Propagation Tips - Growing Your Own Plants From Seeds/Young Plants

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Keen to try your hand at propagation?  There are lots of reasons to try growing your own plants from seed including a much larger variety of plants to choose from, not to mention gardening 100% organic.  Maybe you’d like to save yourself some money by getting a number of plants growing to save you from buying them all, or maybe you’re just up for a challenge, want to try something new and enjoy the gardening process!  Thankfully, if you’re willing to exercise a little patience, nearly anyone can accomplish growing plants from seed.

If you’re keen to give it a go, you will be pleased to know that we have a large Propagation range available in store to help you get started.  

Our top tips when growing from seed:

Preparing to plant:

1)  Select seeds that will thrive in your garden.  You’ll need to choose varieties that thrive in your local environment.  When you purchase seeds, pay attention to the ideal soil temperature, water requirements, nutritional needs, and light needs for each species of plant.  Keep in mind that there are likely to be lots of species that you haven’t heard of, because they are only available as seeds (not as starter plants or cuttings).  A member of the Coolings Plant team will always be happy to help you choose the seeds to suit your needs and environment if you need some help.

2) Get the right compost.  Seeds can be planted outdoors, but suffer a much higher chance of dying if done so: garden soil is full of plant diseases and insect that can quickly kill off seeds.  It’s best to start your seeds off indoors with compost that is low in nutrients.  We recommend Levington Seed & Cutting Compost (20L £4.29).  Then at Pricking out stage we would recommend Coolings Professional Compost which is what we use for our home grown plants on our on-site nursery (35L £4.99 or 60L £6.49).

3) Get the right gear!  When planting indoors, you’ll need a few things in order to ensure proper germination of your seeds.  Purchase a set of seed trays for your seeds and a heat and light source of some sort, because windows aren’t good enough at providing both for your seeds.  An electric propagator will do the trick at keeping your seeds plenty warm and bright.  

4) Know about the seeds you are growing.  Familiarise yourself on the ideal growing conditions for that particular plant, the length of time the seeds take to germinate, the earliest they can be planted outdoors.  Most of these things will vary from plant to plant, and will determine when you should begin planting.  Typically, seeds should be planted 4-6 weeks prior to being moved outside, but this is not always the case with some species.  You may have to plant your seeds indoors a bit earlier or later than usual as well, depending on the outdoor weather conditions.

Planting your Seeds:

1)  You’re ready for planting!  Moisten your potting mixture so that it is fully damp; when seeds are first sown, they need an extra bit of moisture in order to start the germination process.  Then, sprinkle your seeds sparingly onto the compost in a seed tray and cover them with a thin layer of vermiculite.  Again, it’s important to check your seed packet as certain species have individual needs.  Write the seed variety and date sown on a plant label and stick it in the side of the tray.

2) Water regularly.  Seeds rely on a constant water supply to germinate, thereby producing a sprout.  Be careful not to over water.  Potting mixture should be moist but never soaking.

3) Keep them warm.  Add a layer of glass over your seed tray to create greenhouse-like conditions to aid germination if you are not using a propagator, but don't let the germination seeds touch the glass.

4) Move your seeds to natural light when sprouted.  After a few days you should notice your seeds begin to push tiny sprouts through the soil.  It is a good idea to move them to a window that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day. 

5) Keep an Eye on your plants.  It should take several weeks before your plants are ready to be replanted outdoors.  Most plants sprout a first set of leaves that are known as the ‘seed leaves’ this is when pricking out should be done into cell trays or pots.  Handle the leaves only, to avoid damaging the stalk.

6) Once the plants have established a good root stem system they can be acclimatised (hardened off) outside during the day and brought back indoors at night until it’s safe to plant in the garden (after the last frost).

7) Ready for the great outdoors.  After all your hard work your plants should now be ready to move into a permanent location outdoors for you to enjoy.  Specific directions will vary depending on the plant but transplanting generally involves wetting the soil, digging a hole slightly larger than your plant, lightly firming with a bit more soil and watering in.

It will take a few weeks for your plants to fill in, but eventually they will start looking beautiful. Add a layer of mulch to the soil to block out weeds and trap in moisture.  Water regularly and add a liquid fertilizer when required such as Miracle-Gro Liquid Fertiliser Pour and Feed (£4 for 1 Ltr).

Young Starter Plants/Plug Plants
If you enjoy fresh plants and vegetables but don’t have the time or inclination to nurse a plant from seed then our young plant ranges are the perfect option for you!  For the keen gardener, our starter plants gives you more satisfaction than buying finished plants, as you watch your floral creations develop and bloom, and saves you money without the stress of propagating from seed or cuttings.

The young plants will be ready to plant out from about mid may, until then they will need to be protected (ideally in a greenhouse but a window sill will do). 

Starter plants grow into larger, stronger plants earlier in the season, producing superior crops.  We have a large selection of young starter plants now in stock at Coolings, The Gardener’s Garden Centre including ornamental and vegetable plug packs and individual patio and hanging basket plants. Young plants are an easy, economical way to ensure your garden is full of long lasting, vibrant summer colour.

here’s how to give starter plants the best start:
  • Pop the plant out of its plug and either plant in an individual pot or into a hanging basket or container using a good compost such us Coolings Professional Compost.
  • They respond well to plenty of sunlight in a heated greenhouse or window sill.
  • Turn containers frequently.
  • Make sure they don’t get too hot on a sunny day, and that they don’t dry out or get too cold at night.
  • If planting in baskets/containers add Osmocote slow release fertilizer (Scotts Osmocote Plant Tablets (£3.99 for 25 tablets) and water retaining granules (follow packet instructions).
  • After the last frost they can be hardened off by placing them outside on warm days in shade and shelter.
  • Work up to putting them out in all conditions during the day, then after a couple of weeks they can be left outside to give you months of enjoyment (usually mid to end of May but be guided by the weather).
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