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Offlinenamaste
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San Pedro
    #3565453 - 12/31/04 02:58 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Can I germinate seeds now? or should i wait till spring?


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OfflineMaverik
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Re: San Pedro [Re: namaste]
    #3565506 - 12/31/04 03:11 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Go for it. Flourescents or a sunny window will work best for the first 8-12 months.


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Offlinenamaste
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Re: San Pedro [Re: Maverik]
    #3565520 - 12/31/04 03:14 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Cool, thanks.


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OfflineHooty
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Re: San Pedro [Re: Maverik]
    #3565524 - 12/31/04 03:15 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

I started my seeds this year back in october/november. The seedlings don't need too much light during the first few months, as a matter of fact too mcuh light will give them a nasty case of sunburn. I'd restrict them to only indirect light until they're several months old and then slowly acclimatize them to more light.

This should be helpful:
http://www.cactus-mall.com/ccc/


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Offlinenamaste
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Re: San Pedro [Re: Hooty]
    #3565537 - 12/31/04 03:20 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Wow, that's a good site. I plan on using an East window with a couple hours of direct light until this summer.


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OfflineHooty
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Re: San Pedro [Re: namaste]
    #3565546 - 12/31/04 03:24 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

well just make sure that those couple hours of direct sunlight aren't too much....if you start to see any odd discoloration (reddening or such) cut back on their light quickly.


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InvisibleM_S_Smith
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Re: San Pedro [Re: Hooty]
    #3566696 - 12/31/04 10:55 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Below are a few revisions I have made for my Closet Cactus Care about starting seed which may be helpful. I plan on completing all the revisions soon and having the Cactus-Mall put up the new piece.

~Michael~

Closet Cactus Care
by Michael S. Smith

Copyright ?2004 by Michael S. Smith
All rights reserved. Not to be printed or copied and distributed for personal, commercial, and/or financial gain, in print or electronically, without the expressed written consent of the author.

Starting Cactus from Seed

For the non-professional cactus lover starting cacti from seed can be a daunting task, especially for those without a greenhouse and experience. But growing these beautiful specimens of the plant kingdom should not be limited to those who are mass producers. Everyone should have a chance to start their own cacti from seed and slowly watch them as they grow and form into mature specimens. With the right resources and techniques the cactus enthusiast should find success, even if that is within a well lit closet.

Seeds and Soil

Of course first thoughts must be given to what seeds to grow. There are a number of very reputable cactus plant and seed dealers, my own favorite being Mesa Garden of Belen, New Mexico. This company offers thousands of different species of seed to choose from. Mesa Garden, and many other seed sellers, can be located at the Cactus and Succulent Plant Mall home page at http://www.cactus-mall.com.
Soil choice among the professionals can be quite an intricate endeavor. Many cacti have very specific ecosystems that they have evolved in, but until you become much more involved in cacti care you can simply use the general cactus soil that can be purchased from your local nursery or garden center. If you are looking for a quality general purpose soil I would recommend ordering from Bob Smoley?s GardenWorld, or many of the other cacti dealers found at the Plant Mall. Many professionals are now using mixes with 50% pumice with good results, but a general mix could consist of 2/3 porous quality potting mix to 1/3 pumice or perlite. With age some of the more desert loving species might require a mineral based soil, but seedlings of nearly all sorts take well to a light quick draining soil.

Getting Started

Besides the seed and soil other needed supplies are small plastic pots, a regular sized spoon, 2 deep microwavable bowls with lids (preferably glass, one large and one small), a set of tweezers, a can of disinfectant spray or bleach, and some zip-lock baggies. I would also recommend that only distilled water be used for soaking the soil and any future misting of the soil or seedlings. Using distilled water at the early stages of growth help prevent the mineral buildup on the seedlings. Often such deposits of minerals will ring the young seedlings, causing burns that can either kill the seedlings or stunt their growth.
Getting the soil ready and killing off all contaminates is the first step. Make an estimate of how much soil is going to be needed to fill the number of pots that are going to be used for the number of seeds you have. Seed should be set in the soil ?? to ?? (1 cm) apart. The soil should be put in the large glass bowl and slowly add distilled water and mix till it is minimally wet, trying to eliminate all dry spots. The soil should not be so wet as to make it difficult to work with. Microwave for about one minute for each cup of soil. The steam created through the heating should be enough for sterilization. Use the small glass bowl to do the same procedure with sifted soil, but this time use only about ? the original soil amount. This soil will be the topping for the regular soil and allow for the seed roots to dig in. After both containers of soil are sterilized let them cool. I recommend letting it cool with the lids on since it will help the soil avoid picking up airborne spores. This may of course take some time, so get cleaning.
Disinfect all the pots and tools by placing them in the sink with a gallon of warm water and a tablespoon or two of bleach. Let them sit for a few minutes to kill of any contaminates. If the pots are previously used they should be scrubbed with a clean unused sponge, being careful to remove all dirt and mineral buildup. This step will most likely save you from the horror of fungus engulfing your seeds and seedlings. Many simply avoid this step by using a fungicide in the soil, but often this will lessen seed germination rates, something that the closet cactus grower, with few seeds, might not be able to afford. Finish up by using the disinfectant on the counter top and placing the clean pots and tools out to dry on a clean towel. I am of course trying to stress that all items used the process, from towels to tweezers, need to be thoroughly clean and free of contaminates, etc.
An easier way to sterilize the soil and pots is possible and quite handy if you are just sowing a small number of species; simply put the soil in the pots as described below (without the seeds) and microwave for an appropriate amount of time. Of course be sure that you do not cook them to long, causing the plastic to melt. I generally will put the pots in a gallon sized zip-lock baggy that is partially closed, thereby lessening the dissipation of the soils moisture content. Then you can just let the soil cool a bit in this large bag, remove the pots to sow the seeds, and then place the pots back into the bags for germination.

