Plant Propagation Techniques

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Plant Propagation Techniques

Plant reproduction occurs either sexually or asexually, and the methods that can be applied to obtain a new generation of plants are referred to as plant propagation techniques. Propagation through seed is the sexual form of reproduction, whereas asexual propagation includes methods like cutting or dividing. Each of the methods for propagating plants has advantages and disadvantages. Planting seeds is often the easiest, most economical method and also the only way to get genetic variation in the plants, because asexual propagation results in plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant.  However, asexual propagation techniques are ideal if the same plant is desired. In some cases, though, it is necessary to resort to asexual propagation in order to multiply plants or there are benefits of not propagating by planting seeds. For example, it is not a good idea to plant seeds of plants in the outdoors if the species is considered invasive in that region and could cause problems with native plant species, or when a plant is not native to the region and will not grow under the environment conditions present.

Seeds -- Planting seeds is probably the most commonly used form of plant propagation. Although it is easy to purchase packaged seeds from different retailers, people who want seeds from particular plants can also collect their own from the desired specimen.  Gathering the seeds is easy to do and they can also be stored in airtight containers. If stored in the right place, seeds can remain viable for several years and this can save a lot of money in the long run. When it comes to propagating by seed, there are several factors that have to be taken into consideration and which greatly affect the germination rates. Small seeds need fine soil, whereas larger seeds can grow fine in coarse soils. Seeds should be kept moist, but not too wet and enough sunlight should be available so that the dormant seed will germinate.

 

Cuttings and Dividing -- Another fairly common and simple way to produce more plants is through cuttings.  A cutting is a shoot or piece of a plant that is cut off right below a node or leaf. Once cut, any excess material like leaves is removed and then planted in a pot with soil that is then closed inside of a transparent bag. The goal is to have the cutting taken form roots so that it can grow into a separate plant. It is important to keep the cuttings moist and in a location that is not too hot. If the cuttings dry out, they will die as a result. However, over-watering will provide ideal conditions for the growth of fungi or the cuttings will rot and die. Light is another factor that will determine the success rate of cuttings. Some sunlight is necessary for the cuttings, but they should be shielded from direct sunlight. Similar to cutting is a method known as dividing. The result in both cases is a plant identical to the one providing the material, but dividing is applied when plants are fading. In this case, the plant is taken out of the soil with its roots intact and then it is divided into several pieces. The pieces are then cleaned and re-planted in new soil. Rooting of the cuttings or divided roots can be facilitated by using what is known as a propagator or rooting hormone. These chemical mixes can be costly, but they do help promote rooting and that will greatly increase the chances of the cutting turning into a thriving plant.  Another way to reduce the failure rate of cuttings is to avoid using pieces that are too hard or woody whenever possible.  Although cuttings can be kept indoors all year long, when the weather is cold the roots will form more slowly than during warmer months.

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