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Propagating Potentilla from Cuttings

Last updated : 21 November 2014

Propagating potentilla from cuttings is really easy to do and when done as softwood cuttings during the late spring early summer they root quite quickly, usually in two to three weeks.


Propagating Potentilla from Cuttings

Propagating Potentilla from Cuttings


What I am going to show you in this post is propagating potentilla late in the season when the wood is much harder.  I am also going to show you hard I am cutting these plants back and why.

But first let me explain the difference between a hardwood cutting and a softwood cutting and knowing when to take cuttings for propagation.  Plants leaf out in the spring and immediately start growing, here in northern Ohio that usually happens around the third week of April.  Once the plants start to make leaves you should wait about six weeks before you take any cuttings.  Why?  Because when that new growth first appears it is really soft and too tender to support itself as a cutting.

After about 6 weeks the new growth, often called “wood” when talking about plant propagation, begins to harden off.  About 6 weeks into the growing season the wood has usually hardened off just enough that when you take a 4-5″ cutting and stick it in a propagation medium the cutting is just rigid enough to support itself and not wilt and collapse.  Cuttings taken from this soft new growth are considered “Softwood Cuttings” because even though the new growth has hardened off a little bit, it is still very soft and pliable.  Softwood cuttings usually root much faster than a hardwood cutting, but they are also very fragile and fail easily.

In the nursery business we like softwood cuttings because they are so easy to root and they root very quickly.  We also have some special techniques that we use to make this work really well.  In my “Plant Propagation Madness” DVD that is part of my “Small Plants, Big Profits from Home” Backyard Growing System I walk you through the step by step process and share all of my secret strategies that allow me to root thousands of softwood cuttings very quickly and easily.

As the growing season goes on the new growth gets harder and harder which is how the plant prepares itself for the comming winter.  By fall this new growth is no longer soft and pliable but hard and rigid.  It can still be rooted, but because the wood is harder it is much slower to make roots.  However, because the wood is hard and rigid it is much more durable and much less likely to fail as a cutting with no roots.

With plant propagation timing is everything.  Much more important than technique.  In this article I am explain the process for rooting Potentilla, but this same process will work for many, many flowering shrubs as well as evergreens.  So let’s talking the timing since that is so important and will start at the beginning of the year so you can understand the process that the plants are going through.

Note to folks in southern states or warmer climates.  I am going to describe the process and the seasons for cold climates, but it all still applies to you.  It’s just that you folks have a much wider window of opportunity.  Your plants are as close to dormant as they’ll get during the winter.  But you can do much of this year round.  Lucky you!

Propagation from Cuttings in January and February

In January and February plants are dormant.  Not much going on and all of the wood on the plants is hard.  In January and February you can still do hardwood cuttings and stick them outside in a propagation box like this.  I’d prefer to do them early, but you can do them in January and February.

Plant Propagation Box

Plant Propagation Box


This box is 10″ deep and the bottom is open.  12″ deep is actually better.  No bottom, no screen, no burlap in the bottom of the box.  The frame just sits on the ground.  The box is filled with coarse sand.  What sand you buy isn’t all that important but it should be coarse which means larger particles even small pebbles.  The sand needs to be coarse so water drains through it easily so the stems of your cuttings don’t rot.  The cover is just a wooden frame covered with 4 mill plastic.  I then paint the plastic white with latex paint so it reflects the rays of the sun.  The box should be in a shady location because you can use this box during the summer months for softwood cuttings, but if direct sun hits the plastic it will get way too hot inside.

Propagation from Cuttings in March, April and May

March, April and May are typically not good months to do propagation from cuttings because the plants are just starting to wake up, they are starting to grow like crazy and the new growth is way too soft to hold up as a cutting without roots.  That’s why we wait for the wood to harden off.  And when plants are actively growing asking them to make new roots at the same time is just not going to work.  If you live in a southern state, zone 7 or higher, you can probably start doing some softwood cuttings in mid May.  The rest of us have to wait until at least June 1st.

June, July and August

June, July and August  are full speed ahead for making cuttings.  The wood is soft and pliable, it roots quickly and easily and as the summer goes on the wood gets harder and harder.  If you do cuttings early in the summer and they wilt and fail, try some later in the summer.  In the nursery business we like the wood soft and pliable, but it takes a different process to make that work.  So for you hobby gardeners, just work with wood that is a little harder.

Flowering shrubs and most deciduous plants respond well when the wood is soft.  Evergreens you really should give them a few more weeks to let the wood harden off a little.  Usually I don’t do a lot of evergreens until the end of June or early July, but you can do them from then right up until winter.

 September, October, November and December

By the time September rolls around plants are starting to get ready for the coming winter.   But with many plants you might see some new growth in September and that new growth is perfect for rooting cuttings.  As the fall season creeps in the wood really starts to harden off, but that means that getting cuttings to hold up in a propagation box is easier and it’s still a great time to root cuttings.   Fall is a great time for home gardeners to do cuttings.  It takes longer to get rooting results, but do like I do, just take the cuttings and leave them alone until late spring.  You can’t rush the process.  Just be patient.

By December the ground is starting to freeze, the sand in the propagation box is starting to freeze but you can still stick cuttings on the days that things are not frozen.  The freezing temperatures will not harm your cuttings.  Just make sure the sand is moist but not soaking wet through the winter.

