Propagating Tips

  • If you have ever had trouble getting seeds to germinate and growing them on, the solution is to spray them 5 times a day with weak fertilizer. The NPK is varied to suit the end product:
    N for more leafy plants; K for flowering types. A watering can with a bit of Thrive should do the trick.
  • Seed   To propagating seed, put some damp peat moss into a plastic bag. This method is not suitable for ultra fine seed. Blow into the bag to puff it up, tie it off, then hang it up in the shade somewhere. Ref: Jan Sked
  • Propagating Seed from the Tropics  Many seeds from the tropics may have short viability - a few days for some so sow seed immediately. Some seed will not germinate until the temperature reaches over 30 degrees celsius so if you don't have these conditions, use a heat bed. 
  • Propagating Seed  Paul Recher uses cocopeat - puts it in a plastic ziplock bag - has great success.
  • Place seed in pots placed in polystyrene boxes in full sun but with cuttings I place them in a shadehouse. Ref: Jan Sked
  • I am sure all of us have many containers in which seeds have been planted but never germinated. In the past I have, after a time, thrown out the soil and started over again until I discovered new seedlings of things I had long given up on a heap of discarded soil but now I have noted something even more interesting. When I do double planting, i.e. plant seeds of things like tamarind which easily germinate in pots that have seeds I have long given up on, I find that the original seeds in the pot often germinate also. I have just observed this again with a range of seeds which were planted 8 months to a year and a half ago. I planted some sweet tamarind seeds in the same pots just before I left for the US, and now, upon returning home, I find tamarind seedlings together with seedlings from many of the seeds I had long given up on. Has anyone else observed this? Do germinating seeds disperse chemicals into the surrounding soil that might cause other more recalcitrant seeds to germinate?  Ref:  Thurston - Sth America
  • Pectinase is useful if you have seed with the pulp still sticking on and no amount of sucking, scrubbing or soaking in plain water will remove it. Put in a teaspoonful mixed in water and leave it overnight and the adhering pulp will slip off the seed with gentle scrubbing the next morning.  Ref: Samar - India
  • You may have read that when propagating seed to check its viability by putting it in water and any seed that floats is not viable however Oscar in Hawaii says that seeds which depend on being carried by water for dispersal, float, e.g. Pond Apple which grows in the everglades in Florida (Annona glabra) floats. Noni (Morinda citrifolia), growing along the ocean shores, also floats. Rollinia deliciosa grows in the Amazon basin where land is often flooded so it makes sense that it would also float.
  • Bob Cannon says that one trick he learned was to sprout radish seeds along with recalcitrant seeds. (He has also, at times, sprouted the seeds in water then watered the difficult seed with the sprout water). It seems to work for some. He also suspects that some species release more of the favourable chemicals than others).
  • Propagating seed using 4 drawer plastic cabinets.  As soon as the seedling starts coming out I move it to the side where it can get some light then transfer it to the bottom drawers, which are much bigger, so that they have more room to grow. Then I move them to the top of the cabinet where they are exposed to even more light. Finally I move or transplant them to a shaded location out in the yard. The best feature, though, is the area on top of the cabinet which has indented pockets that hold water. That maintains the pots moist, but not saturated. No fungicide needed, and I usually leave the drawers closed to retain moisture, but I have thought about keeping them a little open for air circulation. I keep it in my patio, right next to the screen, so there's minimal air reaching inside. I get most seeds to sprout when I use it.  No problem with damping off.  Ref:  Jaime Zuniga – Miami
    Sheryl Interesting concept. He places a bit of water in each of the drawers so plants are able to access moisture from the bottom. Main thing to check would be to use a spirit level so drawers would be level to uptake water.  Those 4 drawer cabinets have 2 small drawers and 2 large drawers so just choose pots to suit the height.
  • Warren Lue from Jamaica says that a lot of fruit trees can be propagated by cuttings.  Successes include loquat, wampi, mangosteen, phyllanthus acidus, baccaurea etc. He uses coarse sand and perlite 4:1 with very little organic matter about 5% mist for 5 secs every 10 minutes till sundown.
