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I’m going to explain when I like to propagate house plants and why, but if you live somewhere that’s warm and sunny year-round, or you keep your house consistently warm year-round and use grow lights, your plants will never need to experience seasons.
A lot of the tropical plants we keep as house plants come from near the equator, so they don’t have seasons that vary in temperature – it’s either very rainy and windy, or less so. It’s usually pretty warm year-round.
However, for the rest of us, you may want to consider when the’s best time to do the majority of your propagating.
You can 100% propagate year round BUT it’s quicker and easier to do it when there are long hours of light and it’s not too cold.
At the beginning of the growing season
I like to do the majority of my propagating at the beginning of the growing season. Not because my cuttings roots faster, but because I can take a cutting, root it, pot it up, and get some decent growth going by the end of the summer.
The more established a propagation is by the following winter, the less mollycoddling it will need to keep it healthy in the colder months.
I definitely take cuttings (and root them) year-round. I took Philodendron brasil cuttings in February, and they’re doing well. I recently took loads of cuttings of my Philodendron Golden Dragon, but I took those cuttings to either write an article, or because the plant was producing leggy growth.
In March, I usually make a list of the plants I want to propagate that growing season. I look at plants that are getting a bit leggy, or that need bulking out, or that have just taken off down a weird path growth-pattern-wise.
Having a lot of props at once makes it easier to care for them. I'm more likely to bother switching up the water often if there's more pots for some reason, and it seems more worthwhile making up batches of nutrient water for multiple cuttings as opposed to there just being one or two.
In spring, my other plants often have only just started growing after their winter rest, so they don’t need watering as often as they would in August. They don’t need much attention so I can devote the majority of my plant care energy to propagation.
And then they tend to be rooted and ready to pot up by June, and they can get a few good leaves in before it’s time to shut down for winter again.
When you have time
This is a biggie. If you’re super busy and you want to take cuttings and stuff but your quietest time is in December/January then there is no reason you can’t take propagations in winter.
It can be beneficial to use grow lights and a heat mat (depending on where you live) but a window in a warm room (living rooms tend to be warmest, but it obvs varies) but definitely not necessary.
I put my props on my coffee table, and because the window is south-facing it’s not so cold that it prevents plants from rooting.
If you’re super busy in spring and you feel like you HAVE to take your cuttings now…you don’t. Save it for when you have enough time to enjoy the process.
Whenever you need to cut your plants back
Again, if you have a plant that’s going off in an errant direction, then you can definitely chop it back – even if it’s November. In fact, I recommend chopping back leggy growth asap (especially if you’re not going to do anything to remedy the legginess) because if you’re going to chop it back anyway, you may as well stop the plant from wasting it’s energy. You can root the leggy growth and pot it back in with the mother plant, so the growth may still be leggy, but it’ll end up bushy as hell.
Whenever you want to
I mean, this is really the point I wanted to make. Plants will root all year round if you make sure the water is well-oxygenated.
I perhaps wouldn’t recommend propagation novices start propagating in winter, just because it can be disheartening when it takes weeks for a single root to grow, but if you have a grasp on what you’re doing, then go ahead.
There are some methods of rooting cuttings, namely rooting in aquariums and Aerogardens that are pretty reliable year-round, due to the warmth/light that are produced by the system.
Can you propagate plants in autumn/fall?
You definitely can, and a lot of people do – probably because house plant people tend to do a bit of a plant audit just before winter to check everyone’s gonna make it through ok.
This is the time to chop back any growth that you think is going in the wrong direction or is too leggy. You don’t want your plant working hard to preserve growth you’re going to chop off anyway.
Don’t be surprised if the cuttings you root in autumn or winter don’t produce any new growth until the following spring. Often, plants will leave off growing leaves until it gets a bit sunnier and warmer, but they’ll happily keep on growing roots (especially since soil can retain heat, so is a bit warmer than the air around it).
It’s much better that your plant grows a great root system because that means when spring does come, it can produce new growth quickly. That’s way better than some half-arsed roots growing a weird, stunted leaf.
If you’re looking to grow a big bushy plant by chopping and propping, it’s best to take the cuttings for this in Spring, because the cuttings will rot quickly, and you can get them potted up and growing well before the end of the season BUT there’s absolutely no reason why can’t take cuttings year round if you want or need to.
Plants can take longer to root in winter, especially if you’re not using grow lights or a heat mat, so you’ll need to be extra vigilant about keeping the water well-oxygenated (though cold water holds more oxygen, so yay for that). They definitely can still root though.