Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Growing from seeds: why do I keep trying?

I have mentioned before that one thing I have never been good at is growing plants from seed. Succulents should be easy, simply scatter the seeds onto compost, cover lightly and then place in a plastic bag in a warm place. Depending on the variety you will get seedlings appearing after as little as a week.  Leave for another week, remove from the bag and place in a propagator so you can reduce the damp over a few days.  Water carefully until they are on their 2nd or 3rd leaf and split into pots.

Simple, or so it should be.  I can get to the seedling stage without problems and then it all goes wrong. I always seem to end up with 5 or 6 that survive, no matter how many I plant. A sensible person would have stopped by now but for some reason every year I continue to torment myself with a few sets of seeds.  This year it was aloe polyphylla (I'll cover that in a different post), echeveria agavoides 'ebony' and a hybrid echeveria subrigida x peacockii.

Echeveria agavoides 'ebony' was a bit of an experiment.  I have shown this picture before of a plant at a national show, it shows the darker tips to the leave this form is named for.  I am interested to see if the seeds will come true and the plants will have the dark tips, or if they will have the usual red tips.

You wont be surprised to know that out of the 100 seeds I have 5 left.  They are still small but some are already starting to show the very dark tips (you need to look very closely to notice).  Time will tell if they will stay like this.

The second set sounded like it could produce something interesting. Echeveria subrigida is one of the best echeverias and if kept pristine is a beautiful specimen plant.  Echeveria peacockii is one of the pale blue / white varieties.  Again 5 or 6 seedlings have reached the stage when I stop worrying about them, and at least one is looking very pale.

For me it is partly the search for that unusual plant I hope for; the almost white, or dark tips, or even better variegated plant. It seems there will always be an excuse to torment myself. Who knows one day I may actually crack the seedling stage.


  1. Very interesting post, dont ever give up!

  2. They are such gorgeous seedlings I can see why you'd want to persist - do they damp off or just turn up their toes for no apparent reason?

  3. Becc: Don't worry i wont.

    Oxslip: It is mainly damping off. One of the reasons I grow succulents is that they are very forgiving, no water for months fine, over water once fine, etc. I am not very good are watering and so when care is needed, like seedlings, they tend to suffer either being over watered or left to dry out.

  4. Any update on whether the 'Ebony' seedlings came through? And if so, are they true to the parent? I've collected some seed from my agavoides and was interested in trying.

    1. Aaron, They are all still going I am pleased to say. It is too early to say if they will be true ebony, but they are looking good so far. Will try to do an update at some point soon.