Firstly get the soil right. You need a loosely structured medium that is porous and well ventilated and low in nutrients. Ideally John Innes seed and cutting compost or a mixture of peat (or coir) and grit (or Perlite).

A propagator is required and these can be as elaborate as you wish, Stewarts do an excellent electric propagator but you can make do with a pot and a white polythene bag. Your seed trays shouldn’t be too deep but must have plenty of drainage. Suitable pots are Jiffy Peat pots, cardboard egg boxes or old yoghurt pots (providing they have drainage holes put in the bottom of them.

The tools you will need are a well-sharpened knife, scalpel or razor blade for taking cuttings, a dibber and plant labels. Glass or perspex pot covers or plastic bags, white. A spray or watering can with a fine rose. It is essential all of the above is meticulous cleaned.

Now you have got the right kit the next important item is where to place your cuttings. Young plants need warmth, moisture and light, 18-20C is ideal ie. Room temperature. Greenhouses and cold-frames are ideal for woody cuttings but you will need a heated propagator for early seed raising and early soft cuttings. Window-sills are great but do remember deep window-sills can be much colder than the rest of the room during the night.

Main pests and diseases of propagation.

  • Grey mould: If seen move the plant into brighter drier conditions and treat with fungicide such as Copper or yellow sulphur.
  • Viral Infections: If seen remove material and destroy – sorry no cure.
  • Aphids: Aphids breed very fast in the propagation environment so treat with insecticides (Provado Ultimake Bug Killer, Bug Clear Ultra) or biological control at first signs.
  • Slugs & Snails: These little blighters love the warm damp conditions of a propagator and one of the best controls is to lure them away with a meal of fresh potato peelings overnight then in the morning scatter them outside as a breakfast treat for the birds. Of course safe use of slug pellets such as Slug Clear or Growing Success Pellets will always reap benefits, assuming you scatter them loosely (according to packet instructions) and NOT in piles. Slug Clear Liquid applied to leaves and soil is highly effective, however use is not permitted on edibles.
  • White fly: Use sticky yellow traps to control.
  • Red Spider mite: Use biological control or Provado Ultimate Bug Killer.

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