Raising your own plants is a satisfying and inexpensive way to increase your plant stocks, and the good news is that you can propagate plants for your whole garden.
So whether you need more flowers for your beds and borders, or you want to increase your fruit and vegetable production, follow our easy guide to two of the simplest propagation methods, and watch your plant stock multiply!
There are many methods of propagation to use depending on the plants you’re working with, but here we’ll look at raising plants from seeds, and propagating from runners.
Raising Plants from Seed
You can use whatever seeds you like, as long as it’s time to plant them now – we’ve chosen the lovely Foxglove (digitalis).
- Compost suitable for seeds and cuttings.
- Seeds – a packet or some you have collected yourself.
- A complete mini-seed tray, comprising of your seed tray, a water tray and a cover.
- Water and a watering can.
- A label and pencil.
First you need to read your seed packet to determine the depth at which your seeds should be sown.
Then, fill your seed tray with compost to a level which will allow you to cover the seeds with more compost to the required sowing depth.
Water well to ensure that your compost is moist.
Sowing Your Seeds
Before you sow your seeds, it’s a good idea to empty the packet into the palm of your hand – so that you can see just how big (or small!) your seeds are before you start.
With particularly small seeds, the best approach is to pinch some between you finger tips and broadcast over your seed tray, being careful to sow nice and thinly to allow your seeds room to germinate and grow. If your seeds are larger, you can simply place them directly onto the surface of the compost.
Then cover the seeds carefully with a layer of compost, to the depth specified on your seed packet.
Watch Them Grow!
Next you need to label your seeds – because if you’re planting a lot then you want to make sure you know what they all are once the seedlings start to appear!
Finally, place the cover over your mini seed tray, or you can use a plastic bag if you don’t have a cover, to make sure that the tray retains moisture.
Some seeds prefer to germinate in the dark (check the instructions on your seed packet) otherwise place your tray in a cold frame, a greenhouse or on a window sill. Keep them moist (but not too wet) and allow them to germinate until they develop two pairs of leaves.
Once your seedlings have developed two pairs of leaves you can prick them out into pots, making sure that you handle them by the leaves since the stems are easily damaged. And when your seedlings have developed into small plants with good root systems, you can plant them out or pot them on as appropriate.
Planting seeds is both simple and rewarding – and a great way to make sure your garden is bursting with new plants this year!
Propagating from Runners
February is the perfect time to make the most of last year’s strawberry plants, so that’s what we’re using to show you how to propagate from runners.
For this task you’ll need:
- A hand fork
- Small plastic bags
- Suitable compost such as John Innes No 2
- Plastic pots
- A small cloche
You’ll see from the first image in the set of pictures below, a strawberry plant (on the left) has produced a runner and a new plant has grown (on the right) – you can also see a close up of the new plant, still connected to its parent by the runner.
First you need to free the new plant from the parent by snipping through the runner with sharp secateurs, close to where the runner joins the new plant.
Then carefully push your hand fork into the ground under the new plant.
Once your fork is underneath the plant, lift it carefully to avoid damaging the roots, and place it into a plastic bag to make sure your new plants don’t lose moisture while you are cutting and lifting your remaining plants.
Once you have collected all of your new plants produced by the runners, it’s time to pot them up!
Fill your pot half full with compost and then place your new plant into the pot, being careful not to damage the delicate roots.
Gently fill in the gaps with compost and firm down using your thumbs – and you have your brand new plant!
Once you’ve finished potting up your new plants, be sure to give them a good water. You can stand your new plants in a sheltered spot in the garden, but if you stand them under a cloche for protection until they are ready to plant out later in the year, you’ll get a much better crop in the first year – what more could you want!
We have all the seed trays, pots, compost, tools and other supplies you’ll need to start your own production, and a huge range of seeds just waiting for you to sow – so visit us in-store for everything you need to get started, ask our friendly, expert staff for advice if you need it – and look forward to a garden bonanza!