Okay, now back to the propagating Potentilla from cuttings.

Pruning Unruly Potentilla

Pruning Unruly Potentilla


I picked up about seven of this scary looking Potentilla plants at a nursery sale.  I wanted them for the landscaping at the old house at the nursery, but knew they’d need some serious pruning.  So I figured while I was at it I might as well stick the cuttings.

Cutting back Potentilla

Cutting back Potentilla


As you can see I cut them back really hard!  Why?  Because they were out of control and Potentilla is a sun loving plant and I want them nice and full at the bottom and that won’t happen if the bottom of the plant is being shaded by the top of the plant.  Had these plants been more aggressively pruned as they were being grown this hard pruning would not have been necessary.  However, I always prune my Potentilla fairly hard each fall because they do grow aggressively.  So I cut them back in the fall and then just let them grow and flower all summer.

So I cut them back hard and sorted through the branches that I removed and I made up about 350 Potentilla cuttings.  Mostly I used the newest growth from the tops of the plants.  You can see some of those cuttings at the top of this post.

I dipped the cuttings in a rooting compound.  I usually use Wood’s rooting compound because it is sold locally here at a nursery supply company and I can buy it in a pint since I do thousands and thousands and thousands of cuttings.  The active ingredients in Wood’s is pretty much identical to Dip n Grow which is easier to find.  If all you can find is powder rooting compound that’s fine.  They all deliver about the same results.  Some people make rooting compound out of willow tea.  I prefer to use what professional propagators use.

Do you need rooting compound?  No.  It helps and it does increase your success on some plants, other plants it makes no difference.  I almost always use it because if I am going to take the time to make 350 or 2,000 cuttings I want the odds stacked in my favor.

Potentilla Cuttings in a Propagation Box

Potentilla Cuttings in a Propagation Box


After dipping my potentilla cuttings I simply stuck them in my plant propagation box that is filled with coarse sand.  I watered them in really well making sure the sand is nice and moist, then I closed the lid and called it a day.  To prepare the cuttings I simply took mostly tip cuttings, made them about 4″ long, removed the leaves from the bottom half to two thirds of the cuttings and I was done.

I could have waited for a hard freeze and did these cuttings after all of the leaves had fallen off but I want to get these boxes full now while I have the time.  The results would have been the same.

Are you interested in growing plants for profit?  I wrote you a note.

Questions or comments?  Please post them below.  I’m trying really hard to respond to as many of these comments as I can!  I enjoy chatting with you folks when I can make the time.





    • Spiridula says

      Thank you Mike !
      You do a really good job for us, for me. I have 2 Potentilla. I never cut them, but I will do it now.
      Have a nice time !

    • Cathrine Mukome says

      Mike, Thank you so much for the information. Am in Zimbabwe and temperatures are very high,rainy season is setting in.Am doing a lot of cuttings and indigenous trees.Have budded 500 rose bushes- your video was inspirational. Can I purchase interesting/unusual colours for stock from your range.

      thank you and regards, Cathrine.

  1. Sylvia Levitan says

    I appreciate your straight-forward instructions and explanations of how to prune, make cuttings to propagate, etc. Your comments are so much easier to follow than many other gardening websites, so thank you for sharing your expertise with the rest of us “would be” good gardeners.
    Sylvia, Bearsville (part of Woodstock) NY.

  2. Frank Porterfield says

    I live in the south and wonder if it’s necessary to build a bow like you did or is it better to just root the cuttings in the ground or in pots/
    I love youer web advice and e-mails.
    Frank Porterfield

  3. Anne Fitak says

    Love your educational emails. Bought the Backyard Growing System and the $37 add-on but feel the grower’s board is a little pricey for me right now. Just waiting to find out what to do with the curly willow cuttings I stuck this past April that are now 5-6′ tall??? Thanks, Mike, for making gardening so much fun :)

  4. Bobby says


    I’ve rooted butterfly bush, hydrangea, gardenia, mexican firebush and lots of other shrubs using your techniques. On a small scale, the walmart bag technique works great.

    How about perennial like purple cone flower. Do you prefer seeds or root cuttings?

    Thanks for the updates!


    • says

      Bobby, I really don’t grow much of anything from seed except Japanese Red Maples and Dogwood trees. maybe redbud. But many of my customers grow lots of perennials from seed. I like cuttings. Just a faster way to get a plant. I also buy a lot things already rooted as do many nurseryman.

  5. Norman Layne says

    Mike have you ever tried dipping probagation cuttings into honey. instead of rooting compounds? If so what did you think?

    • Jolene Brown says

      Does honey really work? What about ants and other bugs being attracted to the honey? I live in N. CA., and we rarely have hard freezes. I also have some curly willow cuttings, they were started in water and had great roots, so I planted them in pots. I didn’t use anything to start them. I would like to know what is the best rooting compound? I want to make some cuttings of plants I have in the yard. Mike, can you tell me what you use for the best success? Thank you for your great videos!

      • says

        Jolene, Dip n Grow is really the best and easiest product for you to use. I really doubt that honey has any effect at all on the plant rooting.

  6. Donna Morrow says

    Mike: First thank you for sticking with me as I read and ask questions….. is this propagtion box built the same way here in S. Texas,south of Galveston? I have tried rooting but has not turned out very good for me. Maybe the box would be a better ~ new idea for me to try…
    thanks for all your info you pass on to us.
    Safe gardening to you..

