Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Cycads From Seed



Growing Cycads from Seed

Much has been written about growing cycads from seed and one can find a lot of varying advice on the Internet concerning this subject.  The following is the result of reading much of that information, followed by trial and error (lots of error it must be said) in order to give you the best advice I can.

1.       First priority, the seed must be fresh – I only sell fresh seed, I know it to be fresh because I have either collected it myself or it has been collected for me.
2.       When you receive the seed, clean it of all flesh (if any has been left on), as leaving this on will delay germination and may lead to rot.
3.       Having cleaned the seed, soak it in tepid water for 2 – 5 days, the larger/dryer the seed, the longer the soaking period.  Change the water daily or more if it is discoloured.
4.       At the last change of water add a copper based fungicide at the recommended strength for seedlings or use Chinosol. (I have used both with equally good results).  Good results are also reported for diluted Neem oil.  It may well be that the seeds will germinate whilst soaking – in this case skip straight to point 7.
5.       For the sowing medium I use Vermiculite.  This should be dampened and I mean dampened (approx 30 – 50 ml (boiling) of water per litre of vermiculite).  Place the seed and (cooled off) vermiculite in a Ziplock bag, seal and place somewhere warm and dark, I use the airing cupboard (my wife complains bitterly – so I usually hide the bag somewhere out of reach).
6.       Leave it all alone for a week, then regularly check (every few days) for signs of germination.  The root will come first and may precede the leaf by many weeks.
7.       As the seeds germinate, remove them to a gritty, moist peat mix compost in a standard pot.  Place one per pot as they have fragile roots and all subsequent potting on/up should be done with as little root disturbance as possible.  Leave the seed on, it will rot when the plant has ‘done’ with it.
8.       The plants will make slow but steady progress and the number of leaves produced per season will depend on the species and should be stated in the listing.  Bigger seeds will of course produce bigger initial leaves and may well be usable in a year or so as a houseplant.  If planting out, then this should occur when all traces of the seed have gone (perhaps 2 years in small species, longer in the larger species such as Cycas or Dioon)
Best of luck, remember though at all stages hygiene is the key, once a mould gets hold of your seeds you may as well start over – again I’ve been there.

Bonsai Growing Using Tree Members of the Acacia Family



In the wild, Acacia’s form all sorts of shapes, but the classic on is the flat or dome topped shape so often seen in photographs.  This variety of shapes is caused by the action of grazing animals and it is this response that the grower hopes to harness when growing bonsai forms of these trees. 

Germinate the seeds as stated in the separate instructions, but try to sow one seed per small pot – the reason for this is that they do not like much root disturbance, so this will be the pot you start off with in your attempts at training.  Allow the tree to grow to around 1.5 times the height you want your bonsai to be.  So if you want a 1 metre tall tree, let the seedling reach at least 1.5 metres before pruning starts.  If it outgrows the small pot, then move it up one size with care not to disturb the roots too much. 

The first cut should be to remove the growing point of the leading shoot to the actual height you want (so in the above case, take off ½ metre to leave a 1 metre tree).  Then you can carry on by shortening side shoots to form a branch structure and a crown.  Take it slow and easy here, try to allow the tree to recover from each cut. 

It is long term results you seek not a short term instant fix.  Shoots forming below the crown can be removed immediately, indeed if you see the small green buds on the main stem in the wrong place, it is better to remove them by ‘rubbing them out’ while still green and soft, rather than to wait till they are branches and cutting them off – this provides a better finish.  Because they are fast growing, you can achieve excellent results in around 4 – 5 years. 

The minimum height for these to thrive is around 30 – 45 cm and the maximum can be whatever you want.  If you want to grow a bonsai forest then you have two options.  You can either grow your seeds in a shallow tray, in which they will stay as the ‘forest’ grows until such time as you put it into its final display pot/slab or you can grow the trees individually and then mount them together when they are ready.  The 1st  method looks more natural, the 2nd method gives you greater pruning control.  Each has its merits so you can decide which is best for what you want to achieve.

