  17. I dont have room to nurture cuttings over winter. I have taken up the guest room with potted bulbs and a few houseplants though. I even have the gourds hanging in the closet to dry! Where will I put over night house guest when they come to visit? :-) I need a Green house so badly…

  18. You're right! Who doesn't love free plants, and the more the merrier. I have a long list of plants to propogate myself this winter.

  19. This year I took Coleus cuttings so I won't have to buy new plants in the Spring. But I have not taken more due to lack of a good place to keep them. Where do you keep all yours over winter ?

  20. The pineapple sage looks lovely!Loved your post Tina. And thank you for the link. Will check it out now.

  21. Why oh why does propogation intimidate me so much? Well, after this post it's a little less so. Maybe because of the time in between the cutting is made and knowing if it's going to "take". I don't know if i have the patience. I needed this little nudge.

  22. Tina, it must be so rewarding to create a whole new plant in your garden just from cuttings. I'm glad you wrote a post (below) for Veterans Day. I thought of you yesterday.

  23. Thanks for the link Tina! I can't say enough how great propagating plants can be to get more plants in the garden. It really doesn't take much space either, a little pot will do. Very soon will be a good time to take cuttings of most evergreens. That's good advice you gave to Jillybean. I've managed one Oak Leaf from a cutting but layering will probably be a more sure fire method.

  24. Tina, lots of good info! I'm so impressed with your hydrangea cuttings, and may try that next year. It's a little late here for that. You're right about the best free plants being the ones you get from friends. When you see them growing in your garden it always reminds you of that friendship.

  25. Tina .. I just wanted to thank you for your message .. it was very kind of you. I appreciated it : )

  26. Tina - great tips and advice. Do you use rooting hormones, like "Rootone" or "Hormex" for the woody cuttings? I generally do, with good success. Did a number of Euonymus varieties this summer, which need overwintering outside, in a sheltered spot.

    Love that pineapple sage - always a favorite... mine's blooming away, even through the light frost we've had recently. ~ Deb

  27. Well hi everyone! Busy day for me in the garden...It seems that I get real busy this time of year and have been neglecting the blog. Anyhow, here I am!

    Rose, Cuttings from annuals-too great! No trip to the garden store for you:)

    Marnie, The Annabelles will root easily since the PGs always do. But an even easier way is to layer them. I remember the Annabelles are your favorite though so you can't have too many.

    Racquel, Can't beat those babies and layered plants for sure.

    Dawn, I can see some PGs on your windowsill for sure. It should not be too late even in Maine.

    Cameron, I always have that mentality life is too short-gotta live now! That is me for sure! That is why I started in earnest with the trees so I will hopefully see them mature. Your garden is truly lovely, a mature sight already and with all those plants you can expand even faster. Do enjoy it all.

    Lola, You have a super day too!

    Brenda, It may be that your pineapple sage just burns itself out really quick with the heat and growth that I am betting it puts out in Texas. You might try cuttings early on to extend the show and keep them for next year. They are so easy to root!

    Walk2Write, It would be very different here from Florida for sure. Cuttings help but wait until you are set up. Do you see Susan on here? She has a great blog in Florida and listed yours on a post.

    Mom, We know Frances is not lazy at all, she needs to come see me as I have extra shovels:) Great with your roses! They are easy to root to usually.

    Skeeter, I promise I won't check in the closet:)

    Susan, Welcome! You have a super good blog with lots of friendly information on it. Thanks for dropping by here. Gotta get busy propagating down there in Florida. We have a regular commenter who lives there in the Tampa area. Her name is Lola. I am sure she will come check you out soon. Walk2Write is also from there. She is on here today. Thanks for popping in.

    Cindy, I keep most of my cuttings in an unheated garage on one of our many cars parked in there. Poor car. My son's but I don't think he'd mind because I try to keep the area clean. Some cuttings I store on my seed shelf. I did a posting under seeds or seedlings I think. The shelf is set up with lights and was a gift from a friend. An easy way to store lots of plants. I currently have it in an extra room but may be moving the whole thing to the garage as I am tired of the plants in the house. Some need the heat, but most do not. I would think coleus would do okay as long as it does't freeze, not sure though. I used to overwinter it but mine did not grow this year, probably from no rain. Remember raindances? That must be it.

    Kanak, Thanks! That pineapple sage REALLY surprised me. Such a cool plant and still blooming in the garage. I am going to look for an ixora soon.

    JGH, With your gorgeous garden propagation is the next big thing as you have lots of things to take cuttings. I just can't get over those poppies. Wonder if I can propagate them:)

    Sarah, It is rewarding making new plants, but then I have find a spot for them. Sigh. THAT is the hard part and not so rewarding as I am running out of room as my mother has said. Thanks for thinking of me yesterday. If I was still in it would've been a great day off, as it was hubby enjoyed the day off with me and we worked in the garden-really hard. I need to post on that as he NEVER works in the garden. Anyhow.

    Dave, Not sure why oakleafs are hard to do with cuttings. But they do selfseed. I had over 20 seedlings last year so I am sticking with that method or layering. You just wait until yours gets big and you'll have a ton too.

    Beckie, Yes friend plants are special. I have whole sections of gardens dedicated to friends. I learn the best things from these plant giving friends. The coolest is when a friend gives you a plant you can NEVER find in the store. Since I only shop at big box stores I hardly ever find old timey plants so I do rely on friends and think of them when I see the plant.

    GardenJoy4Me, Yes, sorry for the loss of your best friend. You take care.

  28. Deb, Yes I do use rooting hormone. A small bottle I purchased five years ago and it is finally running low. I think it helps. I should've added that in too. The pineapple sage is as easy to root as coleus. I was so surprised as this is my first year growing it. Such a great plant and to still be blooming after a frost? All the better!

  29. I'm a lazy gardener - rarely take cuttings or divisions, don't collect seeds, and have never layered. I'll admit it, I'm spavined!

  30. thanks for the great info. you are working hard aren't you>?

  31. Skeeter, since the saint will not let you have a pool, tell him you will settle for a greenhouse. :)

  32. TC, What the heck is spavined?

    Marmee, Yes! I am a bit behind too. Gardening-computer-gardening-computer-a bit conflicted lately for sure.

    Hi Mom!

  33. Ms. Tina:
    Spavined =

  34. TC-That was a belly laugh for sure! A new word to add to my vocabulary! Ha!

  35. LOL that was funny. I looked it up also. That is me!!

  36. This is the first year I've tried taking cuttings and I've been surprised at how easy it is. I've really enjoyed it--it's not only a very frugal way to garden, it opens up the possibility of giving gifts to fellow gardeners as well.

    This year I simply took some cuttings from a sedum and some sage, but next year I'm going for the antique climbing roses...

  37. Mom, I wasn't going there-that TC is a hoot!

    Susan, Gifts of cuttings always welcomed by gardeners. That is one reason why I do so many-so I can give them away. lol Antique roses will work super good in the spring. Good luck!

  38. Hello Miss Tina,
    Thanks for the info! I tried my first cuttings this fall and am very ambitious about doing some more. (Although, right now, I don't have much, since I am a bit of a newbie).

    I was concerned that it would be too late in the year, but I took a few from my rose bushes to try. Started them about a month ago, and so far, I have at least 5 confirmed. I took a few more about 3 weeks ago and about 10 more that seem to still have some hope.

    I really am hoping they will make it until the spring. I would be happy if even one did!

  39. They will Lindsay, just keep doing what you did to get them to root. (Just no greenhouse if you had one). And if you have more plants outside you want cuttings from, it is not too late. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?