    • says

      Donna, in your climate you’ll need to put it in a shaded area and I do my propagating in the fall and winter before it gets too hot in Texas.

  7. William Brooks says

    Can I propagate Pine trees the same way? Thank you Mike for all the hard work you put in to giving out information.

    • says

      William, evergreens like Taxus, Arborvitae, Juniper, Boxwood yes. Conifers like pine and spruce are often grown from seed and seldom done as cuttings.

  8. Diane LaBarge says

    I just love all your videos. They are very educational. I love to garden, but since I haven’t worked in 3 1/2 yrs, my money is tight and can’t garden very much. I do plant a couple of tomato plants and squash. Thank you Mike for all your gardening tips.

  9. says

    Thanks for all the information you sent.I always wanted to grow plants but where I live is not possible. I live in Mahopac, N.Y., a rich are, t hey usually do not buy.
    Maybe I will when my husband retires and we can go to Flea Market.
    Question, do you have instructions how to grow Peach Tree from the seed I have tried , I have not succeed. Please reply. Teresa

  10. Kathie N. says

    I live in zone 3, where the temp drops to -20 or more. I can’t see how a propagation box would work here for fall cuttings, any suggestions?

  11. Landon says

    Great how to Mike,

    I do have a question for you. I want to root some knock out roses, can they be trimed and rooted this time year, I have a small 10 x 17 green house that I grow veggies in during the winter, but have a shop where I can build a box like you describe

  12. Julie Richards says

    I love the idea of buying a plant on the clearance shelf and taking it home to propagate. Thanks for the information!

  13. Mike Tribley says

    Mike, Is that really all there is to root cuttings? It sounds almost too good to be true!! :) My wife gets really mad when she cant get “starters” off plants! LOL She tries almost every year to get a starter off the fuchias she buys and fails every time. Any advice you can give her?

    Thank You Mike!!! Keep the GOOD work up.

  14. cindy says

    Hi Mike,
    I enjoy reading your e-mails and watching your videos. I have really learned a lot from them , i appreciate all the information you have. Have a Great Day!!!

  15. Danelle says

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the tips! You mentioned that the plant propagation box needs to be out of the sun. I have a space next to my house that only gets sun first thing in the morning. By noon it’s completely shaded. Would a place like this work for a propagation box in the South Carolina mountains?

  16. Sharon Smith says

    I was reading your post on propagating Potentilla. I found it to be very interesting. I having been taking horticulture classes for the last 2 years so much to learn. I really found your boxes to be very helpful.
    Thank you

  17. Jerry says

    Mike.. I have a few Cotoneaster and a Dwarf Burning Bush that could use a trim ! Could I use your Hard Wood Cutting technique after freeze as you suggest for both ?

  18. WhiteHorse says

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the help and tips! I live in the Southwest (Yuma, AZ) and need all the help I can get. It sounds like artificial shade might be the answer to propagation boxes in the sun. By the way; the propagation boxes are a great way to go if you have the room. Do you have any preferences in design other than the ones you stated? Designs on your site? Have a blessed day!

  19. Roxanne says

    I have a couple questions.
    In the box you made, how deep does the coarse sand have to be?
    Because it is sand, will it not damage the roots as much when I pull them for transplant or do I need to grab some of the sand with the roots?
    How and or where do I order the clamshell propagator that you wrote about not long ago?

    Thank you…

  20. Mike says

    I have a greenhouse that I built for my wife last year and its just sitting empty because we really dont know what to do with it. Since signing onto your site you’ve given me a truckload of inspiration!! I hope to have this greenhouse start paying for itself soon.
    Thanks for the great info!

  21. Karen says

    I just love your down-to-earth advice (pun intended). I would guess the weather in upstate New York where I am is very similar to your Ohio weather. That makes your tips especially helpful. I want to do what you do when I grow up.

  22. Helen Leasure says

    Thank you so much for the valuable your emails. You have inspired me to expand my backyard gardening and I will be working on the propagation box shortly. I now see that I can do so much more and reap benefits from it!

  23. Beverly Smith says

    Use your info and reprint it with your name and website when I do for Olmsted Falls Garden Club members. We are 56 strong and learn from whatever source we can find. We keep City Garden spots growing and thank you for your help.

  24. Tina says

    Hi Mike,
    Can you take cutting and propagate inside using the same methods. I love all your videos they are so helpful and its nice to have someone break it down so the ungreen thumb person can do it too. Thanks!

  25. nadine says

    i do enjoy reading your stuff, but don’t have much time to play with my plants just yet, hope to in the future.


  26. Cindy says

    Mike, I live in Central/South Texas, where heat, drought and deer are all big issues. I always wonder if the plants you mention can thrive in such an environment. Plants such as ‘potentilla’ and Japanese Maple are not common here. It would really help if you would list zones for the plants you propogate. Love your posts, I’ve even rooted a few of my plants!

    • says

      Cindy, for the most part if you see me growing it, it’s probably good from zone 4 to zone 8. Some things like Japanese maples are okay here in zone 5, but not many do well in zone 4 and below.

  27. Mark Walls says

    Hi Mike!
    When the cuttings are stuck while still in leaf, do the leaves cause any fungal problems after they do drop? Or do you have a good way of removing them without disturbing/harming the cuttings?
    Thanx for all your efforts; been a reader sooo looonnngg that I feel like we’ve met!

