Propagating Success - how to propagate seeds and cuttings.


Whether you are chasing the perfect example of a particular plant and starting lots of seeds or taking cuttings (clones), The propagation stage is arguably one of the most important parts in your grow cycle. For the best Harvest you have to have perfect propagation, the saying goes – ‘from tiny acorns grow mighty oaks’ and your crop is no different we all want big healthy plants that yield well and achieve their full potential........ read on to get the best from your propagation stage and lay the foundations for a bumper harvest.

Cuttings vs Seeds

Seeds provide the grower with fresh genetic stock and a whole world of choice of plants and favours these seedlings grow with vigour and allow the finding of fresh new types of stock plants to keep the consumer happy. However they often grow at different rates, yield differently and vary in quality. Knowing what traits you want is important when selecting seed stock. Researching plant type to get the traits that you desire is a good starting point. Seeds are also readily available and are the easiest way to get hold of the genetics you require and should be pest and disease free since they are fresh seedlings.


Cuttings on the other hand (providing they are all from the same donor (mother) plant should all look the same, have the same rate of growth, be a uniform size and structure and have the same harvest date making this the best way to get a uniform crop and a bumper yield. You either have to start your own seeds and find the best example to use as a mother plant or you can buy certain stock plants in saving you a lot of time and effort. However bringing stock plants into your grow room has other possible risks, such as bringing pests or disease in with them  - you have been warned!

Now lets take a look at each method individually and get the basics right for successful propagation.



Equipment needed:

  • Propagator – if in a cool place a heated version will be very useful.
  • Low intensity light - fluorescent tubes, T5s, CFL
  • Growing media, rockwool cubes, jiffy peat plugs, root riots

Media choice is important, if using rockwool cubes you will need to pre soak in a low strength nutrient ideal for seedling such as Plant Start and ideally a root stim or Biosys, Jiffy peat plugs being made of peat have a nutrient value already and can be soaked in just water or water and a root stim or ideally using Ecothrive Biosys, Root riot cubes are pre soaked with a nutrient for easy no mess propagation but can also be improved further by adding some Biosys.


Starting from seed as mentioned provides vigorous fast growing plants and ensures you have not brought any unwanted guests or disease into your room. There are several methods of germinating seeds let’s take a look at a couple of them now.

Germination in paper towels:

Seeds can be placed in between wet paper towels or kitchen roll and left in a warm dark place until they split and a root emerges, they can then be planted into the media of your choice then be placed in a propagator with a low intensity light such as a lightwave T5 unit placed over them.

Germinating in water:

Alternatively some growers prefer to soak the seeds in a glass of water for 12-24 hours to soften them and plant straight into the media before the seeds split or any root emerges, ensuring no damage is done to the emerging tap root which is possible with the paper towel method.



Germinating in the media:

This is the oldest method of germination and arguably the most natural, simply planting the seed a cm or so down into the chosen media and letting nature take its course. This method is normally successful but certain seeds have hard outer shells and the softening in water or splitting in paper towels ensure you get good germination of often expensive seeds.


So your seeds are germinated and in the propagator, what now?

The propagator plays a vital role in this process keeping the humidity high around the delicate young seedling and keeping them warm. A heated propagator is best or a heat mat to ensure the perfect rootzone temperature is achieved. A low intensity light above the propagator provides a light source and further helps to keep the seedling warm. As the seedling emerges the first leaves (cotyledon or seeds leaves) emerge and the seedlings will stretch up towards the light source a week or so after emerging the first true leaves will appear and your plants will start to grow well, when they have a couple of sets of true leaves and are getting up towards the top of the propagator it’s time to ‘harden-off’ your seedlings and get them ready for the big bright world outside your propagator, hardening off is the process of gently acclimatising your seedlings to the drier environment outside your prop. Start by half opening the vents on the prop for a couple of days, then fully open them for a little longer, then set the prop lid slightly ajar for a few more days this gently gets them used to the outside world before completely removing the propagator. Its important that the environment they go into is nice and humid 65-70% not too hot and not too much intense light to begin with. They are the future! -treat them gently.


Taking cuttings

As mentioned already cuttings provide you the best opportunity to get a good uniform crop, ensuring a level canopy that gets even intense light producing uniform quality fruits and flowers. To take cuttings you need a donor plant, the same equipment needed for seedlings and a couple of extra bits:

  • Propagator – if in a cool place a heated version will be very useful.
  • Low intensity light - fluorescent tubes, T5s, CFL
  • Growing media, rockwool cubes, jiffy peat plugs, root riots
  • Rooting hormone such as Clonex
  • Scalpel or fresh sterilised stanley blade.

First you need to prepare the cutting blocks/media being used as mentioned in the seedling stage and is much the same for cuttings and seeds. 



Top tip - Pre soaking the blocks and allowing them to warm up in a warm place or heated propagator before taking your cuttings helps a lot to avoid shock when transplanting. Our heated propagators take the guess work out of getting your propagation temperatures correct.

Take the cuttings using a sharp sterile blade at a 45 degree angle before dipping in a rooting hormone such as Clonex then place directly into the prepared media  or take several placing them in a glass of water before dipping in the rooting hormone and then transferring into the media when you have the required amount ready.

Then as with seeds keep them in a warm propagator with a low intensity light above them, Spray the inside of the lid with water to keep the humidity high daily and open the propagator every day and replace the lid to refresh the air inside.


Follow these simple steps and you too can achieve perfect propagation. For more help or info ask in store and we would be more than happy to do a demonstration to get you started.


Other useful and relevant info sheets available include ‘look after your mum’ -the step by step guide to selecting and caring for your mother plant.