clear plastic bag over the container, again with thegoal of simply trapping existing moisture contained inthe media. If the bag is not rigid, it is common to usean appropriate length of bamboo stake or chopstick tokeep the bag from collapsing in on the fragileseedlings. Some seedlings are very sensitive to saltsin water; therefore, for small seed germinationprojects, you may wish to use deionized bottled wateruntil seedlings are up and actively growing. If seedhas been sown with a high density, you will mostlikely have to transplant the fragile seedlings to adifferent container (e.g., cell pack) to allow theseedlings to reach a size that can be transplanted intothe garden or landscape.
Figure 2. Seed germination trays.
Especially with woody plants, you will need tobecome familiar with two terms:
. In a simple sense,
involvesdifferent methods imposed by man to cause seeds togerminate after simulating environmental conditionsthat seeds would normally experience in nature. Forexample, think about a red oak acorn that falls to theground in the fall. In nature it is exposed to wintertemperatures and then begins germinating thefollowing spring. The internal signals keep the acornfrom germinating in the fall before harsh weathersets in. Knowing this, if you harvest red oak acorns inthe fall and then want to germinate the seed indoors,you need to replicate what would have gone on innature. Therefore, the red oak acorns are placed in acontainer with moistened media and then placed in arefrigerator (32 to 45 degrees F) for three months.These “stratified” seeds can then be removed from therefrigerator and sown, and germination should beginsoon if the temperatures are suitable. Referencebooks will clearly mention what kind of stratificationregime is required for each species.
is any physical process that softensor damages the seed coat making it more permeableto water and air. Again, propagation books clearlyindicate which species require scarification toimprove germination. Plants in the Legume familyare one group often mentioned. For small seeds, youcan simply place the seeds between two layers of medium sand paper and then rub the sheets back andforth. For larger seeds (e.g., Kentucky coffee tree),you can use a metal or nail file to abrade the seedsurface. Seeds can also be scarified using hot water(170 to 212 degrees F). With this method, simply dropthe seeds into four to five times their volume of hotwater, remove water from the heat source and let theseeds soak for 12 to 24 hours unless the literaturestates otherwise.
Vegetative (asexual) propagation techniquesinclude cuttings (e.g., root, stem, leaf), budding orgrafting, layering and division. Propagation techniques such as cuttings, layering and division can beeasily performed by home gardeners; however,budding and grafting typically require more skill.
An understandingof terminology isrequired before goingfurther. A number of terms are used whendiscussing cuttingpropagation. Simpleterms are used todescribe where thecutting originatedfrom (e.g., root, stem,leaf), or with stemcuttings, the relativeage of the wood/tissue(e.g., softwood, semi-hardwood, hardwood). With stemcuttings, we may also refer to the number of nodes.Nodes are simply the locations on the stem where theleaves originate from (i.e., more precisely, where thebuds are located). It is also common to refer to theoverall position on the stem that the cutting wastaken from (e.g., terminal, sub-terminal). For example, it is common for a gardening book to instruct youto collect “terminal cuttings with three to four nodes.”With most cuttings, you also need to pay attention tothe original “up and down” ends of your cuttings(polarity). If you think you will have trouble keepingtrack once you have removed a cutting from a stem,you can simply use a lateral or cross-cut to referencethe top/“up” and an angle cut to reference thebottom/“down” of the cutting.The
you use to root cuttings can have asignificant impact on your rooting results, not onlythe number of new roots but the growth of theseroots. An ideal rooting media needs to be sterile, welldrained and provide adequate oxygen. Individualcomponents that are most commonly used includecoarse perlite, coarse vermiculite, peat moss andsand/pumice. These individual components can becombined in a variety of ways and percentages.Examples include 50% peat moss: 50% perlite(volume basis); 50% perlite: 50% vermiculite; 100%perlite; 100% sand/pumice; and 100% peat moss.Rooting cubes (e.g., Oasis Rootcubes
) made out of foam are also used.
Figure 3. Typical three-nodesemi-hardwood cutting withbasal leaves removed.