Sowing the Seed

Once the fine topsoil is ready, being slightly warm (80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit), start by filling each pot full with regular soil and then with a very thin layer of sifted soil on top of that. I use square 2 ?? (6 cm) plastic pots. Gently press the soil down with your spoon, but not too much, it needs to stay rather loose. Give a spraying from a misting bottle to settle and even out the top layer of soil. Make sure the soil is relatively wet but in no way soaking wet. You can of course mist until the water runs out of the pots bottom holes, but be sure that they are fully drained before placing in the baggies as you do not want excess water at the bottom of the bags.
Once you are ready to sow the seeds you can place them in a light colored bowl so that they are easy to see and so that should you not have a good grip on the seed it doesn?t get shot away. Many times I have had seeds fly out from between the grasps of the tweezers and get lost. With the tweezers place the seeds on the soil and press them halfway into the soil. Give about ?? to ?? (1 cm) between seedlings as you should probably keep them in these containers for approximately 6 months.
Now you are ready to bag them up. Two 2 ?? pots fit perfectly into a small sandwich sized zip-lock baggie while three pots fit without the gallon sized bags. The trick in bagging them is to make the bag like a tent. This will cause the condensation buildup within the bag to run down the sides and collect at the base of the pots, possibly to be sucked back into the pots through the bottom holes. If a horizontal ceiling is above the pots droplets of condensation may fall directly on top of the newborn seedlings, often displacing the seedlings or causing them to rot easier. The easiest way to make such a tent is to place the pots directly on the crease that is at the bottom of the bags. This would mean the zip-lock device is directly above the pots.

Creating the Right Environment - Heat and Light

Now that the seeds are bagged up it?s important to create the right growing environment of heating and lighting. This is possibly the most critical aspect of growing your own cacti from seed. My own method is to place the baggies onto a reptile heating pad that can be purchased from a pet store. There are a couple different sizes available, but they are rather expensive, approximately $40 for the larger one. You may want to place a small thermometer (sterilized) within one of the bags to make sure the internal temperature does not get excessive. Best germination is at about 80 to 85 degrees, but a night temperature around 65 to 70 degrees is also necessary as it simulates their natural desert environment of hot days and cool nights. I have my own heating pads and lights on a timer. A 14 to 16 hour cycle of light and heat is good. Dependent upon what type of lighting you use, its heat production, and the environment in which the baggies will be placed, you may not need heating pads. I start my own seeds in the cooler basement of my house which usually will run about 65 to 70 degrees for the duration of the winter and I will often feel comfortable with leaving the heating pads on continuously while the lights undergo their cycle. I sow my seed in autumn so that they will be ready to acclimatize to natural conditions come spring in my small greenhouse.
For lighting I use four 40 watt 4? long florescent tubes contained in two hooded shop light fixtures. These are elevated 1? above the seed containers. This is usually fine for the germination phase but may turn out to be too much light for best growth. Many people believe in putting the lights upwards of a couple inches from the soil level, but I have found this is not always necessary. It must be kept in mind that though cacti are typically desert plants they germinate and have much of their initial growth in cracks and crevices in the soil or under the shade of other plants. A clear sign that there is too much light is that the seedlings will stop growing and get a reddish/brown color. If this occurs you can use cheesecloth to drape over the bags as needed to create shade. Germination should take anywhere from a week to nearly a month, so be patient and avoid opening the baggies and letting in contaminates.
After about two or three months it is possible to remove the pots from the baggies and keep them under the lights and on the heating pad cycle. Some people have been known to keep the pots in the bag for up to a year, so don?t be in a hurry unless you notice fungal infections. A common problem encountered is green ?slime mold,? a form of algae. I treat it by applying any root tone powder with a small paint brush on the soil. After a few days I will spray the topsoil to wash away the powder.


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InvisibleM_S_Smith
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Re: San Pedro [Re: M_S_Smith]
    #3566701 - 12/31/04 10:59 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Here's some of my Trichocereus seedlings. All of these are hybrids of Peruvian species.

~Michael~



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InvisibleM_S_Smith
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Re: San Pedro [Re: M_S_Smith]
    #3566707 - 12/31/04 11:04 PM (12 years, 1 month ago)

Here are a number of my starter bags with three 6cm square containers in each.

~Michael~



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