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Propagation Workshop with Alistair Glen

Sponsored by the Southeast Coast chapter

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Alistair Glen, owner of Growing Wild Nursery, demonstrates how to propagate native plants from seeds, cuttings and divisions.  Photos are by Valerie Robertson, publisher of Cape Fear’s Going Green.

Beginning with a seed...

Participants placed a layer of perlite on top of the potting soil, spreading the seeds evenly on top and then thinly covering with a second layer of perlite. This helps keep the seedlings from wilts caused by excessive moisture.

The seeds shown here are Baptisia alba. Alistair had prepared them by pouring boiling water over the seeds.

Spreading the seeds out evenly

It's harder than it looks!

Watering the newly planted seeds

We immersed the pots in an inch or two of water for 5 minutes. After planting. they need to be watered whenever they begin to dry out. With practice, a person can tell just by the weight of the pot.

Seedlings to repot

Alistair brought pots of seedlings (Red Bay, American Holly, Beauty Berry and Spigelia) for us to transplant into individual pots.

The seedlings need to be carefully separated.

It's important not to hold the seedlings by the stem.

Here Alistair teases out the roots with a pencil, holding the seedling by the leaves.

Potting up the seedlings

Propagation by division

Clumps can be divided with a sharp knife, making sure each division has plenty of roots.

A newly planted division of Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum.

Division is a good technique for propagating plants that have some desirable characteristic; in this case, the plant is more upright than most forms of Switchgrass.

Propagation by cuttings

A cutting is made from healthy new growth in late spring or early summer. The stem should be pliable but not soft. Cuts are made just below a node and include three nodes. Remove the leaves at the bottom and cut back any excessive leaves that might wilt easily.

Cuttings in sealed plastic bags

It's important to keep the bags sealed until the cuttings are well rooted, about a month, keeping them in the shade. When rooted, the bag is opened gradually and the new plants are very gradually exposed to the sun (if they are sun plants!)


The final watering and careful adjustment of any leaning seedlings!

All the plants we took home with our fingers crossed!

Many thanks to Alistair for sharing his techniques.

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