    • says

      Mark, I don’t worry about the leaves. If anything they might hold some moisture in the event the sand might dry out over the winter. I do not try and remove them. Now if a ton of leaves blew in from other trees, I’d at least rake off most of them so they can’t matt down. But not the leaves from the cuttings themselves.

      • Mark Walls says

        Thanks Mike,from Mark in Spencer, NY(15 mi south of Ithaca and Cornell U). I think I’ve been with you since 2004 or ’05!!

  28. Karen Burks says

    I live on 6 acres in NW Arkansas and have very good soil with very few rocks. I do have many trees and lots of shade. When my parents moved into this house, there was a man living in a little house on the back of the property who raised flowers. It was in the deed that he could live here rent free until he died. Before my parents passed away, they tried to look after the iris, daffodils and lilies that he raised and sold, but it was a full time job. Many were sold or given away and some were mowed down.
    We have retired and moved here and are trying to get control. The daffodils and lilies just come up in random places. Some still in rows and clumps and some just a single flower. Many of the iris have been planted around trees or down fence rows and need to be separated or moved to a sunny spot. I also have forsythia, lilacs, dogwood, red buds, maiden grass, roses, trillium, coral bells, ferns, beauty bush, spirea, mock orange, Solomon seal and a host of smaller flowers that I don’t even know the names. I know some of these would be easy to raise and sell and on retirees income would love to do this but I don’t know which ones to start with or when. I have had some minor health problems this summer and didn’t get much done in the yard, but would love to start planning for the Spring. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I read all of your emails and have learn a lot from them. Keep them coming.

  29. john says

    I’m from central Alberta Canada,
    Love your letters, and many fine articles.
    I have been growing many cuttings, during the last few years. Not the greatest results, until I started reading your articles. I find them very informative, and helpful. I’m 70 years old, just wish I had this info 20 years ago. thanks again.

  30. David says

    I have a large blueberry bush patch with a number of different varities of blueberry bushes(I am in southwest Iowa group 4 zone so they are all nothern highbushes). My problem is I would like to propagate some of the plants and have tried both softwood and hardwood in peat using a white large thin trash bag over the bottom of a cutoff plactic barrel(made a tent like structure)with little result. I will try your sand method next. I have bought two books on propagation(one of them yours) and both do not really address the propagation of blueberries. The amount of started blueberry plants that show up at the big box stores in the spring tell me I am really missing something. The other problem without disturbing them in the peat I cannot tell when they root-it rains in the tent and the cuttings(softwood will stay green and hold their leaves even though they have not rooted for weeks on end) seem to hold up well because they are in constant moisture without adding any water to the system(the bottom of the barrel has holes in it to let out excess water). I will keep trying because of the benefit of blueberries to a person’s health.

    • says

      David, I have never done Blueberries, but they certainly can be done. The peat might be keeping the stems too wet causing the stems to eventually fail. Ideal propagation of softwood cuttings is just moist enough to keep the leaves happy and the stems moist but not wet. The tent method works on a lot of things, so I’d work on the rooting medium.

  31. says

    Hi! I live in Pennsylvania, and a rather famous garden expert says you must absolutely NOT prune after September 1st. He said it stresses the plants too much and you could end up killing your bushes. So I have left everything alone, even though some of my rose bushes are still growing like crazy. I won’t even snip off some roses to enjoy in my usual vase on the dining room table because I’m worried that doing ANY cutting of a plant after Sept 1st. is dangerous to the plant’s health. Can you offer any reassurance that cutting back plants this late in the season…as they are preparing for dormancy…won’t damage them? Doesn’t cutting them back encourage the plants to grow, therefore not allowing them to properly harden off for the winter freeze?

    I’d love to have some feedback from you or anyone else on the site here who has some expertise in this area. Thanks!


  32. Joanne Lighthizer says

    Hello Mike! Love your emails!!! Have you ever used aspirin to root? I read somewhere to dissolve a handful of aspirin in hot water,let it sit overnight and use by dipping clips in & plant or just set them in the water to root. What are your thoughts on this?? much thanks!

  33. Joanne Lighthizer says

    almost forgot~I have been struggling with trying to grow mangos from the seed, they are hit & miss to start but I now have 3 going ,were doing great until the leaves started getting crispy, then the edges turned brown. Can you help w/this? I must have tried over 50 seeds by now w/only 3 that took!! YIKES!! I researched & followed it to a “t”, no idea why the failure rate is so blooming (pun intended) high!! Help please..wanted to have a little “mango forest”.

      • Susan says

        Hi Mike & Joanne…..Heres how I grow my mangos..I have made a rainforest out in my farm yard….maple trees ect…then I put the mangos under them….then I put a sprinkler high up in the trees when the water falls it makes a nice humid place for the an no hard bright light…..

  34. Barbara says

    How I enjoy getting the information you provide in your emails.

    I live in the mojave desert of California and find gardening a challenge at times. But find your tips helpful. I have always loved plants but have had the black thumb when it comes growing things.

    I am now on my way of changing that!

    Would love to have gardens I could truely be proud of!

    Thanks again for making me feel I can do this. Keep up your beautiful work with plants and trees.

