One of the great things about gardening is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to grow some excellent plants. If you have some time and patience, you can propagate a lot of different perennials, shrubs and trees. The summer is the perfect time to try your hand at reproducing that lilac bush or crabapple. The best time to take “softwood” cuttings is in June and July and sometimes early August. The term “softwood” is used to describe the stage of growth on a deciduous woody plant that’s not the new, green growth at the end of a shoot or the stiff woody growth at the base of the stem. The softwood lies between the two. The best way to know if a shoot has reached the softwood stage is to bend it. If it snaps, the shoot is ready to be taken as a cutting. If the shoot is very flexible and doesn’t snap, it’s too green. Finally, if it’s not flexible at all, it’s too old. The soft shoots are quite tender, and extra care needs to be taken to keep them from drying out. However, the extra effort pays off because softwood cuttings usually root very quickly. If you are rooting a few cuttings, you can use a flower pot or small flat. To maintain high humidity, cover the cuttings with a bottomless milk jug or place the container in a clear plastic bag. Some plants that are easily propagated by softwood cuttings are azaleas, blueberries, flowering cherries, crape myrtles, dogwoods, forsythia, hydrangea, rose and lots more.