Propagating Your Garden Plants
BE SAFE - IF USING ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT BE SURE IT IS SUITABLE FOR THE JOB YOU WANT IT TO DO - MAKE SURE IT IS CONNECTED TO THE ELECTRICTY SUPPLY CORRECTLY - IF IN DOUBT CONSULT A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN
Like most hobbies and
pastimes and things you enjoy doing, you can spend an absolute fortune
on all the latest gadgets and gizmo's.
And gardening is no exception. There are always new products hitting the garden center shelves or online stores with captions stating "You cannot manage without this super duper all singing all dancing latest product ~ Buy it now".
But just as you don't need lots of expensive tools for the job, you don't need lots of expensive equipment either.
And also like tools for the job, having the right propagating equipment makes the job a lot easier.
It will also give you more chance of success.
Most equipment required can be found in garden centers, DIY stores and hardware shops at very reasonable prices.
A good source for cheap, but good quality, propagating equipment are boot sales and yard sales where equipment can be found for pennies.
Used plastic pots can usually be found extremely cheap.
All you need to do is give them a good wash with disinfectant and you have yourself a plentiful supply of useable pots.
Ok, so what propagating equipment do you need for the job then?
Pots made of plastic are the best for propagating plants, as they are lighter and more hygienic than clay pots. They are also cheaper than clay and a lot less likely to be broken.
The 8cm size is ideal for potting seedlings and rooting cuttings.
Half pots, which are half the depth, or tow-thirds the depth of a standard pot, are just the job for sowing fine or small numbers of seeds. Use half pots to plant cuttings, they will root quite readily in these half pots.
Half pots use half, or two thirds the amount of compost as a standard pot. This can save a fair bit of money if you are propagating a lot of plants.
Pots smaller than about 8cm are not really recommended for propagating, as they tend to dry out very quickly.
You will need a range of sizes from 8cm to about 15cm, but this all depends on what type of plant you are propagating.
You will find that square pots fit better in trays, flats, and heated propagators. Indeed, square pots fit better anywhere, they take up a lot less room! They are recommended rather than the round pot.
Seed Trays, flats, are about 36cm by 22cm which is the standard size and are used for sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings and small rooted cuttings. They are also used for striking large numbers of small cuttings.
It is also handy to have some half and quarter trays for small amounts of seed sowing, transplanting and rooting small cuttings.
Seed trays, flats, come manufactured in rigid, semi-rigid and thin flexible plastics.
The *rigid is the strongest by far and is recommended. However, they are the dearest, about twice the price of flexible plastic, but they are worth the extra investment. (*This will increase your chance of success).
Semi-rigid plastic trays are ok if used with care, especially when lifting. If they are full of compost with seeds sown or cuttings planted they will twist as they are lifted if care is not taken. This twisting will disturb and dislodge any seeds, seedlings or cuttings, which will probably mean they will fail.
Thin flexible trays should be avoided. They will twist and distort much too easily when lifting, even with extreme care. It is also impossible to clean them without them breaking and splitting.
Although cheap, these thin flexible seed trays should be avoided and are NOT recommended as equipment for the job!
Seed Tray Inserts come in a vast array of seed tray inserts.
The module seed tray inserts are very useful for allowing seedlings and cuttings to develop strong root systems before they are transplanted.
And, what is more important, as the seedlings or cuttings are in a cell of there own, there is very little disturbance of the root system when they are transplanted. *These seed tray module inserts are highly recommended. (*This will increase your chance of success).
Although these seed tray inserts are an additional cost, they will pay for themselves over and over again, as you will certainly have more success with your propagating.
Seed Tray Covers can be bought which are made from clear plastic, *which will create an ideal micro climate around rooting cuttings.
Some are complete with ventilation louvers which help to reduce excess condensation. They also give some moisture and temperature control, but not much.
These clear plastic seed tray covers can also be bought separately from the seed trays.
(*This will increase your chances of success).
Labels are an essential when propagating plants. Always, always, always label your pots or trays of newly sown seeds or cuttings, include the plant name and date on the label.
It is so easy to forget what seeds you have sown or what cuttings you have planted if you do not label them straight away. Especially if you are propagating several different types of plants.
The result of not labelling can be very frustrating. A good example is propagating fuchsias.
With so many different fuchsia varieties and so many varieties looking very similar, without a label you are unable to identify which plant it is.
Imagine having a dozen rooted fuchsia cuttings ready to be potted on.
Without a label, what are they? Bush? Hardy? Trailer? Who knows? You will have no idea. So many fuchsias look the same it is impossible to tell. You will not know how to treat them to get the best results.
What size pot do you use? (Fuchsias need to be “stopped” (trimmed) to get the best overall plant shape).
If you don't know what variety it is, bush or trailer, how can you stop the plant to get the best overall shape.
So, use a label. And don't forget, use a label.
Heated Propagators are a must have piece of equipment for seeds or cuttings that need a constant heat to help them germinate and root.
The heated propagator will give a bottom heat, which is much more important to germinating seedlings and rooting cuttings, than air temperature.
These heated propagators come with a heated base and a clear plastic cover, usually with louver vents. They are available in various sizes, some are suitable for use on windowsills.
Heated propagators are available with or without thermostatic control. If there is no thermostat to control the heat output then the heat is on permanently.
