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Propagation tips for winter

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Propagation in general can be tricky for some gardeners, especially during the winter. In this article it will explain what propagation is how to do it successfully and how to ensure your propagation goes smoothly during the colder winter months.
What exactly is propagation? Propagation is the technique of creating new plants from either seeds or cuttings; these are also known as sexual propagation for seeds or asexual for cuttings. The difference between growing plants from seed and growing plants from cuttings is genetic variation. Cuttings are simply an identical genetic clone of the parent plant it was taken from. So asexual simply means the cuttings genes only come from one parent plant. Whereas seed propagation is referred to as sexual because the seeds are a cross from two sets of genes (they receive genes from a male and female to form), their seeds will produce a different variety of plant/tree from the parent.
So we now know what propagation is, but what exactly is the best way to propagate, especially as the winter months are drawing ever closer? If you’re thinking you need a greenhouse for propagation, you’d be wrong. These days there are a number of cheap ways of achieving propagation, whether it is by simply covering your cutting and plant pot in cellophane or maybe the bottom or top of a plastic fizzy drinks bottle that can cover the cutting. But this is article is more geared at successful winter propagation, and for this maintaining high humidity around the cutting will be critical. This is done by keeping the seeds or cuttings warm and of course humid.

A heated propagator is a gardening device to help maintain a warm and humid environment for your seeds and cuttings to grow in. This allows your cuttings to survive, as they need to retain moisture inside of them. This is because the leaves lose moisture via evaporation, and because there aren’t any roots formed yet to take up more water to replace the water lost from the leaves. Clonex a well known rooting gel from Growth Technology have now developed a Clonex mist spray which not only moistens but acts as natural root developer too. The best way to keep the cuttings alive is to maintain the moisture in the air, but to also be careful not to keep them too damp, otherwise they will rot and go mouldy. Heated propagators do this by with having a built in heater in the bottom tray of the propagator base tray. Almost all good quality propagators will also have adjustable vents for the airing of your seeds/cuttings as this helps your propagator not get too wet and damp while hardening off cuttings for transplant.

Heat Mat

But if you have already bought a standard propagator, why not consider simply using a heat mat under your propagator? An electric propagation mat is a heated rubber mat covered by a metal cage which is also used in gardening. The steady heat allows gardeners to garden in the winter months when the weather is generally too cold for seedlings to survive naturally, especially in the UK. When combined with a propagation lighting system, many plants can be grown indoors using these mats during the propagation months and can even be utilised under pots and plants which may be suffering a little more than others.
Another great tool to have is the heated mat thermostat. This device will monitor the temperature of your soil or plugs and regulate their temperature to your desired temperature. This is ideal if temperatures in your room your clones or seeds are kept is constantly changing, as the thermostat will put this right for you.

Thermostat in operation

So if you want more success with your propagation, especially during the British cold winter months, remember seeds and cutting need love and attention too, besides the warmth and moisture required. Whether a heat mat or a heated propagator; warmth is very important and can be supplied direct if you have limited space or heating in your home via these devices.