Growing Eucalyptus From Seed



Growing Eucalyptus from Seed
There are two types of Eucalyptus to be considered when growing from seed, those that require stratification and those that do not.  The species that require a period of stratification should be put with some damp substrate (peat, vermiculite or sand) in a polythene bag and placed in the fridge for the designated period (see overleaf).
Sowing is a fairly simple matter, the seeds require a light, porous growing mix, that will not compact and get waterlogged.  To this end, I recommend a peat based mixed, to which extra vermiculite or perlite has been added.  Sow the seeds on the surface and cover lightly with sand (or fine vermiculite).  Although they can be covered with more sowing mix, this is not recommended as it encourages damping-off (something Eucalypts are prone to).  Place the pot inside a polythene bag (I use the Ziploc type) and put somewhere where a temperature of 20 – 30 Deg C can be maintained. For those species listed overleaf, a lower germination temperature of 15 – 20 Deg C is required.
Germination begins quite rapidly in ideal conditions and the subsequent seedlings grow on very quickly.  As soon as they germinate the seedlings should be placed in a very bright growing position, the brighter the better.  Once they reach the 2nd leaf stage (cotyledons, 1st pair, 2nd pair just showing), pot them up singly.  Eucalypts resent root disturbance, so be very careful not to break the fragile roots at this point.
Growing on try to pot on only when necessary and try to take the entire root ball into the next pot.   If planting out, most species need 12 – 18 weeks of growth before they will be ready to go out.  Larger specimens transplant less readily, so these timing should be borne in mind when sowing the seed, unless you have some form of shelter for your seedlings, such as a frame or an unheated greenhouse.


Eucalypt Species
 
E. alpina
E. aggregata
E. apiculata
E. approximans
E. coccifera
E. crenulata
E. cypellocarpa
E. dalrympleana
E. delegatensis
E. denticulata
E. fastigiata
E. fraxinoides
E. glaucescens
E. globulus
E. gregsoniana
E. johnstonii
E. kybeanensis
E. lacrimans
E. laevopinea
E. lingustrina
E. macarthurii
E. melliodora
E. mitchelliana
E. moorei
E. nitens
E. nitida
E. obliqua
E. olsenii
E. ovata
E. paliformis
E. pauciflora and subspecies
E. perriniana
E. pulverulenta
E. radiata
E. regnans
E. rodwayi
E. rubida
E. rupicola
E. saxitilis
E. spectatrix
E. stellulata
E. stentosoma
E. strzeleckii
E. subcrenulata
E. tenuiramis
E. vernicosa
E. willisii
E. yarraensis
E. youmanii


Stratification?
Period if known
6 weeks
4 weeks (not crucial)
recommended
recommended
6 weeks
4 weeks
recommended
4 weeks (not crucial)
8 weeks, or all winter
recommended
recommended
3 weeks
6 weeks
3 weeks (not crucial)
4 weeks
4 weeks
4 weeks
6 weeks?
recommended
recommended
4 weeks (not crucial)
3 weeks (not crucial)
5 weeks
recommended (5 weeks)
4 weeks
6 weeks
4 weeks
4 weeks
6 weeks?
4 weeks (not crucial)
6 weeks
4 weeks
4 weeks (not crucial)
possibly recommended
4 weeks
4 weeks (not crucial)
4 weeks (not crucial)
recommended
recommended (6 weeks)
recommended
5 weeks
recommended
recommended
4 weeks
4 weeks?
6 weeks
recommended
possibly recommended
recommended

Trumpet Creepers From Seed



Growing Jacaranda and Relatives from Seed

These instructions cover all members of the Trumpet Creeper family, a diverse family of plants with showy flowers, flat seeds and hard seed pods.

Sow the seeds on the top of a good quality compost and water (spraying is best) with a dilute fungicide solution (Chinosol or a copper based compound).  Flat seeds should be sown on the flat side down and the larger seeds just pressed in to the compost.  Seal in a plastic bag and place somewhere warm and light (20 – 30 Deg C).

Germination given ideal conditions as listed above should take 5 – 21 days, perhaps a little longer.

Once the first true leaves appear (these are feathery – rather like Mimosa) they can be potted on and grown in cooler, airier conditions.

After about a year the plants should be about 30 – 40 cm tall, after this growth may slow down.

Once mature, the plants are deciduous in cooler conditions.  The flowers are produced in spring before the leaves (or if evergreen before any new leaves appear) and are followed by hard seed pods.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Palms from Seed.


Much has been written about growing palm trees from seed and one can find a lot ofvarying advice on the Internet concerning this subject. The following is the result of reading much of that information, followed by trial and error (lots of error it must be said) in order to give you the best advice I can.  It should be noted that growing palms from seed is very easy, but easy does not always  equate to quickly.  This is an important distinction.  Once treated and sown, the need little more than your patience.

1. First priority, the seed must be fresh – I only sell fresh seed, I know it to be fresh because I have either collected it myself or it has been collected for me. A note here is needed on the definition of fresh.  Fresh may mean straight out of the fruit and dealing with in few weeks - such seeds are few and far between in commerce because of short shelf lives.  The seeds we deal with have a minimum shelf life (fresh) of 39 weeks and a maximum (in some cases) of a few years (normally larger, harder seeds).

2. When you receive the seed, clean it of all flesh, as leaving this on will delay germination and may lead to rot.  Of course some will not have any flesh on them and these can be taken straight to stage 3.

