A helpful guide to plant propagation

June 30, 2015

Propagation has to take place at the right time, and the seeds or cuttings have to be planted in properly prepared soil. Here's what else you should know to be on your way to owning a lush garden.

A helpful guide to plant propagation

Choose a method for propagating a plant based on the type of plant. You can sow seeds for lawn grass or sturdier plants outdoors in the springtime. Sensitive plants will likely need to be sown indoors or in a greenhouse. You can place them in either water or soil to grow roots. A mixture of potting soil and coarse sand is ideal for cuttings.

Caring for seedlings

  • Keep indoor seeds or young seedlings from being washed out of the soil by hydrating them with a mister or spray bottle instead of watering directly.
  • Outdoors, protect seeds from being washed away by covering them with burlap bags. The sacks let light pass through, but soften the impact when the seeds are watered or pelted by rain.
  • Ensure your seedlings get the light they need by placing the seeded pots on aluminum foil that reflects and intensifies the natural light.
  • Transfer small plants outdoors in the evening or on overcast days. Once they're in the ground, water them carefully.
  • Put plastic bottles over young plants to protect them from snails, frost or dehydration. Use a transparent plastic sheet to cover a larger number of plants lying next to each other.

Aids for sowing

  • Make holes in the soil for sowing seeds with an old pencil or a screwdriver.
  • Sow bigger seeds outdoors by putting them into a plastic bottle. Then drill a hole in the cap, screw it on and insert a drinking straw in the hole for air. The seeds will come out one at a time.
  • When sowing small seeds outdoors, keep them from falling too close together by mixing them with sand or by sprinkling them onto the garden bed with a sieve.
  • Use an empty plastic yogurt or margarine tub as an economical alternative to commercial seed containers. Just wash thoroughly and punch drainage holes in them.

Sowing in a pot

Place several seeds in a pot filled with potting soil. Insert a plastic stick that identifies the plant. Put a plastic bag over the pot. It will keep the soil moist and protect it against any draft.

Propagation by seed

  • Collect mature seeds during sunny weather and leave them to dry on paper towels where there is plenty of air — try to avoid direct sunlight.
  • Store seeds in a cool, dry and dark place. Use labelled paper bags, envelopes or plastic boxes for storage.
  • Test the capacity of seeds to germinate. Place several in a glass of water. Those capable of germinating will sink to the bottom.
  • Sow seeds that germinate in the dark, such as beans, about two centimetres (one inch) deep. Those that germinate in the light (such as basil and lobelia) should be strewn on fertilized soil, then lightly pressed down in firm contact with the earth. You can lightly sprinkle soil on top of them using a sieve.
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