Plant propagation

Growing your own plants is affordable, rewarding and, if done properly, good for the local environment and biodiversity. Different plant types benefit from different propagation techniques, so check the species you’re interested in to see how best to grow it. You can find general information here on:

1. Propagating from seed

Collecting seeds

Why collect wild and local seed?
Plants grown from seeds collected from original native remnant sites in your local area will have the genetic diversity necessary to produce new plants that are best suited to local conditions. Propagating these will provide plants either for horticultural use or for revegetation.

Plants grown from seed have diverse genes, whereas plants grown by other means such as cuttings are clones, genetically identical to the 'parent plant' and may be more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Note: Be aware that there are some restrictions around collecting plant material in national parks and reserves, and you will need a license to collect in these areas. There are further restrictions around threatened and protected plant species that must be strictly observed. You can find more information about licenses in relation to threatened and protected plant species here and here. Please have a good read of these documents!

The seeds of Bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) collected and ready for processing. Image by Leon Fuller. 

When to collect fruit and seed
Fruit and seed of tree species will generally ripen about three to six months after flowering. The process may be much quicker with smaller plants.
  • Careful observation is needed to notice the changes in colour, size or texture that mean fruit and seed are ripe and ready to collect. A good indicator that fleshy fruit are ripe is when the flesh softens.
  • Dry fruit becomes hard or brittle when ripe.
  • Some but not all plants flower and fruit every year. Some may fruit at irregular periods spanning two to many years, and some may fruit more than once in any one year.

How much seed?
For home use, gather only a small quantity of seed, preferably from a number of different plants. Don't take much seed, as plenty needs to remain for the natural propagation of the bushland, and as food for wildlife. As a general rule, never take more than ten percent of the seed that is present. 

Collection equipment
Gardening gloves
Sharp, clean secateurs 
Long-handled pruning loppers
Plastic bags for fleshy fruit
Paper bags for dry and woody fruit
Backpack or bag to carry equipment and fruit

Notes on collecting fleshy fruit
Fleshy fruit should be placed into a plastic bag so they won’t dry out before processing. Use one bag per species. Label the bag with the species name, collector’s name, date of collection and location. You should also note whether the source plant was in a natural area or a garden/landscaped area. 

Notes on collecting dry fruit
Dry fruit come in many forms, and may be papery or woody. The seed of many species can be stored for long periods of time provided they are cleaned, kept dry and protected from insects and vermin. Dry fruit are usually ripe when they turn grey, brown or black. 

Place the collected fruit in a paper bag, to prevent the development of rot or mould. Use one bag per species. Label the bag with the species name, collector’s name, date of collection and location. You should also note whether the source plant was in a natural area or a garden/landscaped area.

Treating collected fruit and seeds

Treatment is the extraction and cleaning of seeds from the fruit in preparation for storage and planting. Many seeds need some treatment to help break the seed dormancy and allow germination to occur more reliably.   

Treatment equipment
Gardening gloves
Rubber gloves
Bowls for soaking fruit
Sieves with various sized mesh for separating seeds from fruits, twigs, husks etc

Treatment of fleshy fruit
Fleshy fruit generally does not store well and often needs to be treated and sown as soon as possible after collection. Some tips for the treatment process:
  • Wear rubber gloves because the flesh might stain your hands and the decomposing flesh has an unpleasant smell.
  • The flesh covering the seed needs to be removed by soaking in water until it can be removed easily. Soaking the fruit attempts to imitate the chemical process that occurs when a bird digests the fruit. It also drowns any insect larvae which may attack the seeds and leaches out any chemical inhibitors that may stop or slow the germination process.
  • Wash as much of the flesh away as possible under running water.
  • Strain the seeds and dry off using paper towel.
  • Sow the seed as soon as possible as it may lose viability quickly.
NB. Some fleshy fruit have soft seed that should not be soaked because the seeds will rot, e.g. Rosewood (Synoum glandulosum), Hairy Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum tomentosum), Black Plum (Diospyros australis) and Bleeding Heart (Homalanthus populifolius). Other fleshy fruit benefit from other techniques. See the propagation information provided for individual species for further information.

