Skip to main content

Focus on these plants when propagating this fall

Want to propagate your plants this fall? Start here!

When people think of propagation, the inclination is always to take cuttings during the active growing season. That’s a great option for most plants, especially since you should be pruning them during this season, but some are best propagated in the fall. Some plants should be propagated in the fall because it is an ideal time for them, while others simply may not survive for propagation in the spring. No matter the reason, here is what you need to know about propagating in the fall.




45 minutes

What You Need

  • Pruning shears or scissors

  • Rooting hormone

A gardener taking plant cuttings
AngieYeoh / Shutterstock

Pros and cons of propagation

There’s always a risk with propagation since the cuttings aren’t guaranteed to root or survive; however, it’s the same risk you take when planting seeds. Some don’t germinate. So why not try your hand at propagating plants in the fall that may otherwise not make it through to the next season?

Pros of propagation:

  • Guarantees qualities of parent plant appear in the baby
  • Increases your plant collection at minimal cost
  • Lets you have multiples of your favorite plants
  • With fruits and veggies, resulting crops are consistent between varieties

Cons of propagation:

  • Propagated cuttings can take a while to root and mature
  • Lose natural genetic diversity you get when growing from seed
  • Mutations don’t happen, which can be good but also prevents beneficial changes
  • Babies are susceptible to the same pests and diseases as the parent

Considering both the pros and cons when you ask the question, "Can you propagate plants in the fall?" — it’s up to you to decide whether propagation is for you or not. Ultimately, if you have a variety of plants you really love and want to keep the same traits in the new plants, propagation via cuttings is the way to go! Otherwise, you may just want to buy new seeds next season.

A person propagating pothos plants
AngieYeoh / Shutterstock

Why propagation is a must come fall

Once September hits and the end of the growing season is upon us, it’s actually a great time to take cuttings from a lot of plants — especially perennials and shrubs that you aren’t sure will survive the winter.

Taking cuttings toward the end of the season allows the plant to get strong during the growing season, which increases the viability of the cuttings. Cuttings from tender perennials, like geraniums, can be taken once temperatures start to cool for the year. After the first frost, you can take cuttings from hardier, woody plants (as well as seed pods from plants like azaleas and rhododendrons).

Once you've taken your cutting, here's how to encourage it to grow.

Step 1: Use a rooting hormone to speed up the rooting process.

Although cuttings will typically grow roots without rooting hormone, it does make things much easier.

Step 2: Place the cutting in bright, indirect light, not direct light.

Cuttings are generally more sensitive to light than adult plants, so leaving them in direct sunlight can cause damage.

Step 3: Keep the cutting in a warm, humid environment.

A cutting growing new roots
TY Lim / Shutterstock

Plants to propagate in the fall

Some of the best plants to propagate in the fall are those you want more of next season or whose traits you want to carry over. When taking cuttings from any plant, you should make sure to use a sterilized pair of shears and take a cutting that has three to six growth nodes. Three of the best plants to propagate in fall are lavender, geraniums, and verbena.

Since most lavender varieties hate cold weather (especially container varieties), they’re a great plant to take cuttings from at the end of the growing season before a frost hits. Lavender cuttings can be softer or harder (more resistant to bending), depending on the time of year. Softwood cuttings are usually taken in spring, so if you’re looking to root and overwinter your cuttings, the ones you’ll take in the fall will be hardwood. They root slowly but have a higher survival rate than their spring counterparts.

Most varieties of geraniums root reliably in the fall, which means you can take cuttings from your favorite one to have even more to plant when spring rolls around. Geraniums don’t have the same kind of dormancy period as a lot of outdoor plants, exhibiting slower growth during the colder months (but growth nonetheless). Although this allows them to be propagated at any point in the year, fall is the best time if you’re interested in trying to plant more geraniums in the spring. To take a proper geranium cutting, be sure to use a sterilized pair of shears and make the cut just above a growth node.

Trailing and upright varieties of verbena plants have a low success rate when overwintered, making them ideal candidates for fall propagation. Similar to lavender, you can take cuttings in the spring; however, the ones taken later in the season are more likely to survive even though they’re slow to grow. A proper verbena cutting is about three inches long with no flowers and only a top couple sets of leaves.

This is just the beginning. A lot of plants can be propagated during the fall, whether through cuttings or seed pods. It’s an ideal time to get them set up indoors before the cold hits and to make sure that your favorites can be replanted in your garden the following year.

Editors' Recommendations

Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
How to transplant moss – and when you should
Here's everything you need to know about finding moss and caring for it
A close-up of moss

Moss is a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant that can be found just about everywhere. It can be grown as an ornamental plant in pots or even as a ground cover in your lawn! You can source your moss from a garden store, buy seeds online, or transplant moss from elsewhere.

Transplanting moss doesn't just mean moving it from one place to another -- it can also be a way to propagate your moss. Whether you’re transplanting moss from one container to another or transplanting it from the wild, we’ll give you all the instructions you need on how to transplant moss, including where to find moss and how to take care of it after transplanting.

Read more
How to propagate your own stunning rubber tree plant from a cutting
Propagate your rubber tree today with these tips
Red and green rubber tree in a gray pot against a white background

Rubber trees, also called rubber figs, are a popular houseplant native to several parts of southern Asia. These low-maintenance ornamental plants are Ficus elastica, not to be confused with Hevea brasiliensis, another plant commonly referred to as a rubber tree. In addition to being easy to care for, rubber trees have beautiful, glossy leaves and make great office plants.

If you already have one, or if you know someone who is willing to share theirs, then you may want to know how to propagate a rubber tree plant so you can grow more. Luckily, propagating rubber trees through cuttings is easy! This guide will walk you through how to do it.

Read more
Cordyline care: How to make your cordyline plants thrive and bring the tropics indoors
Make sure your cordyline thrives with these tips!
Potted green cordyline plants on the ground

Cordylines are beautiful tropical plants native to the Pacific Islands and portions of Southeast Asia. With their striking colors and vibrant leaves, they can add some much-needed color to any indoor space. Choosing a cordyline plant that’s right for your home is easy, but you have to make sure you can create the conditions that are conducive to its needs. For tips and tricks on cordyline care, you've come to the right place.

Read more