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Propagating Natives from Seed

Published October 27, 2014 in


There is something very rewarding about growing your own plants from seed you have collected. It is also a very cheap way of expanding the number of plants in your garden. Thankfully, many of out Australian natives are easy to grow from seed, but some will need pretreatment in order to geminate.

One of the most common methods is to soak the seed in hot water or scarify the outer casing so that water can penetrate the seed embryo. The development in smoke water pretreatment has made many harder to germinate species now worth a try. You can either soak the seed in smoke water or water the seed trays with smoke water. There is also available impregnated smoke vermiculite which works really well.

Callistemons, Malaleucas, Eucalyptus, Hakeas, Banksias, Calothamnus, Tea tree, Kunzia and Acacias can all be successfully propagated by seed. The best seed is found in the oldest unopened seed cases in the oldest wood. Mature seed is not found in cases that are green – they must be brown or grey. Prune off the branches and place immediately in a paper bag. Always label the bag so you know what’s in it. Seed raising mix is the best medium to use as its very free draining and allows the small roots to penetrate through the mix.

Acacia – Wattles
Most wattle seeds need pretreatment. To extract the seed dry, shake and sieve, then pour boiling water over seed and soak overnight or you can sandpaper edge of seed coat being careful not to damage the embryo. Seeds will store for up to 50 years and germinate in 2-7 days.

Hakea
Pick when mature, place in paper bag, seed should release in 2-3 weeks, if not put in oven for half hour. Nick hard outer coat or place in boiling water. Use freshly extracted seed, but do not sow during high humidity. Germination takes 2-5 weeks.

Banksia
Lightly burn in open fire or BBQ to split open follicles. Use tweezers to remove thin black seed which is found inside the capsule. Bankia’s are a bit susceptible to damping off so make sure there is plenty of ventilation. Germination is 2-6 weeks.

Grevillea
Put mature pods in paper bag or place stocking over nearly mature seeds as they explode on opening. You can either soak the seed in boiling water or nick outer seed coat. Use the seed within 6 months, germination is from 1-8 weeks.

Eucalyptus
Select oldest seed cases at least 12 months old. Shake and tap seed out fully as the fertile seed is at the bottom. All eucalypts have a lot of packing which often makes up 80% of content. The actual seed will be dark brown/black in colour. No treatment necessary. You can store the seed up to 11 years, and germination occurs in 7-14 days.

Anigozanthus – Kangaroo Paw
Pick flower as colour fades and is dry. Place upside down in paper bag in sun, then crack capsules with rolling pin – there will be about 3 seeds per capsule. Use fresh seed and allow 21 days for germination.

Summer is a great time to collect your seed, so get out there and propagate!

If you cant get enough of Western Australian flora now you can wear it, wipe it, lay it and fill it.

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