Treatment of dry fruit of the Myrtaceae family (e.g. Bottlebrush, Eucalyptus, Paperbark, Tea Tree and Turpentine) 
The fruit of these plants are dry capsules which are often hard and woody.
  • Place the fruit in a paper bag and put in a warm, dry place until the contents including the seeds are released. 
  • Separate the seed from the fruit by using an appropriate grade sieve. 
  • Discard the fruit and chaff and store the seed until required.
  • Follow propagating technique for fine dry seed.

Treatment of dry fruit of Acacias and other legumes
The fruit of acacias and legumes are pods that vary from papery to hard and stiff. Some eject the seed explosively.
  • Place pods in a paper bag and put in a warm dry place until the pods release  between one to many pea shaped seeds.
  • Place the contents of the bag into a sieve to separate the seeds from the pods.
  • Discard the pods and store the seed until required.

Boiling water method of propagation for some Acacias and other ‘pea plants’
This is a common treatment for seeds with a hard seed coat particularly some of the acacias. The seed coat forms a physical barrier which is impervious to water, thus inhibiting germination.
  • Boil some water and then pour it over over the seeds and allow them to soak overnight. 
  • Seeds that have softened and swollen are ready for sowing. Discard seeds that float.
  • Strain the seeds and pat dry with a paper towel and sow as soon as possible after treatment. Treated seeds do not store well.
Some legumes do not require treatment using the boiling water method, although it won't damage the seeds if they are treated this way. Notes are included in the profile for each species about what method should be used instead. 

Treatment dry fruit of plants with a grass-like appearance
The infructescences of grasses, sedges, Lomandra and some other grass-like plants usually contain many fruit (and seeds) along the stem. Wear gloves as some leaves have sharp edges and some fruit are very prickly.
  • Grasses and sedges become dry and brittle when ripe.
    • Place in a paper bag and put in a warm dry place.
    • Strip the fruit (seeds) from the stem.
    • Some may need to be rubbed between the hands or rubbed across the face  of a sieve to separate the seeds from the chaff.
    • Place them in a shallow tray and winnow or shake in a sieve to isolate the seeds from the chaff.
    • Store the seeds until required.
  • Lomandra and Gahnia species become dry, prickly and brittle when ripe.
    • Remove the husks from the seeds by rubbing them against the surface of a metal sieve and blow the chaff from the seeds. Store the seed until required.

Sowing seeds 

Native seeds and seedlings should be sown in native seed raising mix, propagating sand and native potting mix. It is essential that the mix is free-draining. There are many commercial products available, and ones labelled ‘native mix’ are usually the safest choice, as they are low in phosphorus which is not suitable for some local native species. Garden soil is not generally a suitable substitute.

Fertiliser or seaweed tonics are not needed for seeds or seedlings as the seeds contain all the necessary nutrients. When planting out, if you wish to fertilise, use only a small quantity of blood and bone or slow-release native fertiliser. 

Method of sowing fine seed
Fine seed can be placed in a pepper shaker with some sand to assist with sowing as evenly and sparsely as possible e.g. Bottlebrush, Eucalyptus, Paperbark and Tea Tree. 

Depth of sowing seed
Sow the seeds evenly in a punnet, polystyrene box (with drainage holes) or tray to a depth about two or three times the size of the seed. With fine seed a depth of 5 or 6 mm is probably necessary to cover the seed to prevent them being washed out of the soil when watering.

Seeds of some rainforest plants develop very long roots quickly and are best sown directly into tubes. Plants in this category include Veiny Wilkea (Wilkea huegeliana) and Doughwood (Melicope micrococca). 

