Fall Garden Tip: Make More Plants Before the Frost Makes Your Plants Die Back

Plant propagation in the garden
Winter Prepping Your Florida Garden

The fall garden can be deceiving, especially in Florida. After enough years, where plants die down to the roots and hopefully come back in the spring, I have learned my lesson. I need to cut down certain plants before the cold sets in and does it for me. Why? Because this way I can make more plants instead of letting good branches go to waste. In the food forest, I started taking cuttings and placing cuttings in the ground in September, so these cuttings could root before the cold set in. 

Late October - November is a good time to start pruning frost-sensitive perennials in Florida. I'm a little late with taking cuttings from the plants around our home, but I've already done a lot of cuttings from our Cranberry Hibiscus, and South Sea Salad, and I'm always making more cuttings from the plants we eat often such as Sissoo Spinach, Longevity Spinach, and Okinawa Spinach. 
Firebush, tikal guava, south sea salad tree
Firebush takes a hit by the frost, so propagate the branches to make more firebushes instead.

Some Frost-Sensitive Perennials in North Florida:

Making more plants with easy plant propagation

These are just a few of our frost-sensitive plants, but if you have a plant that might perish or get frost-damaged, this is the time to take cuttings. If you are in the northern states, you're probably too late, but this is a good garden tip for next fall. 

Some years, the above plants get no damage, other years they get tip damage, and sometimes we lose some. It's important to prune the plants before there's a chance of frost, so that the plants have time to heal to protect themselves. 

Pruning is a big job, but I set up a propagation station outside and when you're prepared, it makes it easier.

Plant Propagation Tips:

  • Have a raised surface to work on
  • Create your propagation containers (I use ice cream containers filled with sand)
  • Pour a little growing hormone into a bowl or other surface. (We use Hormodin 3 propagation powder)
  • Have a glass of water ready to put your prepared cuttings in
  • Have a bucket for discarded leaves.
  • Be ready to cover your cuttings with plastic bags or bins (see how we use the plant propagation with plastic bins method here)

Plant Propatation Instructions:

  1. Make the first cut on the plant low to the ground and above two leaves.
  2. Cut a cutting with at least 4 nodes (leaves on the branch), and cut the cutting below two leaves. 
  3. Strip the leaves, except for the top leaves.
  4. Put the cutting in water or dip them in water.
  5. Dip the cutting in growth hormone
  6. Put the cutting in your growing medium. Pat the soil around the cuttings.
  7. Wet slightly.
  8. Cover and leave 

Plants and cuttings are ready for winter
The plants and cuttings are done and ready for our Florida winter.

I prefer to use the plastic bin method over the winter because the plastic bins hold in the heat and humidity,  which means I don't have to check on them more than once a month (or less).

Plant propagation is always a great way to make more plants and to get free plants, but it is extra rewarding when you know the branches would likely have died off anyway.  So, if you haven't already started, get your cuttings and grow your food forest over the winter months. By springtime you should have lots of extra plants to add to your food forest or to share with others. 

You can find more garden tips here, and you can find more plant frost-protection tips here. 


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