Softwood cuttings can be taken at any time during the growing season, but are usually taken in spring. Soft wood, or growth, is the most immature part of the stem, produced continuously during the growing season at the tips of the stem. They can also be taken in summer and early autumn from stems that have previously been cut back hard to encourage strong new growth.
Because of its soft nature, these cuttings can be prone to wilting or rotting. Luckily, they are also the fastest to root, and as spring growth is very rapid, this is the best time for fast rooting.
The rapid growth rate does have one drawback as the cuttings also lose water quickly. Once they dry out and wilt they will never root, so it is vital to protect them against extensive water loss.
The critical period for softwood cuttings of half-hardy perennial bedding plants taken in late summer or early autumn is winter - getting them through the cold weather successfully. It is essential that they have developed a good root system by late autumn, if not they are less likely to overwinter. If the cuttings have been taken early enough and are well rooted they will have sufficient roots to survive the winter.