Propagation & Seed Starting

Plant Propagation Calendar – What You Should Be Doing Each Month of the Year

January and Mid-Winter

You can do hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants. Just wait for a day when the ground is not frozen so you can either plant them out or bury them. You can also do hardwood cuttings of evergreens, if you can provide them with some bottom heat. If you are going to do any grafting, now is the time to bring in your rootstock and let them warm up so they can begin to break dormancy.

February or Mid to Late Winter

You can still do hardwood cuttings as described for January. Start your grafting toward the middle or end of the month.

March or Late Winter and Early Spring

It’s a little late for hardwood cuttings of evergreens, but you can still do some hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants. As soon as the ground thaws and spring begins to peak around the corner you can start doing plants that can be propagated by division. You can also start to do some layering.

If you have landscape plants that need pruning, do it now before they begin to grow. Even if it means losing the flower buds, if the plant needs trimming it should be done in order to develop an attractive plant. Any transplanting that you intend to do should be done now before the plants break dormancy.

April or Early Spring

There are plenty of things to do in April. You can still do some division as long as the plants are not too far out of dormancy. You can do layering and serpentine layering. If you have seeds that you have been stratifying, you can plant them out as long as they have been in stratification for the proper length of time.

May or Mid Spring

You can continue all methods of layering. All seeds should now be ready to plant out. You can also collect seeds that ripen in the spring. By the end of the month you should be able to start some softwood cuttings, unless you are in a northern state.

June or Late Spring and Early Summer

By now you should be able to do softwood cuttings of just about all deciduous plants. If you are going to do softwood cuttings of Rhododendrons, try some early in June. If they don’t do well, try a few more later in the month. If you are using intermittent mist you can experiment with all kinds of different plants. June is a little early to be doing softwood cuttings of evergreens but you can test a few.

July or Mid-Summer

Continue with softwood cuttings of deciduous plants. Now is the time to start some softwood cuttings of evergreens. By mid to late July you can start budding dogwoods, apples, crab apples, cherries and anything else you would like to bud.

August or Mid to Late Summer

Continue with softwood cuttings of evergreens. By now the wood of most deciduous plants has hardened off. You can still make cuttings with this harder wood if you are using intermittent mist, but you should use a little stronger concentration of rooting compound. Budding can be done early in August.

September or Late Summer and Early Fall

Start watching for fall seeds to ripen and start collecting them. Evergreen cuttings can still be taken and rooted under intermittent mist. If you are not using mist you can stick them in a bed of sand and keep them watered.

October or Mid-Fall

Hardwood cuttings of evergreens can be stuck in a bed of sand. Or you can start sticking hardwood cuttings of evergreens using bottom heat. After a good hard frost you can start dividing perennials. Collect pines cones from Pines, Spruce and Firs, as the cones open they release the seeds inside. Store the seeds in a cool dry place until spring for plantings. Seed pods from Rhododendrons and Deciduous Azaleas can also be collected.

November or Late Fall

Hardwood cuttings of evergreens can be stuck either in a bed of sand outdoors or indoors with bottom heat. If you intend to do some grafting over the winter, now is the time to make sure your rootstock is potted up and placed in a protected, but cold area until January.

December or Early Winter

You can do hardwood cuttings of evergreens in a bed of sand or with bottom heat. You can also do hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants as long as the ground is not frozen.

Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his websites at and

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