'Pricking out'

The process of transferring seedlings from a punnet or seed tray into individual tubes or other small pots is known as 'pricking out'. The method is:

  • Gently loosen the sand or potting mix around the seedlings using a skewer or a fork and carefully lift them by their leaves, holding them between your thumb and forefinger. Tease the seedlings apart from the tangled mass of roots carefully, so the roots don’t break. Use only the strongest seedlings and discard the rest. Don’t allow the roots to dry out.
  • Plant the chosen seedlings into small individual square tubes into native potting mix.
  • Put a small quantity of potting mix into the base of the tube, hold the seedling in one hand over the centre of the pot with the roots pointing downward and sprinkle more potting mix around the roots until the tube is almost full.
  • Press the soil very gently around the stem ensuring that it is in the centre and upright.
  • Tap the pot gently to settle the potting mix around the roots. Add more potting mix if necessary.
  • Water gently with a soft spray to make sure that the roots are in contact with the potting mix and are well settled into the tube.
  • Place the plants in a shady place and water daily with a soft spray. New leaf growth is a good indication that the seedling is growing strongly.  
  • Gradually increase the amount of sunlight available to the plants. This is called ‘hardening off’.
  • When roots emerge from the holes in the bottom of the tube it is time to repot into a larger tube or plant out into the ground.

Seedlings removed from a punnet or seed-raising tray grow closely together and often have their roots tangled together. Image by John Clark.
This image shows how closely two seedlings' roots can grow. Image by John Clark.
Teasing apart the roots of seedlings is a very delicate business. They can be pulled very gently, or the mass of plants and soil repeatedly dropped onto a hard surface to encourage detangling. Image by John Clark.
After much careful effort, the roots of these two seedlings have been separated without major damage. Damage to roots is harder for seedlings to bear than damage to their leaves or stems. Image by John Clark.

Placement of tubes while the seedlings are growing
After native seedlings are pricked out and planted into tubes, place the tubes into a crate that allows free drainage and air movement and space for the roots to grow and to be air pruned when they emerge from the base. Place the crate in a warm shady place, protected from wind. Ideally avoid placing it directly on the ground as this will allow slugs to access the seedlings.  Water seedlings daily and gradually increase the amount of sunlight available to them over a period of a few weeks.This is called ‘hardening off’.

Why native plants are grown in square tubes and not round pots
Square tubes with internal ridges encourage roots to grow vertically. Any roots that have a tendency to grow horizontally will be redirected downwards. Round pots allow horizontal roots to develop unchecked and unless plants are repotted, the roots will grow in a spiral form and the plant will become pot-bound. This spiralling and kinking will never straighten and later in the plant’s growth will remain as weak points that break in high winds, causing the plant to fall over. 

Strong vertical root growth in a square tube. The species shown here is Veiny  Wilkiea (Wilkiea huegeliana). Image by John Clarke.

2. Vegetative methods of propagation

Some plants are very difficult or slow to grow from seed, or seed may be scarce or unavailable or you may wish to maintain a clone (a particular strain or genetic type).
In these instances, vegetative methods of propagation are very useful. 

Plants grown vegetatively often grow more quickly than plants grown from seed. The disadvantage is that vegetative methods of propagation produce clones that are identical to the parent plant which may lead to inbreeding and susceptibility to disease. which are undesirable traits in plants for revegetation sites.

Some of the most useful methods of vegetative propagation include cuttings, division and layering.

