Tender perennials: cuttings

Tender perennials such as verbena, bidens, gazanias and argyranthemums are best propagated each year from cuttings. In this way, you can keep the garden supplied with bushy, vigorous plants full of flowering potential.

Tender perennials - cuttings

Quick facts

Suitable for Fuchsias, pelargoniums, salvias, gazanias, scaevola, marguerites and penstemons and other tender perennials
Timing Late spring to early summer and summer to early autumn
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Suitable for...

These propagation methods are suitable for tender perennials such as bidens, gazania, heliotrope, marguerites (Argyranthemum) and verbena.

All root quickly and easily, as do other frost tender plants including fuchsias, pelargoniums, penstemons and salvias. Although you can lift or mulch such plants in autumn, cutting them back and keeping them under glass over winter, they can become woody and are best replaced with young plants raised from cuttings.

Foliage plants you may wish to bulk up include coleus (Solenostemon), plectranthus and Senecio maritima.

When to propagate tender perennials

Winter is too late to take cuttings so you must plan ahead before the season is out.

  • Take softwood cuttings of pelargoniums, petunias, bidens, fuchsias and penstemons in spring and summer from new growth
  • Semi-ripe cuttings of penstemons, salvias, argyranthemum, verbena and heliotrope can be taken from summer to early autumn when the base of the cutting is hardening and the non-flowering tip is still soft

How to take cuttings

Most tender perennials propagate easily from cuttings. There are two methods that are particularly useful: semi-ripe cuttings and softwood cuttings. You can also find specific advice on salvias, penstemons and pelargoniums on our other web pages.

Most cuttings taken in spring will be flowering in their first summer. Those taken in late summer will be overwintering under glass and be ready to harden off during May.

One of the keys to overwintering rooted cuttings under glass is to keep them on the dry side in bright frost-free conditions of around 7°C (45°F).

Problems

It is easy to propagate a wide range of tender plants, but problems such as grey mould and damping off diseases can occur under glass where ventilation can often be inadequate. Pelargonium rust can be a problem in damp conditions

Fuchsias, usually trouble-free, but can suffer from fuchsia gall mite or fuchsia rust. Glasshouse whitefly can affect most plants under cover especially fuchsia, pelargonium, verbena and chrysanthemum.

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