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Germination Tips Small Seeds

GERMINATING TINY SEEDS (Mesembs, Crassula, Echeveria, and other small succulents seeds)  

Tiny seeds, almost as fine as dust, such as lithops, other succulents and some cacti can be difficult to handle. Sometimes, in fact, the packet seems to contain nothing except a trace of dust-sized particles.

1. Use a small pan or pot for sowing, about 4 or 5 inches is adequate.
2. Fill the pan or pot to overflowing with the seed compost, then firm it first with    your fingers, then with a wooden presser.
3. Pour a heaped teaspoon of fine sand into the seed packet and shake to mix sand and seed.
4. Sow the seed direct from the packet, tapping it slowly to release the sand-seed mixture evenly over the compost.
5. Do not cover the seed with compost, simply press them into the surface with the wooden presser.
6. Water the compost from underneath by standing the tray or pot in a bowl of tepid water.
7. Cover with a piece of glass, cling film or seal inside a polythene bag to keep the compost moist and the atmosphere slightly humid.
8. Remember that very fine seeds have a lower germination rate than normal-sized ones and the correct temperature for germination is very important.

Sowing: Sow indoors at any time of year.
Fill small pots or trays with a light and well-aerated compost. Stand the pots in water, allow to soak thoroughly and drain. Scatter the seed onto the top of the compost. Do not cover seeds, they require light for germination, avoid direct sunlight by shading the seeds after sowing.

If possible, germinate in a propagator otherwise, secure a polythene bag around the pot or cover the container with glass or and place in a warm shaded place. Care should be taken to prevent the pots drying out from below. The majority of seeds germinate best at a temperatures of 20 to 22°C (68 to 72°F). Germination will usually take 10 to 180 days, patience is required, don't throw away the tray too soon.Once germination has taken place, remove the glass or plastic and move into a brighter 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.

Cultivation:
Growth is slow, 6 to 8 weeks after sowing transplant to single small pots 7cm (3in) Grow on at 18 to 25°C (64 to 77°F) during daytime and 15 to 18°C (59 to 65°F) during night. Cooler temperatures in the night are better for the foliage pigmentation. Temperatures below 15°C (59°F) will result in leaf deformation. Echeveria does not tolerate frost. After 12 to 14 months transplant into a bigger pot.

Some succulent seeds should be covered well, they do not need light for germination. The sowing of Anacampseros, Conophytum, Echeveria, Crassulacea, Lithops and Mesembryanthemum should not have a temperature above 20 °C until germination and should not be covered. Dinteranthus requires up to 3 months to germinate.

During the growth period Echeveria needs a relative high amount of water and in winter Echeveria needs a dry substrate. Avoid over head irrigation, because wet leaf rosettes rot rapidly. Moderate fertilisation levels are required during the spring and summer, but don't fertilise after mid September.

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