Propagating plants by cuttings

Collection and preparation of cuttings
Plants are able to regenerate and grow into a fully developed plant from a cutting. Roots will start to develop after about 6-8 weeks. Some cuttings only develop a weak root system or simply won’t develop develop roots at all. To prepare for making cuttings: 
  • Collect cutting material from as many different parent plants as possible.
  • Select firm but springy cutting material (preferably from a plant that is not flowering or fruiting) early in the morning when the plants are full of water. Place into a bucket of water or a plastic bag into which a little water has been added to keep the cuttings in good condition and to reduce the amount of water loss until they can be planted.
  • Prepare plant labels i.e. name of plant, date and place of collection
  • Prepare several small pots by lining the base with greaseproof kitchen paper before filling them with propagating sand or native seed raising mix, wet thoroughly and allow to drain.
  • Use tools that are sharp and clean. Tools can be kept clean by wiping the cutting surface with methylated spirit or bleach, before and after use.
  • Vegetative propagation is best done during autumn and spring in an area protected from wind and the heat of the sun.
  • Do not use fertiliser or seaweed tonics when making cuttings.
To make and care for the cuttings:
  • Cut stems to about 10cm long from a firm, but not woody part of the plant at a node (the part where the leaves are attached to the stem).
  • The top of the cutting should be cut straight and the bottom cut diagonally to increase the surface area from which roots can grow.
  • Remove the lower leaves from the stem by stripping or cutting, leaving only a few leaves at the top of the cutting. Large leaves should be trimmed to half their size. By reducing the size and number of leaves, the rate of water loss through transpiration can be reduced.
  • ‘Wound’ the stem by gently scraping the outer layer of the stem with a clean, sharp knife. This is the area from which the new roots will grow.
  • Optional – dip the stem into hormone gel or liquid for native plants to assist with root development (follow manufacturer’s instructions).
  • Use a stick or pencil to make several holes about 4cm deep into the propagating mix or sand.
  • Position each cutting into separate holes and gently but firmly press the propagating mix around the stem.
  • Place the cuttings in a warm shady place, protected from wind and water daily. This suits most plants, but take note if plants are drying out too quickly or showing signs of water-logging and adjust conditions accordingly.
  • Remove any dead stems or leaf litter from the surface of the pot daily.
  • When roots start to emerge from the bottom of the pot, the cuttings are ready to be planted into individual tubes.            

Take cuttings to a length of around 10cm. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
Trim the top of the cutting straight, and the  bottom on a sharp angle. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
The wounded stem of a cutting, showing 2cm to 3cm of the outer stem removed. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
Cuttings with new roots growing from the 'wounded' area of the stem. Drawing by Mary Williamson.

Propagating plants by division

Some plants grow into clumps, developing multiple stems and roots. Large clumps can be divided by cutting sections off the ‘parent’ plant and planted directly into the ground or the sections can be repotted. The method is:
  • Carefully dig the plant out of the ground, or remove the plant from a pot by holding the stem of the plant  between two fingers. Turn the tube upside down. Gently tap the upside-down top of the tube on the edge of a bench or a hard surface to loosen the roots. Slide the plant from the tube, keeping the potting mix and root ball intact if possible.
  • If the roots are thick and strong and very congested, the root mass can be placed Into a bucket of water to loosen them or can be loosened by hosing the soil binding the roots together.
  • Cut the plant into sections with a clean, sharp knife, secateurs or machete, making sure that there are enough leaves, buds and roots on the division for the new plant to grow independently of the parent plant. Trim away any damaged roots or leaves.
  • Plant into the ground or into a tube or pot larger than the root system.
  • Water in gently and well.
  • Leave the plant  in a shady place until it has recovered from the ‘transplant shock’. Plants such as Lomandra, Dianella and sedges are suitable for this method of vegetative propagation.
Using a sharp knife to cut through a plant's root ball. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
A single plant divided into two new plants that can be  planted separately. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
A 'before' image of a single plant before it is divided. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
An 'after' image showing one part of a divided plant once it has been planted out. Drawing by Mary Williamson.

Propagating plants by layering

Layering is a method of creating a new plant by encouraging roots to grow from a node along a stem or a branch which is still attached to the parent plant. The method is:   
  • ‘Wound’ the stem by gently scraping off the outer layer of the stem with a clean, sharp knife to encourage root growth.
  • Optionally, apply native hormone gel or liquid to the ‘wound’. Follow manufacturer’s  instructions.
  • Use pins to anchor the stem of the parent plant into the soil or into a pot filled with native potting mix to ensure it has positive contact to allow roots to develop.
  • After about 6-8 weeks, remove some soil to reveal if the layered stem has developed roots. 
  • Sever the stem from the parent plant and allow it to grow in situ until it is growing strong and independently.
  • Dig the new plant up and plant in its new location.
Using pins to anchor the stem of a parent plant. Drawing by Mary Williamson.
The natural growth of Pollia (Pollia crispata), Commelina (Commelina cyanea), Native Violet (Viola hederacea) and Kidney Weed (Dichondra repens) is by layering as well as by setting seed. 
The natural layering of Native Violet (Viola hederacea). Drawing by Mary Williamson.

