All about sowing
The most important reason is that you can see your plants grow up from an unsightly small seed to a grown-up flowering juwel. Later on you may be proud whenever you admire your plants of 10-20-30 years or older that you yourself have sowed. Those plants are much more valueable than the bought specimens.
Financially it is of course also very inviting. For some plants they ask a lot of money in the business. Your seed gained plants are nearly free of charge. Plants that you have surplus you may swap with other amateurs and thus once more without incidental expenses enlarge your collection.
For some species sowing is the sole possibility to get them since the plants cannot be obtained in another way. Only specialised suppliers may offer some seed. Out of the seedlings you want for yourself you may choose those that you like the most. Many species have a large variety of thorns and the like. So your choice may be of course very individual. And afterwards you may swap the other seedlings.
Still another motive is doing cultivation experiments. You may thus learn in a cheap way and have lots of experiences. Also the sowing of future graftings is very useful. You may use those later on to graft the more difficult species you have sowed. The surplus seedlings may be given regularly to friends and acquaintances. That is the ideal way to rouse enthusiasm and thus to pass the love for the succulents to others.
Yearly, during the month February, the society publishes a seedlist. Members and non members may order seeds at €0,40 per portion. Depending on the species a portion contains 20 to 50 seeds. The list is made in such a way that both beginners and more experienced amateurs find their needs.
You will find lots of seeds from the other succulents too. The seeds of many hundreds species are collected from the Eduard's collection (our society's chairman) and other amateurs in Belgium but mainly from the major foreign seed surpliers like Mesa Garden and Christa's in America and Kohres in Germany. During the spring show sowing packets are sold for beginners, containing 10 species seed, pots, sowing medium, pebbles, labels and a manual.
You pay for such a packet only the seeds: €3.00. Very advantageous thus and futhermore the packets are compound with easily germinated seeds suitable for beginners.
How do you organise the sowing?
- Fill a 5,5 cm pot with soil and push gently.
- Put the pot in a basin with water so that the soil can suck untill the upper side of the soil is black with moisture.
- Scatter the seeds in the pot (1 portion per pot). You maydo that with a free hand, or more easily, with a in V-shaped folded bit of paper.
- Push the seeds with a flat thing to the soil. However do not cover them with sand.
- Scatter a thin layer of pebbles on top of the soil. Make sure that the soil is just covered. The pebbles prevent the growth of algae.
The ideal germ and growth circumstances
Three factors are important:
- Moisture: place the sowing pots in a closed sphere so that there can develop a tense, humid climate. That works very well in a closed plastic bag for instance.
- Temperature: most of the cactusseeds germinate at a temperature of 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F). Variable temperatures stimulate the germination effectively. Thus it is safe to lower the temperature slowly to 10° to 15°C (50° to 59°F) at night.
- Light: after the seeds are germinated, they need a lot of light, however no straight sunlight because the little plants may burn then. Protect them against the intense sun by e.g. fencing them with thin paper.
As soon as the first spines are visible, you can start ventilating the little plants. Do it gradually so that the plants become accustomed to the dry air. Let them dry-out a little from time to time.
You do plant them out when the little plants are big enough to handle, or when the seedlings push aside each other and have no place anymore to grow. Do not put the seedlings too far from each other; they prosper the best close together and in a pot that is not too large.