  • Steve Flood, a TAFE horticultural lecturer on the Sunshine Coast says that plants strike well in sand but they don’t grow well and don’t like having their roots disturbed, so fill a pot with potting mix make a hole in the middle with a stick or something. Fill the hole with sand and put your cutting into the sand. Roots strike and then grow into the potting mix. Simple and effective. Pull leaves off the cuttings (if they remove without tearing stem) and the leaf scar heals better and infection is resisted. Don’t use rooting compounds unless needed; they encourage rooting but inhibit root growth. They are needed only on those plants that won’t strike naturally.
  • Calamansi   Verman from the Philippines says that he propagated scions from a calamansi tree and kept it with wet toilet paper in a Ziploc bag kept a in the crisper section of his refrigerator – easy to graft. Just follow the steps shown in the group's file section.  Ref:
  • Soft-Tip Cuttings: Usually taken in Spring. Very few fruit trees are propagated by this method, but generally anything in the Solanum group, such as Pepinos and Tamarillos will be fine.
  • Jiffy Pots   The Club has bought some of jiffy pots and we will be demonstrating them at our Field Trip in March. It’s a Norwegian sustainable resource forestry plant system and comprises a peat pellet surrounded by a fine biodegradable net. Seeds and seedlings are planted into the pellet which, when given water, expands to full size. It is then grown to the size required then planted out. Advantages of this system are unrestricted root development with air pruning and it also removes the need to purchase potting mix etc. Those who went to the Pummelo field trip will remember them being demonstrated there using them for marcots.   Ref: Sheryl Backhouse
  • Ilama   Either soak seed in a Giberellic acid solution overnight or plant them on a seedling heat mat. Both work. They grow on the sides of volcanos in Honduras and the ground is apparently quite warm to the touch. With no treatment, Ilama seeds can sit there for 6-12 months with no germination
  • Marcotting   I did some marcotting with the forestry size jiffy peat pots that the club bought. They are great to handle and the size is just right. To cover the marcot I used glad wrap about 90 mm wide (I cut it off a larger roll). I was able to use the wrap like a bandage and it didn’t need to be tied off. I then covered it with aluminum foil to protect it from the severe heat we have been experiencing. I also used the Jiffy Pots to strike some Blueberry cuttings. The cuttings were first sterilized and then put into the soaked Jiffy peat pots (100 x 50mm dia.).  I then put them into a white plastic bucket with a plastic bag over the top and sealed the bag to bucket with a large rubber band. The handle of the bucket held the bag up and a clothes peg kept it there. I lost 1 out of 8 of the cuttings. I had noticed that previously most cuttings rotted, probably from fungus infections.  The large forestry size Jiffy Pots will be on sale at the next club meeting for 20¢ each so bring in a container with a lid to take some home. I hope that this may be of help to some of you. Also, don’t forget we have the square forestry propagation pots in a frame for sale at the club. These have the special mesh bottom to air prune the roots and prevent root binding/strangulation. They are $7 per set of 20 which includes the frame.  Ref: George Allen 
  • Breadnut (A. camansi) and kwai muk can go into full sun when 2 feet tall. With Chempadek I like to wait till they are 4 feet tall for full sun. For me, the Kwai Muk has been a more vigorous grower than Chempadek. By vigorous I mean health of plant, not necessarily size of plant.   Ref:  Oscar - Hawaii
  • Fig Propagation   I have most success with dormant cuttings taken at about bud burst and planted into a warm raised bed covered with mulching cloth.  Poke cuttings through the cloth and leave only 1 bud exposed. 2 yr wood is more reliable that softer 1 yr wood. Bottom cut should be just below a node.  Dipping cuttings in systemic fungicide helps, as does wounding, a couple of vertical knife cuts to score the bark. Figs replanted into old beds seem reluctant to get going, so fresh friable and well aerated soil is helpful. If planting into potting mix, the nutrient level needs to be low at first until the plants get established, and not water logged at the bottom of the pot. Young plants are very prone to root rot.  Ref: Eric Cairns in New Zealand
  • Guava orchard I visited in Thailand air layered all the guavas they propagated. Language was a problem, but thought I understood that air layering was the only way they propagated their guava.    Ref: Samar Gupta, Mumbai, India
