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Seed Propagation - the trials and tribulations!

I love growing plants, my garden and shadehouses are literally overflowing with all sorts of different things, I especially like using seeds in particular for many reasons - the fact that most are pretty easy to grow from, I love watching the actual process of the seed sprouting and then of course the resultant plant that grew from that tiny (or big) seed!

We do extensive seed testing on the seeds that we supply to our customers. It's very important for quality control because we need to make sure that the seeds that go out are viable and also to test new or different methods of propagation and update our propagation notes if need be.

We also check any seeds that customers have had problems with to be sure that the seeds are still ok and it was an environmental issue on the growers end.

Propagating at home is different from what it’s like in a Propagation Nursery, so it is important to remember that you probably won’t get the same results i.e. the same strike rate or rate of growth. Nurseries have worked hard and spent a lot of money to set up the right conditions in their greenhouses/shadehouses, with the correct ventilation, humidity, automated watering systems etc so it’s not surprising that this would be the case.

Strike rates vary from species to species as well, some have a low germination rate and others grow like weeds! A good strike rate is anywhere from 70% upwards but some species only get around a 25% strike rate, so that is classed as good for that particular plant species.

Again it all depends on a multitude of things and not just the viability of the seeds you are growing.

Last week I decided that we’d start to batch test some of our wildflowers and in two days was pleasantly surprised to have some Rhodanthe chlorocephala rosea seeds sprout, next to rear their little baby leaves were Xerochrysums and now the Wahlenbergia seedlings are beginning to emerge, so miniscule but they have started!

It’s important to remember that seeds will sprout at their own pace and not to give up too quickly, sometimes we can help them out with pre-treatments, others you just have to wait it out. Usually they will sprout when the environmental conditions are perfect so we can try to mimic them which is sometimes successful but sadly, not always.