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Sow indoors at any time of year.
Fill small pots or trays with a light and well-aerated compost. (John Innes Seed Compost, with the addition of ½ gritty sand is an old favourite) Do not firm the mixture down. Stand the pots in water, moisten thoroughly and drain. It is a good plan to stand the containers on a tray of damp sand, so that they do not dry out.
Scatter the seed onto the top of the compost or, if the seed is larger, sow individually and press lightly into the compost. Do not cover small seeds with compost. Secure a polythene bag around the pot or cover the container with glass or and place in a warm shaded place. If possible, germinate in a propagator. Care should be taken to prevent the pots drying out from below. Many people make use of a warm place such as the airing cupboard, or near the kitchen boiler.
The majority of seeds germinate best at a temperatures of 22-24°C (70 and 75°F). Some seedlings may appear within a week or 10 days others will take longer. At lower temperatures, germination usually takes considerably longer.
Once germination has taken place, remove the glass or plastic and move into a good light. Be careful to keep the top of the compost damp. As soon as the first seeds have germinated, remove the plastic or raise the lid slightly to permit some circulation of air.
From now on, the tiny seedlings need to be in a good light, but must be protected from direct sun. Shading from all but winter sun is desirable for the first 12 months. If the young plants are exposed to too much sun, or the compost dries out, they may stop growing and often turn red; once they stop, it is often difficult to persuade them to start growing again.
After germination and at intervals of about 10 days, it is as well to spray with a fungicide. It is as well to continue this treatment for 8-10 weeks, or until the seedlings look like miniature cacti. Never let the pots dry out-but don't saturate them either. A sodden compost is as harmful as a dry one.
Some growers keep their seedlings in the sowing compost for 12 months, others prick out when the seedlings are 3 months old. Any good compost will do at this stage, provided it is well drained and well aerated.
Keep at a minimum of 16°C (60°F) during their first winter and water carefully. Try to ensure that the compost is nearly dry by nightfall. The most dangerous months for your seedlings are likely to be February, March and early April, when the nights are cold and the day temperatures under glass rather high. As the days lengthen, the seedlings really respond to watering and start to grow visibly, and it is then that a sharp drop in temperature can be fatal if the compost is too wet.
all year round
Needs Light to germinate! Just sprinkle on the surface of the substrate + gently press
Coir or sowing mix + sand or perlite
bright + keep constantly moist not wet
1 - 8 weeks
Water regularly during the growing season
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