A Guide to Propagating Plants for the Perennial Garden

The process of propagating perennial type plants {plantes type vivace} is a simple way to increase your stock of plants without having to buy new ones. It is also a great way to save money and keep your favorite plants going for years to come. There are several different methods of propagation, but the most common are division, cuttings, and layering.

Propagating Plants for the Perennial Garden: Methods

  • Dividing is the process of separating a parent plant into two or smaller plants. This is typically done in the spring or fall when the plant is dormant. Divide perennials by using a sharp knife or spade to carefully cut through the root ball. Be sure to replant each division immediately, water well, and apply a balanced fertilizer.
  • Cuttings are made by taking a piece of stem from the parent plant and rooting it in potting soil or sand. The cutting should be 4-6 inches long and taken from new growth that is just beginning to harden off. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone and then place it in the potting mix. Water well and keep the cutting moist until new growth appears.
  • Layering is a process of encouraging roots to form on a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. This is done by simply wounding the stem and then covering it with soil. To wound the stem, make a shallow cut on the underside with a sharp knife. Be sure not to cut through the whole stem.
  • Next, bend the stem down and cover the cut end with soil. Water well and keep the area moist. In the spring, the stem will have roots and can be cut from the parent plant.

Weed Control to Protect Perennial Plants:

There are a few things that you can do to help keep your garden weed-free.

  • First, make sure to regularly mow or trim the edges of your garden beds. This will help to prevent weeds from taking root.
  • Second, use a mulch to cover bare soil. Mulch will not only help to discourage weed growth, but it will also help to retain moisture and prevent erosion.
  • Finally, hand-pulling is often the best method for removing existing weeds.


Propagating plants is a great way to increase your stock of plants without having to buy new ones. It’s also a fantastic method to save money while keeping favorite plants alive for years. Division, cuttings, and layering are the most common methods of propagation.

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