It is really thrilling to watch a seedling emerge from carefully planted seeds, or new plants root from cuttings taken from a much loved plant.
Our speaker for our October 18 meeting will be Lawrence Lee, who has been gardening since he was seven years old. He will talk through and demonstrate how to propagate from seeds and cuttings—you are all welcome to attend! I will hit the main starting points in this blog.
First: a few basic materials—
Labels for each soon-to-be plant
I use fat popsicle sticks, some use old venetian blinds—use a #2 pencil to list plant name and date of planting (any pen will fade in the sunlight)
Containers—anything freely draining: yogurt cups with holes punched in the bottom, peat or coir pots, washed and sterilized used cell packs, 4” pots etc.
Flats—also helpful for supporting smaller pots and for sowing directly into soil in flats
Soil—essential to have fast draining soil: one part sterilized potting soil, one part horticultural vermiculite and one part coarse sand or perlite is a possible formula
Cover—it’s important to have a cover over the newly planted seeds or cuttings—you want to keep the environment moist, not soggy, with ventilation, especially if you are keeping your plants outdoors or in a dry indoor room
Essentials for seeds:
Check seed packet, preferably fresh seed from quality grower for best time of year to sow seeds, based on your climate. (The older the seed, the smaller percentage of viability.)
If collecting seed from the garden, check on the internet as to best time to sow the seeds. (The whole discussion of hybrids, cross pollination, heirlooms is saved for another time.)
Also research to see if seed needs stratification, scarification, soaking in water for 24 hours, smoke, etc. All this can be found on the internet, or in a good propagation book. Many seeds need nothing more than simply placed in the planting medium at a depth of 4x the diameter of the seed, and then carefully tamped down so there is good contact with the soil.
Keep planting medium moist until seedlings mature.
Providing light 14-16 hours a day is optimum.
Some plants do best with seeds sown directly in the garden, some do better starting their life in smaller containers before being planted in the garden. Research!
Essentials for cuttings:
Timing is everything! Collecting cuttings during the optimum time for the specific plant is the key to success. Again, a good propagating book or the internet can be your guide.
Advantages of propagating from cuttings is their growth is faster than from seed, and they are exact replicas of the ‘mother’ plant
Determining whether collecting a ‘soft wood cutting’, a ’semi-hard wood cutting’ or ‘root cutting’ is best for the specific plant.
The planting medium and supplies are the same as for seed propagation.
Powdered rooting hormone is also a plus for many cuttings.
It’s best to collect cuttings early in the morning while the plant is full of the moisture from the night, and then quickly place the cuttings in a plastic bag. If you’re going to be out for any amount of time, an ice chest, for storing the cuttings is a good idea.
And again, maintaining a moist, light environment is best for the success and health of the cuttings.