How to Propagate Annuals from Cuttings

By the end of the growing season, many of our annual plants in the garden are gorgeous to overgrowing! It is hard to watch these prized flowers die after the first frost. Fortunately, some annuals can be propagated from cuttings and brought indoors during the winter. This is a great way to extend their beauty inside and reduce the cost of annual flowers for next spring.

Taking a cutting
Taking cuttings of annuals, like coleus, in the fall allows you to root them over winter and plant them outside again the next spring.

Annuals such as sweet potato vine, coleus, geranium, impatiens, begonia, and plectranthus are easy to root from cuttings. Below is a brief outline of the process.

  1. Remove a 2 to 4-inch stem tip with a clean, sharp knife.
  2. Gently remove the leaves from the lower half of the cut stem or cutting.
  3. Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone, if available. Many garden centers will sell rooting hormones. Rooting hormone is not required for all cuttings.
  4. Carefully, insert the cut end into a container filled with moist perlite (available at garden centers). Several cuttings can be placed in a 6-inch container.
  5. Water lightly.
  6. Cover the container with a clear plastic bag to create a tent over the cutting or cuttings. Secure the plastic with a rubber band around the base of the container.
  7. Place covered containers in a location receiving indirect light for several weeks. Some condensation should form inside the plastic.
  8. Check the perlite regularly to ensure that it stays moist. Water lightly if needed. Remove any leaves or cuttings that are discolored or moldy.

Most cuttings form roots in 4 to 6 weeks. Gently tug on the stem tips to see if they are rooted. If there is some resistance during the "tug test", the cuttings may have formed fine roots. When the roots are at least 1 inch long, they are ready for transplanting into individual containers. After transplanting move rooted cuttings into well-lit locations for optimal growing. 

cutting ready to stick in rooting media
Coleus cuttings collected in fall and ready to be inserted into the rooting media to root over winter

Annuals that Propagate Well from Cuttings

  • beefsteak plant (Perilla frutescens)
  • wax begonia (Begonia × semperflorens-cultorum)
  • dragon wing begonia (Begonia)
  • coleus (Coleus scutellarioides)
  • floss flower* (Ageratum houstonianum)
  • fuchsia (Fuchsia)
  • geranium (Pelargonium)
  • heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)
  • impatiens (Impatiens walleriana, I. hawkeri, I. balsamina)
  • lantana* (Lantana camara)
  • lavender* (Lavandula)
  • Mexican heather* (Cuphea hyssopifolia)
  • moss rose* (Portulaca grandiflora)
  • Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus)
  • petunia* (Petunia)
  • polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
  • plectranthus (Plectranthus)
  • rosemary* (Salvia rosmarinus syn. Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • salvia* (Salvia splendens, S. farinacea, S. coccinea)
  • pineapple sage* (Salvia elegans)
  • garden sage* (Salvia officinalis)
  • sapphire flower (Browallia speciosa)
  • spurge (Euphorbia)
  • sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)
  • verbena (Verbena)
  • vinca (Catharanthus roseus)

* All of these annuals will need abundant light when grown indoors.  These species will likely need additional supplemental light.


Updated from an article that originally appeared in the August 23, 2002 issue of Horticulture and Home Pest News, p. 113.

Last reviewed:
October 2022