Page 1 of 2 “Growing Plants from Seeds and Cuttings” Notes of talk by David Marshall given to Halton MGs on April 3rd 2013 - submitted by David Oldacre Topics covered 1: Growing Medium Don’t use garden soil. David recommended that we use Grow-mix for a potting soil which contains a mixture of sphagnum peat moss, perlite and compost 2: Lighting considerations Lights should be placed about 5” to 6”above the plants, and rather than use the long conventional fluorescent bulbs, use a combination of three or four compact fluorescent light bulbs such as those which are now being used in house lighting to replace the old incandescent lights. David demonstrated a couple of lighting systems which he uses with his planters. For seedlings to germinate and to grow properly, the planter lighting systems needs to should be on for 14 hours per day. 3: Building a home made planter David demonstrated the building of a planter with strips of Styrofoam sheets about 9” by 30” and some plastic shelving posts which can be purchased at any major hardware store like Home Hardware, Rona, etc. This would be big enough to hold up to four seeding trays using, and all you need to assemble this would be nails which could be pushed in by hand, in which the lighting system could be nestled in on the top of the planter, and the trays slid in underneath. It certainly did not take long to assemble, although the one which David assembled was fairly rigid, it might need a few things to ensure it stayed that way! 4: Seeding and transplanting considerations David demonstrated an easy way of transplanting Zinnias using soil placed in a half toilet roll. The beauty of this is that the seedling, once it is big enough, can be transplanted straight into the garden bed simply by placing the whole thing in the ground which eliminates transplanting shock. 5: Types of cutting The simplest type of cutting is the basal cutting – although there are others in common use such as layering. Basal cuttings should be from new growth and be at least 3” in length and then should be placed in the ground so that half of it is below and half is above the soil level. As long as the cuttings are well watered, they will develop roots very quickly. Cuttings should include at least one node with the leaves of the lower node removed. A node is important because it is where the plant’s stem cells are most common 6: Rooting hormones There are three levels of rooting hormone: Rooting Hormone #1 0.1% for softwood cuttings Rooting Hormone #2 0.4% for semi-hardwood cuttings Rooting Hormone #3 0.8% for hardwood cuttings but in actual fact you can save money by buying only one type of rooting hormone because they are in fact exactly the same in composition. So both the 0.4% and 0.8% types can be diluted to produce a lower percentage. In addition to this, you can produce rooting hormone using mashed up some pussy willow branches, since pussy willow has a rooting hormone in its sap. However, this should really only be used for watering rather than for rooting. Page 2 of 2 7: 7: Basal cutting techniques a) Softwood cuttings Use cuttings of the tips of spring growth for of shrubs and other perennials. Softwood cutting have to be kept moist, but not too moist – and one good way of achieving this is by regular misting b) Semi hardwood cuttings Use a number 2 hormone for rooting of Semi hardwood cuttings c) Hardwood cuttings This should be prepared in the fall after the leaves have fallen. The cuttings should be about 12” in length, and planted in the soil with the top half of the cutting above the soil level. Rooting Hormone #3 should be used and it is probably best to put them in planters for placing in the house basement or garage over the winter until they are ready to be moved outside in the next Spring Question about Lavender cuttings David said that there was only a very narrow window for using lavender cuttings, and this should be done using cuttings from non-flowering stalks and immediately after flowering.