  • Jackfruit   I tried cuttings of Arto. species in Fiji and Arto. hetero. in Israel and it works but it takes a long time as the roots break easily so each cutting should be placed in a small pot and not in a rooting bed. I used apical cuttings only of 15-20 cms long leaving a few cut-halved leaves with bottom heat of 30 celsius.   Ref:  Ariel - Israel
  • Mango   If you get Mango scion at 1 to 6 months from flushing, the graft will have a long time to bear fruits, while if you get dormant scions 8 months up from flushing, they will be bearing earlier. However, when you transplant your grafted seedlings, and they grow healthy with good fertile organic rich soil, it will grow faster and bigger. Usually we can start making them flower and fruit at 5 years from field planting. Others may start bearing in one year, but we remove the flowers to induce faster vegetative growth. The bigger the tree, the more fruits it can produce.   Ref:  Rex - Philippines - rarefruit yahoogroup
  • Mango   Here's what Malcolm Manners revealed to Joe Real: Mango is picky to graft -- if you do it right, you can get 95% or better but if you don't do it right, expect next to zero%. Different people use different methods throughout the world. Here is the method preferred by Florida nurseries which gives excellent success: June is the best month to graft (this is for the USA – October is our equivalent here in Australia which is early summer) May and July (Nov & Dec in Aust) will give substantially less success, and any other month may be disastrous. Prepare budwood. About a week to 10 days before you want to graft, choose mature, dormant twigs on your scion-source tree, and clip off the leaves from the terminal 5-8 inches. Leave the petioles attached. DO NOT harvest the scions at this point. They should remain on the mother plant looking like little porcupines with their petioles sticking out in all directions. After a week, start gently nudging the petioles, daily. At first they'll just bend but stay attached but there will come a day when they fall off at the slightest touch of your finger. On that day, collect the scions and graft them. I like a veneer (=side veneer) graft about 3-4 inches long with the terminal bud attached. If there is no terminal bud, that's ok; the tree just won't be quite as straight/vertical at first. Whereas with most grafts, I make the scion cuts first, then hold the scion in my mouth while making the rootstock cuts, mango wood tastes bad and can be quite corrosive, and if you're allergic, can be life-threatening so with mango, I always cut the rootstock first, then just work really quickly to get the scion cut and into place. Wrap with polyethylene grafting tape, rather tightly. Cover all of the buds at first, except the terminal bud. Try to seal all the cut surfaces. After 4 weeks, carefully unwrap and then re-wrap the scion, this time leaving the axillary (as well as terminal) buds open to the air, but putting the tape back on the internodes, to continue to provide support and protection. At that time, also make a notch 1/4 of the way through the rootstock trunk just above the scion, on the same side as the scion. Also clip out the terminal bud of the rootstock. About every 2 weeks after that, cut a few inches of the rootstock top off, removing a few leaves each time. Of course, height and number of leaves on a rootstock will vary widely, but you are trying to encourage scion growth, but you don't want the rootstock to become leafless for a month to 6 weeks after the graft was first unwrapped. About 10 weeks after grafting, 6 weeks after rewrapping, you should have a nice sturdy stem on your scion, with mature leaves. At that point it is safe to completely remove the rootstock top down to the graft and to remove the grafting tape. This method is obviously rather labour-intensive and "picky." However, nurseries (and individuals) who use it routinely get well over 95% success; those who don't generally settle for 65% with expert grafters and far less if their grafters are less than expert.
  • Mulberry  In the dormant season take cuttings with at least three buds and root them in a sponge-rock material or bury the entire cutting upside down in the soil and keep moist for a few months until a callus forms – then invert and plant in a pot or the ground. A scion of your mulberry tree grafted to a seedling mulberry will develop a better root system than roots from a cutting. Layering is also an option but again the roots will not develop as well as those of a seedling. Ref: Fruit Gardener (CRFG) Sept/Oct 2002
  • Peach Seeds  Ray Johnson says to wash the fresh seed (do not open them up), store in a zip lock bag with a bit of wet paper towel and store in refrigerator crisper.  They should germinate in about 6 weeks.  When you see the little root coming out of the seed, plant in a potting mix with the root pointing down.  He has had probably 90% success rate.