Growing plants can be great fun, but if you are a beginner, the thought can be quite daunting! Our beginners guide is bursting with great advice about propagation, from what it means to why you should try it yourself. If you’re thinking about trying propagation for the first time, we’re here to help.
What is propagation?
Propagation is growing new plants from seeds, cuttings and even other plant parts like roots. Instead of buying ready grown plants, you can save some money and have the satisfaction of nurturing your own plants by propagation.
There are several ways to propagate your plants, but sowing seeds is a great place to start if you’re just beginning your gardening journey.
The whole family can get involved in sowing seeds, you don’t have to be an expert.
If you’ve got some mini gardeners at home, they’ll love seeing a little seed transform into glorious green plants. Try cress or peas, they’re a simple starting project and will give them something to watch and then enjoy eating themselves.
With a few simple pieces of equipment, you’ll have a flourishing garden, and with careful planning, you can enjoy colourful plants all year round.
Some seeds can be sown straight into well prepared soil outside, and some will need to start in a propagator to get them to germinate, once they are strong enough you can transfer them to your chosen spot.
Using a propagator means you’ll be able to encourage seeds to germinate when the temperatures in the soil outside are too low.
You can start your vegetable crop early, by using your propagator to germinate seeds in early spring when it would normally be too cold. You’ll be ready with established 4-6 week old plants when the soil warms enough to plant out in late April or early may.
A propagator is basically made up made up of a plastic cover, tray, and growing pockets, and once you’ve popped your compost and seeds in, you just need to keep in somewhere warm, like a windowsill, but out of direct sunlight.
Using cuttings is another way of propagating plants. Choose from the stem, side shoots, roots or leaves. You can either take softwood cuttings, which are the young growth tips of the plant, or hardwood cuttings, which are a less flexible, branch material.
You don’t need to be a horticultural specialist to try this technique, it’s a simple way to grow more of your favourite garden plants.
All you’ll need is a sharp, clean blade to take your cutting, some rooting gel to get your plant started, and somewhere suitable to plant it.
Read more about propagating from cutting in our how to guide:
Propagation using bulbs is another way you can get everyone involved in the garden. It’s a simple technique, that doesn’t require much equipment, but can result in beautiful flowers or tasty vegetables in a few easy steps.
In most cases, you can just push the bulb straight into the soil. Read more about growing bulbs in our how to guide:
Other methods of propagation
If you research propagation, you’ll find that there are a lot of other, sometimes more complex ways to propagate plants.
These include division, which involved growing new plants by splitting an old one, and layering, where shoots are encouraged to form roots while still attached to the parent plant.
You might want to explore these when you become more confident with gardening.