Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

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Paul D
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Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Paul D » Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:08 pm

Lots of people have their own, different, tried and tested methods for growing cacti from seed and I hope this won't start a fierce argument! I have just started planting seeds for this year and I took some photographs- I thought others might like to see the way I do it. I don't claim to be an expert by any means but this method has worked for me for a good few years now. It may not suit other people's circumstances.
Note that the seeds shown here are Aylostera (Mediolobivia, Rebutia) seeds and other genera may do better with different methods.
seed sowing 1 sm.jpg
I start by preparing the pots. These are clean pots with a small piece of kitchen roll in the bottom to stop soil coming through the drainage holes. The pots are B.E.F. pots, in the smallest size they come in (2 inch or 5cm). They are laid out in watering trays.
seed sowing 2 sm.jpg
Next I fill the pots with Clover John Innes Seed and Cutting Compost, straight from the bag. I don't sterilise. I don't mix anything in with it, it is just straight seed compost.
seed sowing 3 sm.jpg
I tamp the compost down a little bit with another empty pot and clear away excess compost.
seed sowing 4 sm.jpg
I add water to the tray (from the tap) and allow the pots to soak up the water. I leave them for an hour or so.
seed sowing 5 sm.jpg
I remove any obvious lumps and wait until the compost goes darker in colour (i.e. wet).
seed sowing 6 sm.jpg
Each pack of seed is opened carefully, a label written with species, field number, date, origin of the seed, and any original catalogue or nursery number, and seeds are sprinkled on the surface of the compost, one pack for each of the pots. The seed is not covered, as many species require light to germinate.
seed sowing 7 sm.jpg
Once all the seeds are planted, pots are placed in groups of 4 in Tesco small-size tie-handled freezer bags. I find the blue colour helps prevent scorching on hot days. I blow into each bag to increase the CO2 and tie the handles.
seed sowing 8 sm.jpg
The bags are then placed in a heated propagator set at approx. 18 degrees C. They will stay there, unmoved, until late summer when I will open each one to check how they are doing, and start transplanting the larger ones into individual pots. Some of the seedlings will still be too small, in which case they stay in their bags until the following spring.

I appreciate this is a simple method compared to others! No sterilising, no mixing special compost, no special water, no tweaking and coddling through the first few weeks. No doubt some of it will be contentious and I've put on my crash helmet :wink: It works for me, germination rates are good, and survival of seedlings is good. The seed grown plants are healthy and strong.
Paul in North-east Scotland (Grampian Branch BCSS)
National Collection Rebutia, Aylostera & Weingartia (inc. Sulcorebutia). Also growing a mixture including Ferocactus, Gymnocalycium, Lobivia, Mammillaria, Asclepiads, Lithops, Crassula, Gasteria, Haworthia.
http://www.rebutia.org.uk
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Aiko
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Aiko » Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:32 pm

Paul D wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:08 pm
Once all the seeds are planted, pots are placed in groups of 4 in Tesco small-size tie-handled freezer bags. I find the blue colour helps prevent scorching on hot days.
I have "invested" a few euros in a few transparant boxes a year or two back to replace the plastic bags. Every box can hold 26 pots of seedlings, I have multiple boxes. Works like a charm, and less of a hassle than plastic bags. Somehow the plastic tends to "cave in" a bit after a while, as moist accumulates on the top part of the bags, the weight makes it sag a bit up to a point it sometimes almost reaches the soil. That could uplift some seedlings when I am not carefull checking up on things.
Paul D wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:08 pm
I blow into each bag to increase the CO2
Nice addition! Very interesting to know if that would really be beneficialy to the plants. But sure, why not?
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juster
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by juster » Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:55 pm

Very interesting Paul, a good, simple, streamlined system without a fuss.
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Christian
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Christian » Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:53 pm

No fuss, I like it! Do you ever get any trouble with fungus or moss? My biggest worry sowing seeds this way would be either of the two getting the upper hand before spotting it. This is why I tend to sow seeds on a thin layer of grit, but I am not too sure this makes much difference, and it might even slow initial growth as the roots need to travel further to reach the compost. Anyway, it‘s nice to see seed sowing can be done simply!
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HaoBao
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by HaoBao » Sun Feb 07, 2021 8:24 pm

Really good to see Paul, thank you, would like to see more stuff like this from other members too if they had time. People’s methods, setups, techniques, materials, grow lights if they use them etc.. would be good to have a kind of ‘how I do it’ section on the website.
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All my plants are kept indoors and I started collecting in August 2018. Favourites are Pachyphytum, Echeveria, Haworthia, Mesembs and oddball Cacti.
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Paul D
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Paul D » Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:44 am

Christian wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:53 pm
No fuss, I like it! Do you ever get any trouble with fungus or moss? My biggest worry sowing seeds this way would be either of the two getting the upper hand before spotting it.
I rarely have any trouble from fungus. I used to do everything to try and prevent it- sterilising pots and compost, peroxiding seeds, using boiled water, wearing gloves, spraying seedlings with copper sulphate solution at the first sign of damping off, checking them every week. Damping off was a real problem. I wonder how much of undesirable fungus, bacteria, liverworts, mosses, etc. come in via our own skin, or from water which has been standing about for a while, or compost left to the open air. I believe there is an inverse relationship between mollycoddling and growing up strong!

I do get moss on some pots, but haven't found it to be a problem. Seedlings grow happily alongside, in fact it might even help prevent fungus. If any pots look to be getting a bit too green, the shallow-rooted moss is usually easily removed in lumps with a pair of tweezers.
Paul in North-east Scotland (Grampian Branch BCSS)
National Collection Rebutia, Aylostera & Weingartia (inc. Sulcorebutia). Also growing a mixture including Ferocactus, Gymnocalycium, Lobivia, Mammillaria, Asclepiads, Lithops, Crassula, Gasteria, Haworthia.
http://www.rebutia.org.uk
Herts Mike
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Herts Mike » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:52 am

Here's my two penn'orth..
I don't sow cactus seed any more, all succulents these days.

Scald pots first and dry. John Innes and vermiculite 50/50. Sow seed just under surface if large or just sprinkle on surface if small and shake pot carefully. Stand pots in washing up bowl and pour boiling water in to bowl. Wait until soaked up then drain and seal into plastic bags then into propagator at about 25c.
Open bags 14 days after first germination and ensure compost doesn't dry out thereafter.
Sow winter growing plants e.g. Pelargoniums in autumn or January at about 20c.
Everything else sown end of Feb.
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Chris L
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Chris L » Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:28 pm

Paul, your method is very similar to my method - even down to the Tesco blue bags and blowing into them, both for the same reasons.... :grin:
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Paul D
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by Paul D » Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:13 pm

To follow on, here are some of last year's seedlings, ready for potting up.
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Paul in North-east Scotland (Grampian Branch BCSS)
National Collection Rebutia, Aylostera & Weingartia (inc. Sulcorebutia). Also growing a mixture including Ferocactus, Gymnocalycium, Lobivia, Mammillaria, Asclepiads, Lithops, Crassula, Gasteria, Haworthia.
http://www.rebutia.org.uk
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juster
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Re: Seed planting season has started. Here's the way I do it.

Post by juster » Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:20 pm

They look great, you're going to be busy :wink:
Croydon Branch member, growing mainly cacti and Echeverias
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