  35. Eric Grunewald says

    I’ve had a white grape plant in my patio for the last 15 years, which has been cut back several time (usually when the fence was replaced) but has grown along 15-20 feet of fence and across 40 ft of wires suspended between the fence & house. Usually get lots of small, blueberry-sized white grapes that are super sweet, though this year the darned squirrels & birds took a terrible toll. I tried to get some rooted cuttings to plant in one of my new raised beds, but have a question. Should I favour the woody vine or the vine that’s still green? Both sprout leaves during the season, and I cut back a few vines and trimmed out about 2 dozen sections, dipped in rooting hormone & stuck into the new raised beds. I have lots more to cut back, but little room in which to put them, so which should I favour? Thanks, Mike.

  36. Ben says

    Mike, thanks for the very informative couple of newsletter concerning root cuttings. I live in zone 8 (South Carolina) and am wondering if it would be possible to root some cuttings from a Variegated Lacecap Hydrangea?

  37. lorraine says

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for all your valuable information.
    Can you give a little information grafting?


  38. Rick says

    Hi Mike,

    Got any special tips on growing cuttings that will be pruned and trained as bonsai trees? I live in a camper-van… I’m on the road all the time now, and I don’t have a permanent landscape, so any plants I’d try to grow would have to be kept very small and lightweight. Maybe I’ll put them up on the roof – of course, not when I’m not driving around… Or, I suppose… they could be tied up there, maybe inside a cage. (Don’t worry, I’d let them out once in a while.) But… well, I wouldn’t want to get a summons from the Society Against Cruelty to Small Plants! :)

    Anyway, got any tips for growing (road hardy) bonsai?


    • says

      Rick, all the same rules apply. In a day or two I’ll post a video about rooting Arborvitae but even that is just slightly different than flowering shrubs.

  39. Jay Eiser says

    Love your site and all the info.
    Bought your BYGS and got the itch.
    Can I buy small liners this late in the Fall and pot them up. Will they be able to establish a root system and make it through the winter? I plan to protect the pots by burying them in a raised bed and mulching.
    I hate to lose a $400 order because I am a novice. Live in SE Pa.

  40. Karla DeBord says

    Thank you Mike for all of you very interesting and usefull posts.
    What do you use for a rooting hormone?
    Thank You

  41. Lucy says

    My question is also about hard pruning but with roses. My mom who is 85 years old has been pruning roses since she was old enough and was taught by my grandmother. She hard prunes her roses twice a year down to a foot from the ground. Her roses always come back beautiful and healthy. She just hired a new landscaper who told her she should not be pruning her roses twice a year and to do it just before Spring. You would think her method has always worked for her but this landscaper confused her. When is the best time to prune roses? I told her to keep doing what she has been doing but I thought I’d ask a REAL expert on this. Hope to hear from you, Mike. Thanks for all you do.

  42. Laura Mikaite says

    Hello Mike,
    I just want to ask if I can plant cuttings like that from “emerald green” plant at this time of a year. And also if I use powder rooting compound and simply will be sticking cuttings in the ground is it enough compound will stay on the cuttings. Thank u for your time answering ?s

  43. ChaChee Kent says

    Completely off topic, I tried to divide my heuchera and in the process the second side had little if no roots. I thought I’d try to see if I could get the cuttings to root. Do you think its possible?
    Love your advice.

  44. Paul says

    Hi Mike I trully appreciate all your information you put out for all of us. It helped in many ways. Hopefully you will still be available to us when they find oil on your land. Nah we know you will. Thanks again Paul

  45. Jerry Sams says

    Mr. Mike I need some advice about taking cuttings from roses! Living in Michigan I like to prune back in the fall! I recall seeing one of your videos on canes and trimming back all the leaves. Rolling them up in Wet newspaper and putting them in a cool place for rooting! If I do that say the last of November will they be ok till maybe April or so then plant them?

  46. Joseph says

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you for your newsletters.
    Could you kindly advise me how to assimilate my country of residence, Malta (Europe), with an equivalent American ZONE? Is it simply a matter of comparing the amount of rainfall, temperature, hours of sunshine, and similar qualities? I am at a loss! I want to be able to translate foreign countries’ instructions as to when to sow, plant, etc to my local climate conditions.

    • says

      Joseph, gardening zones are really nothing more than cold hardiness. I’m in zone 5. It can get as hot as 95 F. in the summer but as cold as zero or below during winter. Zone 7 is a few degrees warmer in the summer, but not nearly as cold during the winter. Maybe down into the 20’s. Zones 8 and above are much hotter and seldom see temps below 30 degrees F. I hope that helps.

  47. Darlene McNeelan says

    I have found an old military ammo box and a piece of plexi-glass that I plan to turn into my propagation box. I am going to line it with plastic then put sand in. Do you think the plastic will cause a problem with holding too much moisture? I am using the plexi-glass for the lid, should I paint it white like you suggest in your e-mail? I am going to start with cuttings from red raspberries and thornless blackberries. I haven’t had much luck with rooting things but I also try! Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.
    Darlene McNeelan

  48. Natalie says

    Hi Mike:
    As a BYG member, I love receiving your emails and simply couldn’t live without being able to access the online growers board. I am always bragging about belonging to it and how much information is there. Thanks for another great article. I actually have some potentilla that looks just like the plant in the photo above. I have a little room left in one of propagation boxes so I will be cutting my plants back and sticking the cuttings. Also, I have two different propagation boxes. Some of mine are a wood frame (20″x32″), which I put a tote down inside and then used old windows (which I spray painted white on the glass) as the cover. I then used bungy cords to keep them in place. I also took an old bathroom shower stall, filled it with coarse sand and then used a glass door, again spray painted with some white paint to cover the top. My propagation beds are in full sun but I can move the smaller ones in the spring or summer to shaded areas if need be. I am in Michigan and started taking cuttings in early September and some of them already have small roots. Can’t wait to see what they look like come spring. Thanks again Mike for sharing all your expertise and experience.