3. Propagating ferns

Propagating ferns from spores can be a slow but rewarding process, and may take anywhere from a few months to twelve months or more, depending on species. Some ferns can be propagated by division.

The life cycle of a fern

The life cycle of a fern occurs in two stages. From the adult fern, spores are produced from sporangia (structures producing and containing spores) arranged in groups called sori on the undersurface or margins of fertile fronds.  Spores are dispersed by wind or water and germinate to produce a prothallus (a small, round, green, flat “plate” about 5mm or 10mm across). This is the sexual part of the life cycle and it produces the next generation of adult fern body. This fern body grows into the adult, which will again produce spores.

The objective of collecting and germinating spores is to grow the prothallii which will be recognised as the green roundish flat discs in your seed tray on germination. To germinate and encourage fertilisation in the prothallus, a certain amount of water is required in the mix but this should not saturate the surface.

Life cycle of a fern.  Drawing by Mary Williamson.

Spore collection
To check if the sporangia are ripe and are dropping spores, tap the frond over a piece of white paper. Very fine dust-like spores and sori debris will fall if they are ripe. Place the section of frond into a white A4 envelope to collect the spores as they ripen.

Propagation of ferns from spores

The spores are sown onto a 50/50 mix of peat moss and fine perlite in a flat seedling tray which must be kept moist and warm (about 21 degrees Celsius). Humidity can be maintained by covering the tray with a sheet of glass. Filtered light is necessary, but not direct sunlight. The sheet of glass could be at an angle so that any condensation will run off without dripping onto the developing prothallii.

After the adult ferns begin to develop from the prothallii and are large enough to be handled, they can be separated and transplanted into individual pots. If germination does not occur, spores may not be present or may not have been viable.

Vegetative methods of fern propagation

Some ferns reproduce vegetatively (as well as sexually) and this can be the easiest and most reliable way of propagation. There are a number of different structures that ferns have for vegetative propagation. Some have rhizomes that creep above or below ground and can be propagated by division, that is new plants can be separated from the parent by taking a part of the rhizome with some aerial stems and leaves. Species suitable for this include the Microsorums, the Rainbow Fern (Calochlaena dubia) and the Shield Ferns (Lastreopsis spp).

Some ferns develop small plants (bulbils) on their fronds which can be removed carefully and planted out separately. Examples of species having this feature are Necklace Fern (Asplenium flabellifolium), Mother Spleenwort (Asplenium bulbiferum), and Harsh Shield Fern (Polystichum australiense). 

Ferns with multiple crowns
Such as: Rasp Fern (e.g. Doodia aspera), Shield Ferns (e.g. Polystichum australiense
  • Leave the fern in situ, then use a sharp knife to divide the crowns.
  • Water well and leave the ferns in this state to establish more roots
  • After about three months, lift the divided crowns and pot on or plant out
  • Continue to water well until fully established

Ferns with creeping underground rhizomes
Such as: Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum), Giant Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum formosum), Rough Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum hispidulum), Bat’s Wing Fern (Histiopteris incisa), Harsh Ground Fern (Hypolepis muelleri), Sickle Fern (Pellaea falcata)
  • Using a sharp knife, cut sections of the rhizome with new growth of 1 or 2 new fronds
  • Pot the sections on
  • It may take between 2 and 6 months for the divided rhizome to become re-established and show signs of growing new fronds

Ferns with creeping rhizomes growing over rocks and on tree bark
Such as: Hare’s Foot Fern (Davallia solida var. pyxidata), Kangaroo Fern (Microsorum pustulatum), Fragrant Fern (Microsorum scandens), Rock Felt Fern (Pyrrosia rupestris), Leathery Shield Fern (Rumohra adiantiformis)
  • Using sharp secateurs, cut new growing rhizome branches from the parent fern and pin the pieces down onto the surface of the potting medium
  • For Rock Felt Fern (Pyrrosia rupestris), tie the pieces of rhizome onto a rock or bark surface and keep constantly wet.

