You are here

Perennial Propagation

Though most perennials may take a couple of years to flower from seed, many are as easily started as annuals. The quickest way to have blooming plants, however, is by vegetative propagation, such as by dividing old plants or rooting stem cuttings. Plants produced vegetatively have all of the traits of the "mother" plant. Propagation by division may seem difficult at first, but most gardeners find that dividing crowns and roots and separating bulbs takes very little experience and can be mastered quickly. Try dividing monkey grass for experience; then move on to daylilies, and before long you will have the hang of it.

Perennial plants with shallow roots are easily pulled apart by hand. Long fibrous roots can be pulled apart with a hand fork. Thickly intertwined roots may need more forceful separation or cutting with digging forks. Replant only those segments with strong roots and a few intact leaves or crowns.

In general, it is best to divide perennials during their dormant or "off" season; divide spring bloomers in the fall and fall bloomers in spring. Some perennials may need dividing every 3 or 4 years, or they will slowly crowd themselves into clumps of nonflowering leaves and roots.

Many perennial plants may be propagated from stem cuttings, which does not disturb the plant's roots. Take stem cuttings during the spring or early summer, choosing stems that are mature and firm but not yet hardened and woody. Cut off 4- to 6-inch segments using a sharp knife or shears, and pinch off the succulent tip and any flower buds to force the cuttings to concentrate their energy on producing roots. Remove the lower leaves that will be below the surface of the rooting medium, but leave a few leaves to provide a source of energy for root initiation and growth.

Because of disease or weather conditions, cuttings often will not root directly in garden soils. They may be easily started in a pot containing a porous, well-drained rooting medium, such as a 1:1 mixture of perlite and peat moss. Coarse sand and vermiculite are also used as rooting soils. These mixtures will hold moisture and yet allow drainage for air circulation. Root-stimulating compounds, including those that contain fungicides, are available at most garden centers. Using a blunt stick, pencil, or finger, open a hole in the rooting medium and insert the treated cutting. Firm the medium around the cutting and water in well.

Many commercial growers use a mist bed to keep cuttings from wilting, but this is usually not feasible on a small scale. You may easily construct a humidity tent from plastic film loosely draped over a frame covering the cuttings. Place the tent in bright light, but prevent overheating by making sure the tent is not located in direct sunshine. Keep the plastic loose to allow air circulation. Avoid direct contact between the leaves and the plastic. The tent will serve as a tiny greenhouse and will maintain a good rooting environment with daily light watering. Rooting often occurs within 3 or 4 weeks. By the time new leaves begin to appear on cuttings, roots are usually formed. Remove the plastic tent and water regularly until plants are firmly established.

Transplant newly rooted plants into prepared beds or pots and place in a bright, protected area until you are ready to set them into your garden or share them with others.

Printer Friendly and PDF

Publications

Publication Number: M2214
Publication Number: IS1997
Publication Number: IS0656

News

Two hydrangeas are pictured in the foreground of a garden, with one blooming and the smaller one not blooming.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens August 13, 2018

While visiting my parents in Tennessee this weekend, my dad asked why one of their Annabelle hydrangeas was blooming while another -- growing just 5 feet away -- was not. He asked if I had some special fertilizer or bloom juice that could be applied.

I didn't, because the shrubs didn't need any special fertilizer help. It all had to with light.

Several red pepper and a few yellow ones rise above green foliage.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens August 6, 2018

How have we already turned the corner into August? While it’s still hot and likely to continue that way for at least another six weeks, I’m looking forward to one of my late-summer landscape favorites, the ornamental pepper.

These plants have been growing patiently all summer, seeming to wait patiently and soak up the Mississippi heat until our other plants need a breather. If you follow Southern Gardening, then you probably know that I really love the show that ornamental peppers put on in late summer and early fall.

Dozens of yellow flowers fill the frame.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design July 30, 2018

The last few weeks have been hot and humid, and many of my gardening friends are ready for fall's cooler temperatures.

Dozens of red, yellow and white flowers grow on long stems.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens July 23, 2018

Because of the oppressive heat and humidity in my coastal landscape and garden, I spent the weekend in the air conditioning, of course.

A plant with light green leaves and white flowers on tall stems grows in the shade under a tree.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture July 17, 2018

With Mississippi's legendary summer heat, everyone wants some shade trees in the home landscape. But with shade comes a unique challenge: what plants thrive with less sunlight? (Photo by Gary Bachman)

Watch

Front Yard Color
Southern Gardening

Front Yard Color

Sunday, August 12, 2018 - 2:00am
Gary's Hellstrip
Southern Gardening

Gary's Hellstrip

Sunday, August 5, 2018 - 7:00am
Japanese Maple
Southern Gardening

Japanese Maple

Sunday, July 22, 2018 - 2:00am
Vitex
Southern Gardening

Vitex

Sunday, July 15, 2018 - 2:00am

Listen

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 2:00am
Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 2:00am
Monday, August 13, 2018 - 2:00am
Friday, August 10, 2018 - 2:00am
Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 2:00am

Contact Your County Office

Upcoming Events

Your Extension Experts

Extension/Research Professor
Ornamental Horticulture Host of Southern Gardening