  49. Bruce Kenny says

    Great info. I’m really considering doing this as I approach retirement. Already had to move some daylillies so I trimmed them up and stuck them in the beach beside the pond; Thanks to the video showing yourself doing lillies in the fall.

  50. Linda says

    I love your emails and articles. I propogated several red maples from seed three years ago and now they are small trees, thanks Mike

  51. Marsha Torello- LaVere says

    Hi Mike
    I watched the demo of the man doing roses for rooting. I decided that I’d like to try it on my peach tree that I bought over a year ago from a catalog order house and needed to replant it somewhere else in my yard. I usually plant all my new plants in my flower gardens to give them a safe start. Any way I cut it back a bit and left the cuttings in a bucket of water till I could get back to them, so they are in my garage for 6 weeks wrapped in newspaper and shopping bags. It will be late November before my wait is over and I will be able to put them in the ground. I’d love to make one of your growing boxes but I know my husband will not support my efforts. I saw one of your other boxes that was made of a container and I may try that. Any way I need to contact some of these buyers so I can find some unprotected plants. So far the ones I have bought at the big box have no propagation tags. I did find some mums for .25. I hope they grow so I can transplant them into pots and sell them as bigger beautiful plants.
    One that is really trying to make it!

  52. Alma says

    I live in North Central Mo (zone 5)and plan to put in a windbreak of American Arborvitae
    (Thuja occidentalis). Is it too late to plant 6″-12″ starts in clay soil? Or should I wait til early next spring. We have had 2 years of drought and I’d like to plant now.

  53. Backyard Bob says

    Thanks for sharing this information, Mike! I was certain it was too late to start more clippings but the article got me so excited I went straight out and started clipping my “out of control” Potentilla. I ended up sticking 100 new clippings this evening. Now I’ll just check back in the spring to see how they’re doing!

  54. Janet says

    Thanks Mike for such detailed information. I have a nieghbor with a beautiful red-orange potentilla that I have been admiring for year. I just asked for cuttings of it and am in the process of making a sand box for them. Will this work with other plants like crepe myrtle?

  55. Gayla says

    Hi Mike
    Thanks soooo much for all the
    valuable info on a huge variety of plant an
    plants and trees. This info has
    helped me greatly and saved many
    a plant. I always look forward
    to reading your emails.
    Thanks again, Gayla

  56. Roger Morehouse says

    I never thought of starting plants in the fall, but I am almost ready to get some going so that I can use them as a fundraiser for Relay For Life of Cortland NY. Hopefully I will have the frame built this weekend.

  57. Susan Day says

    Just wanted to thank you for keeping me posted on all the great things you do with plant. Been a rough road for my family here in recent months, so i havent done any cuttings :(….but your post keep my mind busy when i need it most…
    I lost my mom 8-19-2012, my 29 year old nephew 10-4-2012 and my 48 year old sister in law 10-14-2012 plus 3 friends….please keep the emails coming…keeps mt mind busy.
    Susan Day

  58. Jane says

    Hello Mike, I live here in New York and I am in the process of pruning my roses. If I stick the cuttings that I cut in the propagator, will they survive the winter and come up in the spring? Does propagating in the fall will work on all perennials?
    Thank you, Jane

  59. gary bilodeau says

    Hello Mike, I was curious how you determine what to propagate? With there being so many people and so many choices, it seems like it could really be hit or miss. Then there is also the regional thing. I’m sure that stuff you grow there are not necessarily good for growing here in the Bangor Maine region. Anyways it is nice to see a ‘good ole boy’ (no offense) doing so well for himself.

  60. Gina Osterloth says


    I love all the tips and how practical your site is – I jsut love it.
    I love in Boise, ID and am wondering how well this will work here and how to ajust things as we have more severe weather here. Is this just for areas that don’t have hard severe winters.
    G Osterloth

  61. Nancy Deatherage says

    Mike, my yellow rose is blooming again, we have had some really cool nights but days warm back up. I am wondering if it wiould be better for me to cut all the blooms and buds off rather than have them be frost bitten? I live in cental Missouri. I really enjoy all the good advice you give us plus the step by step lesson you always have. I am 71 yrs old and I love gardening. thanks again for you reply in advance.

  62. Dr. Fernell Patterson says

    I thank you so very much for your information regarding how to start dogwood plants from seeds. I hope they will live and flower as soon as possible. Again, I thank you for the excellent information.

  63. Joyce says

    Mike Just before reading your email I trimmed off the top buds of my lilacs; hibiscus and some others before covering the base with mulch for winter. I made a mistake by not using those as cuttings didn’t I?