Ferns that produce small plants (bulbils) on the fronds
Such as: Mother Spleenwort (Asplenium bulbiferum subsp. gracillimum), Mother Shield Fern (Polystichum proliferum),  Necklace Fern (Asplenium flabellifolium)
  • Pin the frond with the bulbils still attached into a pot of propagating mix.
  • When the small plants are well developed, gently cut the main frond away.
Or try this alternative method:
  • Allow the bulbils to develop fronds of their own while still attached to the parent plant and then gently cut away the frond below the bulbil and pot on.

Elkhorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
  • The small new plants develop on the sterile fronds of the plant.
  • These can be removed by cutting them away carefully from the broad shield- like surface of the frond
  • Attach the small plant to a tree that does not shed its bark or onto a timber backing board.
  • Grow in a shady position and water well.

4. Repotting and planting out


A plant needs potting up if the roots are matted or when the roots are emerging from the bottom of the tube. Native potting mix is very free-draining so plants in tubes or pots need to be watered daily and should never be allowed to dry out. The method is:
  • Select the next-larger sized tube than the one the plant is currently in.
  • Hold the stem of the plant between two fingers and turn the tube upside down.
  • Gently tap the top of the upside-down tube to loosen the roots.  
  • If the roots are congested, cut the tube away.
  • Slide the plant from the tube, keeping the potting mix and root ball intact if possible. Add some potting mix to the new tube and hold the plant in the tube with one hand so that the level of the plant will be 2cm to 3cm below the top of the tube.
  • Add potting mix between the root ball and the wall of the tube, then tap the tube several times on a firm surface to settle the mix around the roots.
  • Lightly press the potting mix around the plant stem, then water gently but generously to ensure there are no air pockets around the roots. Add additional potting mix if necessary. 
  • Put the plant in a shady place for a few days and water daily to allow it to recover from ‘transplant shock’.
  • Gradually increase the amount of sunlight suitable for the plant to be ‘hardened off’.  
Tubes showing the roots of plants showing through. These plants are ready for repotting. Image by John Clark. 
Holding the stem of the plant between two  fingers before turning the tube upside down. Image by John Clark. 
Turning the tube and plant upside down, the plant and soil held in place by two fingers. Image by John Clark.
Shaking the tube and plant gently to release the plant and surrounding soil. Image by John Clark.
If necessary, tapping the tube gently on a hard surface can help to release the plant. This is a delicate operation. Image by John Clark.
Easing the plant and surrounding soil out of the tube in one piece requires care and attention. Image by John Clark.
The root development of this small plant is sufficient that the plant and soil have held together when it is eased out of its tube, ready for repotting. Image by John Clark.

Planting out

Native tube stock planted in a well-prepared hole will grow vigorously and will often ‘catch up’ to a plant that is larger and considered to be more advanced. Tubestock plants are less likely to suffer from ‘transplant shock’ if the root system is more developed than the foliage. Optimum root development, rather than lush, attractive foliage development, is the key to successful plant growth. When planted correctly, the plant will send roots deep into the subsoil to access deep moisture, rather than rely on surface moisture. This helps the plant to endure times of drought. Give your plants the best chance to grow and thrive by:-
  • Selecting the most suitable plant for your site and local conditions.
  • Planting out during autumn or spring when the soil temperature is above 15 degrees Celsius
  • Selecting tube stock that is growing strongly with some roots emerging from the base of the tube (but not root bound with a lot of roots emerging). Picture
  • Preparing your plant by ensuring that it has been ‘hardened off’ sufficiently to cope with conditions outside of the nursery.
  • Preparing the site and planting hole.
  • Protecting the plant during dry, windy and very hot conditions.
  • Using fertiliser judiciously but not at a rate greater than the fertiliser manufacturer recommends. Also, do not use fertiliser on plants of the Proteaceae family or on plants of the Fabaceae-Faboideae and Fabaceae-Mimosoideae subfamilies. Fertiliser should be applied on the soil surface after planting and watered in. Do not put fertiliser in the hole beneath the plant. 

