Creating New Plants

Cuttings that have successfully developed into small plants will need be transferred from small pots to 5 inch pots as they grow. Ideally, this should be performed just as the roots reach the side limits of the pot and before the plant becomes “pot-bound”.

Be very careful when repotting that you do not remove too much of the soil around the root ball and that the plant is placed straight and upright in its new pot. The plant should then be treated as per repotted plants.

The use of a portable potting tray

A portable potting tray is very useful for people who do not have a greenhouse or potting shed. It can be made from 6 inch boards: the ideal size is a base of 24 x 15 inches, sides and back 9 inches deep and the front around 4 inches.

Seed raising of house plants

There are a number of house plants and in door plants that are easy to propagate from seed. These include Aloe, a succulent plant with medicinal qualities, species of Asparagus, some of the Begonias, many examples of Cacti, Clivias, Cyclamens, members of the Eucalyptus family, varieties of Fuchsia, Grevilleas including G. robusta, Opuntia, the Phoenix palm, Primulas, Ricinus, Rochea (another succulent), hybrids of Saintpaulia and Solatium capsicastrum.

The best compost

Seeds, including those above, can be sown in top quality rich potting soil.

If you decide to use compost it should be sterilized by heating it for approximately 10 minutes in a sterilizer at around 180 degrees F, then allowing it to cool before use by spreading it out on a level surface.

Cheshunt Compound sterilizer, which can be purchased at any seed store can also be used to sterilize compost. It is a powder that, when dissolved in water, can be lightly sprayed over the compost either before or after sowing the seeds. It is safe to use for both humans and the smallest seedlings. You can also sterilize equipment such as seed boxes and pots this way, rendering them pest free. A good compost for seeds can be made by adding peat, sand and fertilizer to sterilized loam.

Seed compost preparation

All ingredients to make the soils should be carefully mixed after being sifted through 1 inch mesh. Fill the bottom of the pots or seed pans with the larger pieces from the siftings to cover drainage holes before filling them with the finer compost. It should then be pressed down slightly with the fingers and then made moist by placing the pot in a water tray, making sure that the water does not come above the rim (the water has to come up through the compost). Once the surface of the soil appears moist it should be taken from the tray of water and allowed to drain for some time before any seeds are sowed. Seeds should be sown sparsely then covered with more sifted compost. Covering depth of the seeds is dependent upon the size of the seeds; generally, the smaller the seed, the finer the cover and larger seeds should have a coverage in proportion to their largest diameter.

Once the seeds are sown and covered, panes of glass can be used to cover them and sheets of paper can be used as shades.

Tilting the glass to afford air

Turn the glass panel over each day to prevent condensation dripping on to the soil as this can promote decay. Once the seedlings appear, remove the paper shade and begin ventilation. This can be achieved by raising one side of the glass slightly ( a plant label between the panel and the pot works well).Continue this until it is safe to remove the covering completely.