  64. Roger Byerly says

    I have started rooting some cuttings and have some potted up in pots and all your information has made so much difference. I am saying a lot of prayers and hoping everything gets thru the winter alright. Thanks for all your valuable information that you send out to everyone.

  65. Jeanette c. says

    Hi Mike, Great great info!!!! I live in a zone 4 area. I would like to propagate hydrangeas and wine and roses wigelias. Where do I cut the hydrangeas so that I don’t cut off the flower bud for next year. Thanks so much. Jeanette

    • says

      Jeanette, if you just take tip cuttings you shouldn’t interfere with next years flowers. The flower buds are usually fairly deep in the plant then they produce a shoot with a bloom on top.

  66. Glenda Hurd says

    Hi, Mike!! Really enjoy your letters!! Keep them coming…am forwarding this on to my friend and brother–just keep hoping one of them will start up their business! :)

  67. says

    Hi Mike. I’m really enjoying plant propagation. Have my first set of rooted cuttings using your earlier post about rooting in sand trays in plastic bags. Nice inexpensive way to start plants. Thanks!

  68. Anne says

    OK. You’ve got me convinced. I have a cold box that’s been sitting empty. And I’ve been wanting to try to root my fig trees. Am off to the beach this afternoon to pick up a couple loads of sand. Here we go!

  69. Rick Hutto says

    Thanks Mike, I really enjoyed reading this. I have been playing around with plants most of my life. I enjoy see thanks grow.

  70. EJ Irons says

    I did my second group of cutting this spring, I just potted them into 4″ pots. I got 104 small plants which I’m hoping I’ll be able to sell next spring for $4 each. My only overhead cost was 40.00 for good potting soil. I purchased by the tractor scoop(a pick up truch full) Ez figuring that about $360. profit. I’m going to make more rooting this week. In Alabama, I’ll be able to root just about all year long. Thanks for all your tips and suggestions. Ej

  71. Maria says

    Hello Mike, very informative. Thank you so much. Here in Missouri the growing year is comming to a close, I cut 3 different cuttings from my tomatoe plants, did do very well this year since I’m new at all of this I thought it was just me doing things wrong. I’m one of the dullest tools in the shed hahaha but I do try and love to exeriment, whats the worst that can happen the poor plant dies but on the up side I could be enjoying tomaotes in april or may. really enjoy your videos and look forward to future videos. I would love to see you do a video on cheap homemade green house.
    Thank you so much maria

  72. Sandy Drake says

    We have 2 beautiful “Rose of Sharon”, they are about 15 ft. tall and we need to prune them, how much should we cut off? Can we start cuttings from the prunings? HOW?

  73. Sandy Drake says

    we have 2 beautiful rose of sharon, that are about 15 ft. tall, how much should we prune off and can we root the cuttings, and how? we love your e-mails Mike Thanks, Sandy Drake

    • says

      Sandy, if you want to do heavy pruning I’d wait for them to go dormant which will happen after you have a hard freeze below 30 degrees F. Then cut as much as 50% off, make cuttings out of anything that is 3/8″ or less in diameter. I’ll do a post about those kinds of hardwood cuttings soon.

  74. jeanette says

    I have a voilet bush that is about 5 yeas old. would I be able to get cuttings and root them like you did this bush. also my sister has a hydranga that we would like to try getting cuttings from. Any info would be greatly apprciated.

  75. james dougherty says

    I had a seed from a necterine that was starting to sprout inside the fruit I was eating. I put it in a plastic sandwich bag with a few drops of water and it continued to grow. I now have it potted in a 6 in. pot and it is about 4 inches tall but it looks like anothe tree is growing beside it from the same seed. Can I seperate them or should I waite untill they get taller and I have to change pot size? Thank you

  76. Dianne South says

    This is great information Mike. I wish I could follow you around for a couple of weeks and just watch how you do things. I tried the dogwood seeds last year and didn’t have any luck. I wish I knew what I did wrong. Thank you for providing us with these very helpful tips.

  77. Richard says

    Mike, My oldest is heading for college and I need about $10,000 for room/board, etc..I figure what your doing could make this in small plants sales at $4.97 each. How many cuttings fit in your sand boxes? I’m no math major but I figure 2000 plants sold does the trick. Based on your experience, how many kinds of plants/shrubs should be considered for enough variety to sell em all! Also what do you think about vegetible starts?

  78. Tony Stemle says

    I have 4 large rose a sharons I planted 18 yrs ago next to my house foundation. I was advised that this could damage my foundation. But some say they will not damage the foundation. Do you have any thoughts and if I need to cut them down when would be the best time to do (i live in KY). Is there any way to pull them up and move? Since they are next to the wall I would have to drag them out with a chain – will this kill them?

  79. Penny says

    Hi Mike
    I did start some trees but My husbands neiphew sprayed them with weed killer and killed them all agian. they were doing great it was a flowering tree that is native of arkansas. I forgot the name of these trees but my mother in law called them fishing worm trees. I got some more seeds but hesatent to plant them because the first ones was growing in my flower bed. I throw one of the seed pods in my flower bed and they started to grow. so I transplanted them in pots. It was one of those opps things.