This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep the heat in the propagator at the required constant temperature. End result is that the seeds or cuttings could be baked.
If you are going to buy a heated propagator, buy one with *thermostatic control!
(*This will increase your chance of success).
Being able to adjust the temperature by a thermostat gives you complete control of the microclimate inside the propagator. You can set the temperature required, by the thermostat, and it will be constantly maintained, within a degree or two.
But, of course, having a feature such as thermostatic control comes at a price. Thermostatically controlled propagators are at least half the price again of propagators without a thermostat.
But the extra price is a very good investment especially if you intend propagating lots of plants.
Unheated propagators are available in various sizes and come complete with a clear plastic cover, sometimes with louvers or vents.
Some are suitable for use on windowsills which are ideal if you are short on space.
Unheated propagators are invaluable for maintaining a high humidity for seedlings and cuttings.
Unheated propagators, unlike heated propagators, will not maintain a constant temperature. The temperature inside the propagator will fluctuate with the surrounding ambient temperature.
Don’t be put off by this fluctuation in temperature as you can obtain exceedingly good results with seed sowing and cuttings with unheated propagators.
Start off with an unheated propagator and progress to a heated one as and when you become more experienced.
Cold Frames are invaluable for *propagating some types of seeds and cuttings.
They are also used for hardening off plants before being planted out.
Cold frames are worth their weight in gold for *over-wintering some types of seedlings, rooted cuttings and some types of mature plants.
(*This will increase your chances of success)
Cloches can be used to warm up the soil, provide shelter from cold winds and give some protection from light frosts.
They are especially useful in giving vegetable seeds and young plants an early start. Cloches will give some newly planted vegetable plants a head start.
And if used for strawberries they can give you an earlier than usual crop.
Cloches can also be used to root a wide range of (easily rooted) cuttings.
Cloches come in plastic film and rigid plastic tunnel types. Glass is also still used but usually the rigid cloche is made from plastic materials.
Make your own with clear plastic sheet and plastic water pipe, or similar, for supporting hoops. *Plastic drinks bottles, the two liter size, with the bottom cut off can be used as a cloche for individual plants.
Leave the top on or unscrew and remove for ventilation. These plastic bottles are ideal for many plants, and not just vegetables!
(*This will increase your chances of success).
The following items are recommended for the serious propagator or if you intend propagating lots of plants. They will give excellent results for successful plant propagation.
Soil Warming Cables come in various lengths depending on how big you want your propagating unit.
Soil warming cables need to be covered with moist sand in a purpose built frame. Not the ideal thing if you are not a handy DIY'er.
But having said that, they really are quite easy to make using five inch by half inch, soft wood planks cut to the required lengths and butt jointed and a plywood base.
Line the frame with waterproof plastic and add a 2 inch layer of gritty sand.
Arrange the required length of soil warming cable on top, fitting a thermostat, if required and then add another one inch of gritty sand.
Make a simple clear polythene cover supported by props, and hey presto, there you have it, your own soil warming unit.
Don't forget though, with all that sand the unit will be quite heavy. So make sure your bench is strong enough to take the weight.
Electric Heat Mats unlike soil warming cables do not need to be covered with sand.
They can simply be laid out on a bench and will give bottom heat to your seeds and cuttings, and if fitted with a thermostat, ideal.
Make a cover from clear polythene to provide a microclimate for even better results and you really are giving your propagating success chances a real boost.
These heat mats, once your seedlings or rooted cuttings have been transplanted, can simply be rolled up for storage.
Propagation Benches can be made with the use of electric heat sheets, or electric heat blankets, no, not the type you have on your bed in winter, but special designed heat blankets.
These heat sheets come in various sizes and need to be laid on one inch thick polystyrene.
On top of the heat sheet is a sheet of thick gauge polythene and on top of that a sheet of capillary matting which is thoroughly wetted.
A cover of clear polythene on a home made from will retain the heat and provide an invaluable microclimate.
The heat sheets usually come with a sensor and a thermostat, or they can be purchased separately.
Although fairly expensive, and you have to install them yourself, a wide range of plants can be successfully propagated on these propagating benches.
If you intend propagating a lot of plants a propagating bench, installed in a green house, or conservatory would be a very wise investment. They are highly recommended.
Mist Propagators, now we are talking serious propagating. And serious money.
Mist propagators control the temperature and minimise plant moisture loss by a controlled periodic misting of the foliage of cuttings being rooted.
Misting will dramatically reduce transpiration by reducing the leaves temperature and by maintaining a high humidity at the surface of the leaves.
Mist propagators are best left to the experienced and to the professionals. But who knows, you may become experienced yourself and wish to invest in one? Let's hope so!
Storage You will need somewhere to store all your tools and equipment such as a shed, garden storage unit or spare space in your garage.
There are so many different types of storage for gardening equipment available these days, including wooden sheds and metal sheds in different designs and sizes, plastic and metal storage boxes in different designs and sizes, wooden and metal garden storage units again in different designs and sizes.
You really are spoilt for choice, in the type of material, design and price. There is something for everyone and every garden.
It's just a case of deciding which is best for you, your tools and equipment and your garden.
Well that raps up the equipment for propagating. No doubt you will find your own equipment as you become more experienced.
We hope you have found this useful!
If you want any further information on equipment for propagating gardening plants or gardening in general please feel free to contact us
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