Top ten tips for propagating seeds

There’s now not a lot to a garden Darbi that’s extra fun than growing plants from seed, and now, as mild stages and temperatures, upward thrust is the time to indulge your keen green arms. Seed sowing basics are properly documented, but what approximately the little tweaks maximize your probabilities of achievement? Arms-on revels in teaching gardeners through trial and blunders; I’m no exception.

Here’s a list of diffused changes determined over the years that have edged me toward propagation precision. With luck, you’ll upload your personal at the give-up to create a cornucopia of observations to help many seedlings emerge triumphantly this spring. Water temperature is important. It doesn’t matter if you sown seeds with bloodless water; however, after that factor, use liquid at room temperature to avoid stressing the emerging seedlings. At East Donyland Corridor in Essex, where I work, I’m lucky to have access to a massive propagator in which I keep a watering can, constantly topped up. Let any water from a tap stand overnight in a hot spot. While pricking out, now it is not the best to use warmed water, but fill the new pots with compost the day before and water them, then leave them overnight (in a propagator if you may) to heat up.

Seedlings in a propagator

The viability of certain seeds can plummet in just a few years, so it’s worth chitting older seeds first. Photo: Alamy Test seed viability by using chitting. I hoard seeds as if they’re a reference library for my horticultural tastes and travels, but they have drawbacks. The viability of certain species can plummet in only some years – alliums, violas, and parsley, especially if no longer stored somewhere cool and dry (test the fine sown by way of date at the packet). That’s where chitting can help. This technique forces seeds to germinate – if they can. Strive for a small sample because if they don’t sprout, they’re lifeless and are first-class thrown away (keep the packet in case you’re sentimental). To chit seeds, lay a few kitchen papers in the base of a tray. Wet it, drain away any extra and lay your seeds on the pinnacle. Cover with clingfilm and location somewhere 18-20C. You have to see germination within every week.

If sowing outdoors in rows at set spacings (inclusive of huge beans), always sow 1/2 a dozen or so more along to fill in any gaps that will necessarily appear. Occasionally, seedcoats remain, masking the cotyledons as your seedlings emerge. They can be difficult if the environment is dry, stopping the leaves from unfurling – hand mists them frequently with warm water to keep the cases gentle so that they spoil open. Spend money on an excellent watering can rose – one that emits mild droplets of water. It’s so clean to dislodge or flood out seedlings otherwise.

There’s no getting around it – correct, multidirectional mild is crucial. As soon as it emerges, a seedling will become stretched and leggy in only a few days, giving it an uphill battle for survival from the off. If you’ve not cleaned your glass and propagator, do so. For those on finance, lining the lower back of your propagator with silver foil will help a touch. The late excellent Geoff Hamilton encouraged portraying a large cardboard field white at the inner front facet, which was eliminated to mirror what window mild you had. Alternatively, you may spend money on a few grow lights (control. stocks a respectable range).


Sow broad beans like this range ‘Aquadulce’ in deep packing containers. However, other seeds will be fine in shallow trays. Image: Anne Gilbert/Alamy Until mainly directed to apply deep bins (for sweet peas and extensive beans, for instance), sow in shallow trays or modules. A propagator handiest applies its heat from the bottom, so you want to get your seeds as close to this supply as possible.


Thermometers are a crucial piece of kit. Buying the one that shows the most and minimum temperatures will permit you to reveal your propagation environment carefully. Extra heat can be as dangerous as a kickback, and every species has its favored germination variety. Onions and huge beans, for example, can germinate at 8C, while courgettes need 18C, and a few chili peppers demand 20C. Cool-loving species can be inhibited from germination if the temperature is too excessive, yet this could be the ultimate variety for others, so keep in mind propagator bedfellows. Read up on germination degrees for optimum emergence.

Buy a warming pad if you don’t have room to save an inflexible plastic propagator out of propagating season. Niftily, they may be rolled up While no longer in use (twowests. Seeds defy all the regulations and carry out better if carelessly thrown outdoors. Hardy annuals consisting of nigella, discipline poppies, phacelia, and borage, which resent transplanting, are precise examples. Taproot-forming species, which include onopordum and eryngium, are also exceptionally sown directly into the soil. Others, although, are surprisingly inconsistent. Primulas require light to germinate, terrestrial orchids want fungi, and proteas need smoke.