  80. kay hamilton says

    Hi Mike – I have been reading with great interest your articles on root cuttings/propagation. A few months ago, while visiting a friend in Mississippi – I was just stunned with the beauty of the Crepe Myrtle…he cut me a branch to place in a vase, so that I could enjoy it a while longer back home, here in Ohio. I swore that I had actually seen some in Ohio, in the Dayton area, but certainly not many. I decided to try to buy one and see it it would work. Meanwhile, I read up online about growing from seed, etc. All the while, my branch was in water. As I continued to watch it, it began to grow a what I thought was a root!! Seemed strange to me – as the website never mentioned growing it in water. So, now I have a branch with a ton of roots..and I am about ready to plant it in a pot (not outdoors at first – it’s almost too late to risk here now)…and am hoping to have it grow indoors until next spring or summer, when I can find the perfect location for it. Have you had any luck with Crepe Myrtle?? I enjoy your newsletters – keep them coming!!

  81. Gail says

    I want to start a lilac hedge to extend across the road frontage on my property (700 feet). When to take cuttings from existing white lilac? When to set out?
    Many thanks for all your expertise!

  82. Connie says

    Mike, i have so gotten into propagating since first reading your info..beginning with house plants, but success with shrubs and trees is my focus now…like the idea of outside box(my house is overflowing with plants). Have tried numerous times with fig trees and only one rotted so far.. can’t get a hold of what i’m doing wrong..i live in central AR can i put my rotted fig outside in the spring..have had it in a clay pot for a year i think.

  83. curt says

    hey mike,

    looks like propagating potentilla is a no brainer,…..will deer eat it? they seem to like all else,…esp. poison ivy! go figure, huh?

    best, curt

    • says

      Curt, I’m not sure, but when you have the ability to grow as many as you like that gives you advantage. And since potentilla really do better when trimmed back hard in the winter the deer might do them some good.

  84. Laura Mikaite says

    All the cuttings that is in your box do you replant them next year or leave it all spring and summer long,till the fallowing year? I also have some hydrangeas that I rooted from clippings they are in the little pots. Is it not too late to replant them in the ground. I live in Massachusetts which I believe is zone 5. Thanks for everything.

  85. Glenn Townsend says

    I bought several Hybuscus Plants this summer, and planted them in large blue ceramic containers – & placed them in my front yard. Ques. How do I take care of them for the Athens,GA Winter. Do I need to take them inside, keep them in the sun, What???

  86. says

    A few days behind in my e-mails. I have a fig tree and I usually take cutting in Dec from branches about one foot in height. I root them in sodaa bottles and give away. Success rate is so so.

    Glenn S

  87. Ruth says

    What do you recommend for garden grubs? I planted an avocado tree about 8 mths ago and it recently started looking a little tired. I checked the soil and found grubs. HELP !!!

  88. Southern Girl says

    Loved the article I have always wanted to know how to successfully root from branches. Do the same apply for all such as Japanese maples

    • says

      Brad, when the plant is dormant leaves don’t matter. Live cuttings that haven’t gone dormant yet? I’d use only cuttings with leaves until you get a hard freeze.

  89. Susan Schmidt says

    Mike I love all your information . Thanks for letting us have it for free. I’m on the fence about being a backyard grower, in ks. I am starting some cuttings to see how simple it is if I can keep them alive. Is there anyone in ks. doing this? susan

    • says

      Susan, we have growers all over the United States, some in Canada, England, Australia and a few other countries including South Africa. Is rooting cuttings easy? Easier than you can imagine. In my backyard growing system I share other strategies that you won’t see on my sites, at least for now that make it all that much easier. If you are serious about this, the sooner you really get started the sooner you will get really good at it.
      Have fun!

  90. Mehdi Mirshahi says

    Thank you for valuable info. I want to propagate some fig roots. Do I have to do it the same way? Or, perhaps I must keep them inside. I am getting the cuttings from University of California.

    • says

      Mehdi, This time of the year the figs may be better off inside. The plants that I am doing are winter and cold hardy. They can tolerate temps way below freezing.

  91. Paul says

    Mike, Can Satsuma orange tree cuttings be rooted using the damp newspaper method?
    Or the buried upside down method?


  92. Sharon says

    I got some nice little saplings last summer propagating mulberry trees from cuttings. I used moist potting soil, with a plastic bag over the pot, and rooting gel. Hope I can keep them going next summer.

    Thanks for your emails. I really enjoy them.

  93. Karen says

    Hi, Mike. I bought your gardening system awhile back and am just getting started. But there is no time like the present.
    Anyway, I used some Bontone rooting powder on the cuttings which are now starting to take root and I was just looking over the instructions on the bottle and noticed it said not to use with plants to be eaten.
    Well, what I used it on was grapes and blueberries. Can you tell me why it is not supposed to be used with edibles and do I need to start over with something natural? I wanted to go organic anyway.

    Thank you for your time,

  94. Linda says

    My mom has a potentilla that is looking ‘unruley’. Since this is mid-September, and I live in Iowa (midwest region) will I need to keep them indoorrs through the winter months, and if so how do I maintain them until they can be planted next spring? I also have a couple of recycling bins, that I am not sure where they came from, but would that be a good use for a Plant Propagation Box?
    Thanks for the info so far!

    • says


      The recycle bins will work for cuttings this time of year and through the winter. But come summer they are too deep, not enough air circulation around the cuttings. You can stick those potentilla cuttings now, or wait until you get a hard freeze then do them as hardwood cuttings. Hardwood cuttings need very little care. They just take longer to root.

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