Propagating Echeverias from Seeds
Hi all Echeverias Loving Folks, I thought it will be fun to post a pictorial log of mine to keep track of my seeds germinating journey.
This will be a good place for an open discussion to share our experiences and practices in sowing succulent seeds in general - not only specifically to the Echeveria species, since there were much discussions garnered on my Echeveria Lauii's post on the most ideal or optimal conditions for the highest success rates.
Based on my personal research prior to starting the seeds, I find that resources and information on germinating echeveria seeds are extremely limited. I've searched through the forum (obviously), library books, journals and consulted other members experiences, but mostly returned with sporadic conclusions, with varying results effects.
My guess on why this species is more difficult to cultivate from seeds and challenging for most growers from seeds in particular are due to:
1) Prescribing the optimal condition for sprout and growths
The biggest problems for which most amateur growers like me can face is killing the seedlings before it reaching maturity, or seeds would not sprout due to poorly prescribed conditions, ie lighting, soil, temperature and humidity.
Keeping in mind with the sheer varieties of echeverias hybrids and names available, each types requires very specified conditions for the seedlings in order to promote healthy growth.
2) Minute nature in scale of echeveria seeds
When you think in terms of the science of seeds propagation, the smaller the seeds the higher of quantity you need to produce in order to achieve a higher success rate. In this post, a fellow grower had explained he had a 0- 4% success rates out of a hundred for echeveria seeds, in particular the Lauii species.
3) Shelf Live of the seeds
As most experienced echeveria growers have learnt is that Echeveria only have the highest success when seeds sown fresh, which also means, the longer you wait to start the seeds, the lower sprout rate you get from your seeds. This pose an added obstacle, as Echeveria seeds are a rarity in stores or the chances of you purchasing expired seeds are high.
Compounded by the rare occurrence of breeds such as Lauii to flower and produce seeds, growing from basic seeds doesn't sound so basic anymore.
Nonetheless, I did my research and I'm starting my experiment to test 2 pots to test which method will be best to sprout the seeds by adjusting the light conditions:
1) Placed indirectly under a grow light - with about 10-13 hours a day of constant light.
2) Placed it under a table in living room with further screened sunlight from a shaded tree.
Tracy and Howard both experienced higher success rate with seeds under a controlled lighting source.
Which Ryan from this post, had a better result by stressing the seeds with a lower light range - under the table sprouts.
The following elements remain constant:
1) I bought my seeds from a ESTY seller from Australia, shelf life of the seeds are unknown. I might email the seller asking for specifics.
I started with about 20+ seeds, as you can see how small they are in a mini 1x1 inch satchel.
2) I started with 2 regular terra cotta pots, both washed with dish soap and rinsed thoroughly to prevent un-welcomed bacteria or fungus growth.
3) The mix I've used is a seed starter mix from repotme, using equal parts of coir, vermiculture and perlite.
I filled both pots until I have about 2 more inches to the top.
I then sift the soil into finer pieces 1/16 for the next 1 inch layer as a top soil - as how this journal had done by removing lumps or hard materials - also incorporating Ryan's method leaving the last 1 inch of the pot as an light overcast to force the seeds to sprout better.
This is the excerpt from the journal to better help you picture my methods to his logic:
Germinating Unusual or Unidentified Seeds
Propagating seeds in general
When a propagator is asked to germinate unidentified seed or seeds with unknown requirements, he does the best he can, having to guess at the best methods to use. Recently the writer was asked to germinateseeds of what may be Echeveria bicolor from Venezuela. The collector found the plants growing near orchids, mosses, and ferns at an elevation of about 5,000 feet on Mount Avila, five miles from Caracas in a rain forest area. With this bit of information and with over 25 years of experience in germinating Echeveria seeds, I made a good potting soil in a clay pot, and the top inch or so was screened to remove any lumps or hard materials. The planting medium was firmed and made level, then covered with a paper towel. Boiling water was poured over the surface and allowed to run through the drainage hole. The paper towel was used to keep the surface level and smooth. As soon as the soil had cooled, the seed was planted and barely covered with No. 4 sand, then the planted seed was drenched with a mist spray of water. The pot was covered with glass and kept warm at about 65 to 70’ F. Daily application of a mist spray of water was given.
Thus, the growing conditions were similar to those existing on the tropical mountain. The small seedlings began to show on the eighth day and many more appeared on the ninth day. Evidently this home method worked very well for germinating the very small seeds.
4) Placed paper towel on the top of the soil, and flushed it down with boiling water to level the top soil, moisten the mix as well as sterilize the soil from bacteria or other pests.
5) Additional step, I wait for the mix to relatively drain as much as it could, then microwaved both pots for an additional 3 minutes to kill whatever that might have survived the previous precaution. - read importance of sterilizing your soil for seeds
6) Remove the paper towels
7) Moment of truth, sowing the seeds - I used a dried paint brush to gently tickle the seeds from the packets into the brush and gently flick the brush on top of the mix.
8) Lastly, I sealed the pot with a layer of cling wrap to ensure more humidity and placed the entire pot into a zip loc bag.
9) Now all I can do it wait, and I will open up the bag to re-mist every 2 days to ensure the mix and seeds are moist.
I'm not worried temperature wise, as my room thermostat hovers around 75-80. And I'm also not using a seedling pad which Howard recommends, but I guess I will take this one step at a time and see how it goes.
I'll also be back posting weekly updates, to show my progress. I know this my chances are pretty slim and it might turn up to not propagate at all, but that's the fun part about learning and trial and error.
All thoughts and comments, especially shared experiences are welcomed!