The term "propagation" describes any process that gardeners use to grow new plants. This includes planting seeds, bulbs, or cuttings, grafting branches onto rootstocks, dividing existing plants, or layering plants that develop runners. Many plants use some of these processes to multiply naturally, but gardeners can use propagation techniques to encourage growth or cultivate heirloom varieties. There are several useful supplies that shoppers should buy to ensure successful propagation.
A propagator is any container used to house seedlings or new cuttings. A secure space gives plants a safe, controlled environment that allows seeds to germinate and seedlings to thrive.
A basic propagation set contains a few pots in simple trays. Trays help to keep the environment moist and prevent potting soil from spilling onto the floor.
Propagation boxes are effectively mini greenhouses that help seeds to sprout faster. Most propagation boxes consist of trays with protective, clear plastic covers that offer a warm, moist, and humid environment.
Some propagators contain lights or heating units. These electric propagators offer extra illumination or warmth for seeds and seedlings to allow them to flourish. This is particularly useful when planting winter varieties of seeds.
Although bulbs and some other plants grow best directly in the ground, many seeds and cuttings require a little bit of shelter. Small pots provide protection from birds, small animals, and weather conditions that could disturb garden beds during the sowing season. The smaller space is also easier to keep moist while seeds sprout and seedlings grow.
Peat pots are small containers made of biodegradable materials, such a peat or wood pulp. Gardeners can use them to start seeds or smaller cuttings. When a plant grows large enough to move to a garden bed, gardeners can place the entire pot into the ground without disturbing fragile roots. The pot breaks down into the soil eventually.
Gardeners can also start plants in small plastic pots. This is handy for seeds that need more space to sprout and for growing plants from cuttings. When a plant is large enough, gardeners can remove it from the pot very carefully and place it in the ground.
Most plants need soil or some kind of organic matter to propagate. Seed raising mix and peat blocks are popular options for growing plants from seeds or cuttings.
Seed raising mix
Seed raising mix tends to be a little bit lighter than ordinary potting soil, which is a mixture of peat or coir fibre, bark, sand, and compost designed for growing plants in containers. Seed raising mix offers better drainage for sensitive seedlings. Gardeners can buy sterilised seed raising mix or make a version at home by mixing one part peat or coir fibre, one part compost, and one part vermiculite.
A peat block is a compact cube of dried peat or coir fibre. Coir fibre tends to be popular because it is more environmentally friendly. Gardeners can add the coir to containers or starter pots and then water the mixture. Coir retains water better than traditional potting soil, which makes it handy for starting seeds.
Most plants that grow from bulbs propagate directly in the ground. Gardeners can use dibbers and trowels to dig small holes for bulbs without disturbing too much of the surrounding soil. They can also use these tools to dig spaces for seedlings when the time comes to plant them in the ground.
Dibbers are small plastic or wooden stakes with a handle. They are useful for making narrow, deep holes in garden beds. Some dibbers have measurements that allow gardeners to make holes of a particular depth.
Trowels are useful for digging holes. Gardeners also use trowels to remove existing plants from the ground in order to divide them or to dig trenches for plants that send out runners.
Gardeners can propagate plants, such as lavender, geraniums, and rosemary, from cuttings obtained using floral snips and secateurs. Floral snips work well for cutting softer stalks, whereas secateurs are better for cutting woodier plants or branches.
How to buy propagators on eBay
Many sellers on eBay offer a variety of propagators, from simple trays to electric models. A basic search for "propagator" using the empty box on any page on the website yields many relevant results, but you can use descriptive terms such as "electric" or "self-watering" to find specific products. There are also propagator kits available that include both trays and pots. Use the filters to narrow your search to find particular supplies.