Preparing your plant for planting-out in the garden, bush or container
  • Fill a deep container with water enough to cover the soil in the tubes to be planted.
  • Submerge the plant in the pot up to the soil level for about 10 minutes. Any air bubbles will be displaced and the root ball will be thoroughly wet.
  • Lift the pot out of the water and allow it to drain.

Preparing the planting hole
  • Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball of the plant and deep enough so that the roots will remain straight.
  • Fill the hole with water and allow the water to drain away. Do this twice. Put ½ teaspoon of water saving crystals into the hole.
  • If the water will not drain away within 24 hours, build up a mound of soil.
  • Place the prepared plant in the hole and backfill with the loosened soil that came out of the planting hole.The hole should be filled to the same depth around plant as it was in the pot. Compact the soil firmly with your hands. Stamping down with you foot, especially  on the root-ball of the plant can and often does, damage the roots.  
  • Water in thoroughly then apply a fertiliser at the recommended rate, if it is necessary and desired, then apply a thick layer of mulch preferably 10cm to 15cm thick. Keep the mulch away from the stem of the plant. Water thoroughly and deeply for the first few weeks.   
  • Plastic tree guards and bamboo stakes may be sufficient protection from small grazing and burrowing animals such as rabbits, but larger herbivores tend to eat plants as they grow above the plastic sleeve.
  • Wire cages 1m high supported with star pickets or hardwood stakes will provide some protection from larger grazing animals.

Preparation tips for revegetation sites
  • Clear the area around the plant of grass and other weeds, as these rob the plant of moisture and nutrients
  • Mulch using surrounding leaf litter and sticks, as bare earth is very easily colonised by weeds.
  • Wire cages 1 metre high supported with star pickets or hardwood stakes tree will protect plants from large grazing animals.

Preparation and plant care for planting in pots
  • Preferably use pots that are impermeable to water. Loss of water through the pot can increase drying out enormously. Use plastic, glazed or fibreglass pots rather than concrete or terracotta pots.
  • Container plants rely on moist potting mix to maintain the plant’s water balance. If the potting mix dries out the plant won’t thrive and will eventually die.
  • Use a good quality native potting mix with good water holding capacity (not garden soil). If the potting mix dries out it loses the capacity to absorb water and may become hydrophobic. Use mulch over the potting mix to help reduce evaporation.
  • It is important to water container plants regularly. Scratch the mix to see if it is moist enough. Plants located under trees or under eaves are especially vulnerable to drying out.
  • Potting mix becomes depleted of nutrients and water holding capacity over time, so plants need to be repotted every couple of seasons to maintain health and vigour.

5. General warnings and safety advice

Plant parts including stems, sap, leaves, fruit and seeds may be toxic, cause allergy, irritation or staining. The following precautions are important for your safety:
  • Wear gloves when handling fruits, seeds, cuttings and potting mix
  • Don’t touch your face, lips or eyes when handling fruits and seeds
  • Don’t eat fruits or seeds
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling seeds, plants or potting material. This will help prevent the spread of diseases or pathogens, either to other plants or to yourself!

6. References and further reading

This guide was prepared by Lyn Clark with contributions from a range of people, including Leon Fuller, Carl Glaister and Emma Rooksby. The photographs were taken by John Clark and the drawings were prepared by Mary Williamson. To find out more about propagating Australian native plants, follow up with these useful books. 

From Seeds to Leaves (1999) Doug Stewart and Robin Stewart.
Let's Propagate! A Plant Propagation Manual for Australia (1999) Angus Stewart.
Propagating Australian Plants (1995) Alec M. Blombery and Betty Maloney.
The Fern Society of Victoria Inc.
Encyclopaedia of Ferns (1987) David L. Jones.
Ferns and Allied Plants of Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia (1986) Betty D. Duncan and Golda Isaac.

No comments

Post a Comment