Agave Propagation From Seed.
Agave seeds are black in colour and flat. They vary in size depending on the size of the parent plant. The percentage germination will be better and faster if the seeds are fresh. I have found that some seed sources are more reliable than others and it's not uncommon to get zero germination from small packet of 5 seeds.
I have tried various methods to ensure good germination from sowing onto compost to the 'baggie' method. Some people argue that a dense sowing creates a micro climate that give the seedlings more protection but there comes a time when you have to untangle the roots of 20 or more seedlings crammed into a 4 inch pot. I find that the resulting root damage sets them back considerably.
Here in the UK, the longer the growing season the better it is for the seedlings in their first year. To gain an early advantage and extend the growing season it is necessary to start sowing in February when greenhouse temperatures are still hovering around 5 deg. C for most of the time so some form of artificial heat is needed. Once germinated heat can be reduced a little.
My preferred method is to germinate the seeds in a 100% humidity environment at 20-25 deg. C. To achieve this , I needed some way to ensure constant temperature and humidity. Seeds are germinated on damp kitchen towel enclosed in small plastic receptacles placed on a heating plate.
Agave germinated in containers.
The heating plate has two temperature sensors, one in thermal contact with the plate and one to measure ambient temperature. A micro controller monitors the temperature and controls power to the heating element that is thermally bonded to an aluminium plate. The lcd display indicates the set temperature, plate temperature and heater duty cycle.
Once germinated, the seeds are transferred to individual pots and placed into a propagator at 21 deg. C. To transfer the seeds to a pot, a small hole is made in the compost with a pair of tweezers and the seed is dropped into the hole. Once there is some green colour to the shoot the hole is filled in around the seed and clean sand sprinkled onto the compost surface .It is important at this stage to keep the compost moist at all times./p>
Seedlings in individual pots on month after sowing.
After a few weeks the first leaf will split at the bottom and the second leaf will emerge. This leaf will resemble a normal leaf. Some time later, the third leaf will emerge and the seedling will start to take on the appearance of its parents.
Agave seedlings 4 month old.
After about a month, I usually start adding about a quarter strength balanced liquid feed at least once a month when I water the pots. the plants will remain in those pots until they are large enough to need potting on.
On the next page we take a look propagation by coring.