3. Having cleaned the seed, soak it in tepid water for 2 – 5 days, the larger/dryer the seed, the longer the soaking period. Change the water daily or more if it is discoloured.

4. At the last change of water add a copper based fungicide at the recommended strength for seedlings or use Chinosol. (I have used both with equally good results). Good results are also reported for diluted Neem oil.  Many of the decent fungicides have now been withdrawn due to health concerns with the amateur grower.  You can always soak in dilute bleach for the final few minutes, provides you rinse all traces off at the end.

5. For the sowing medium I use Vermiculite. This should be dampened and I mean dampened (approx 30 – 50 ml (boiling) of water per litre of vermiculite). Place the seed and (cooled off) vermiculite in a Ziplock bag, seal and place somewhere warm and dark, I use the airing cupboard (my wife complains bitterly – so I usually hide the bag somewhere out of reach).

6. Leave it all alone for at least week, then regularly check (every week) for signs of germination.  Don't open the bag unless you see positive signs of germination, either a root or a shoot from a seed.  Patience is the key, some seeds will germinate in a week or so, most take 12 weeks or more and some can take over a year or more.  The point here is not to write things off, eventually they will germinate and they are in the best conditions for them to do so. Bigger seeds usually take far longer to germinate than smaller seeds.  Bismarckia, for example, may take 18 months for the root to appear. The importance of being patient cannot be overstated.

7. As the seeds germinate, remove them to a gritty, moist peat mix compost in a standard pot. Here I put 10 up to seedlings in a 9cm square pot. Give a light spray and seal in a polythene bag and place somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight. The bag keeps in the moisture without the need for extremes of watering, both of which are fatal for palms – trust me I’ve done it.

8. The plants can stay in the bag for months, just keep a check to ensure that the compost doesn’t dry out, the leaves don’t start to overfill the bag or the roots come out of the pot.

9. Once the plants are growing well and this could be 6 – 12 months, pot them individually into a suitable pot size.

Best of luck, remember though at all stages hygiene is the key, once a mould gets hold of your seeds you may as well start over – again I’ve been there.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Germinating Ginkgo biloba Seeds

Pre-treatment


Soak the seeds for 24 - 48 hours, soaking time may be reduced if you nick the seed coat along the seam  (but not too deeply).

Stratification

These seeds are long lived but are deeply dormant.  They need a period of warm followed by cool, followed by warm.

Place the soaked seeds in spaghnum moss, or dampened vermiculite, or dampened perlite, or a damp peat/sand mix.  We prefer vermiculite - damp really means damp as, if the soil is too wet they may succumb to mold.

Period 1 - 1 month warm - above 15 C, so anywhere in a centrally heated house.
Period 2 - 2 months cold - in the fridge at 4 - 6 Deg C

Sowing

After stratification is complete, sow the seeds around 2.5 cm deep in a mix of seed raising compost and sharp sand (this should never be builders sand or beach sand as the salinity will kill the seeds).  This mix should be in a 10 cm pot for one seed, larger pots may take more seeds - we recommend 1 seed per pot for when it comes to moving on.

Water the pots, then seal in a plastic bag.  Place the bagged pots outside to germinate, where they can then be left till leaves show.  This can take some time, especially where the stratification process was not effective.  This is just nature taking its course.  Seeds have been known to come up in subsequent years, especially if planted in the open ground.

Potting on

Once the roots show out of the bottom of the pot, move the plant up 2 sizes (so for a 10 cm pot, move to a 13 cm  pot).  Eventually they will reach a size for planting out, which may take a couple of years.  If you are using the seedlings for bonsai, then the height should be 1/3rd more than you want your bonsai to be, to allow for pruning.

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 News

Happy New Year 2018

Highwire Store

From February 2018, our online store (Highwire) will cease to exist as our commerce partner will no longer support the platform.  This will leave our only outlet (for now) as eBay. As this was the location we stored our instructions, we are in the process of moving them all to this location.

Online Instructions

With the demise of our online store, where we used to keep the electronic versions of our instructions, we are now listing them all here.  Once I work out how to permamently link them to pages, that will be our preferred method, until then they will be added as posts to this blog.  Not ideal but they will remain available and the Google platform seemed to be the best way to cope with this issue.  Over the next month all the instructions previously stored on Highwire, will be moved here.  Hopefully with the greater bandwidth and flexibility provided here, we will be able to include pictures and some step by step diagrams of the processes involved.

Searching

I am trying to 'Tag' the instruction posts with the Genus and popular common names that they are known by.  As an example I have added the tags Ensete, Musa and Musella, as well as Banana to the Banana instruction page. If you cannot find the page you require, please contact me or leave a comment on this page so that I can either point you to the right post or upload the instructions you require.

Ebay Sales

Our eBay sales will continue and we are pleased to continue our discount offers for volume purchases of our seeds.