Plant propagation is the process which grows new plants from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, and other plant parts. Plant propagation can also refer to the man-made or natural dispersal of seeds.
Seeds and spores can be used for reproduction (through e.g. sowing). Seeds are typically produced from sexual reproduction within a species, because genetic recombination has occurred. A plant grown from seeds may have different characteristics from its parents. Some species produce seeds that require special conditions to germinate, such as cold treatment. The seeds of many Australian plants and plants from southern Africa and the American west require smoke or fire to germinate. Some plant species, including many trees, do not produce seeds until they reach maturity, which may take many years. Seeds can be difficult to acquire and some plants do not produce seed at all. Some plants (like certain plants modified using genetic use restriction technology) may produce seed, but not fertile seed. In certain cases, this is done to prevent the accidental spreading of these plants, for example by birds and other animals.
Plants have a number of mechanisms for asexual or vegetative reproduction. Some of these have been taken advantage of by horticulturists and gardeners to multiply or clone plants rapidly. Humans may utilize these processes as propagation methods, such as tissue culture and grafting. Plants are produced using material from a single parent and as such there is no exchange of genetic material, therefore vegetative propagation methods almost always produce plants that are identical to the parent. Vegetative reproduction uses plants parts such as roots, stems and leaves.
In some plants seeds can be produced without fertilization and the seeds contain only the genetic material of the parent plant. Therefore, propagation via asexual seeds or apomixis is asexual reproduction but not vegetative propagation.
Techniques for vegetative propagation include:
This can be in the form of a clear enclosed bin sitting over a hotpad, or even a portable heater pointed at the bin. The key is to keep the moisture in the clear bin, while keeping lighting over the top of it, usually.
Seed propagation mat
An electric seed-propagation mat is a heated rubber mat covered by a metal cage which is used in gardening. The mats are made so that planters containing seedlings can be placed on top of the metal cage without the risk of starting a fire. In extreme cold, gardeners place a loose plastic cover over the planters/mats which creates a sort of miniature greenhouse. The constant and predictable heat allows people to garden in the winter months when the weather is generally too cold for seedlings to survive naturally. When combined with a lighting system, many plants can be grown indoors using these mats.
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