Connect with us

Thai Life

The delicate process of starting plants from seed

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Just over a year ago, part of this column was about cultivating your own flowers. Time to go into a bit more detail. The easiest way to grow plants for your garden is to use seeds. They can be obtained from large supermarkets such as Tesco, a few garden centers, or from specialist retail outlets. One of these shops is on the old airport road going north from Phuket Town, a few hundred yards before ‘SuperCheap’. In Phuket, the range of packeted vegetable seeds is good, the range of flowers less so. Take care to observe the instructions on the packet.

Of course, you can always use your own seeds. The easiest to get are from annuals such as zinnias, gomprenas, African marigolds or cosmos daisies. Indeed, these will readily self-sow if left to their own devices. Before man upset the apple-cart, seeds were solely distributed by wind, water or via the innards of birds and animals. Not any more….

After plants have finished flowering, seed heads or fruits form. These should be collected only when they are dry, and the seeds are beginning to fall away. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the seed, the bigger will be the end product. So seeds vary in size from the microscopic seeds of orchids, through the pea or bean-sized fruits of the legume family, to the substantial “stones” of the vetianas and avocados. These big stones should only be taken from over-ripe fruit.

However you come by your seeds, remember that once sown, they should be cosseted. Opinions vary as to which is the best sowing medium, but it should be relatively low in nutrients, and porous enough to allow the delicate initial rootlets to develop. Initially, seedlings will feed off the food in the seed itself. So straight top soil is likely to be too strong, and also too prone to contain pests. Sterile compost mixed with coconut fiber and river sand is probably ok for most small seeds. Succulents must have sand: cacti will not survive without silicates in the mix.


Choose clean plastic pots or trays. Dirty ones are liable to harbor disease. Pots are best since they do not dry out so quickly. And seedlings will not survive bone-dry conditions for long. Plant just below the surface for small seeds, about one to two centimeters for bigger seeds. Larger seeds (such as those of cannas) will germinate more rapidly if they are soaked in water for a couple of days, or if the tough skin is scratched or scarified. The potting mix should be moist but not saturated. If possible, apply water from below. This will avoid the twin possibilities of washing the tiny seedlings out of the soil, or of drowning them with over-liberal use of the watering can.

Place your seeds in a place where there is plenty of light, but little or no direct sunlight – at least initially. Water sparingly, look out for predators such as ants, and check for wilt or “damping off” which is caused by a fungus. If you can, use a weak solution of fungicide to prevent “damping off”. Once the secondary or real leaves appear, move the pots to a position where they will get some sun.

Finally, treat the young seedlings with care when you finally plant them outside. Never hold them by the stem (which is very tender); instead hold them by a leaf when you place them in position. Losing a leaf is not a disaster; crushing the stem is… And don’t expect perfect results. Homegrown seeds may produce genetically regressive offspring.

Shrubs and trees are less often propagated by seeds. The commonest and easiest method is to use cuttings (sometimes referred to as “striking”) from the parent plant. Not all shrubs will respond to the method, but a few basics apply. Cut your slip below a node (growing point) at a sharp angle. Cuttings are normally ten to twenty centimeters long, but will need to be bigger for large shrubs or trees. Bury the cutting three or four centimeters deep in a mix of soil and sand (to increase permeability), or even start it in water with a mild dose of fertilizer.

If you can, dip the cutting in rooting hormone before you plant it. Of course, you may prefer to plant the cutting directly in the garden, but remember to keep it moist, and if you use a pot (preferred), place it in partial shade.Then wait for the shoots to appear.

If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured you can email me at: Further information about this gardening series and Patrick’s other work can be accessed at:

— Patrick Campbell


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)55 mins ago

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to be donated to Thailand from Japan

Bangkok1 hour ago

Bangkok police warn that protests planned for Thursday break the Emergency Decree

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Hotel occupancy, Phuket beaches hit with tar balls, doctor ‘warning’ | June 21

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Thailand2 hours ago

Pattaya residents complain of sinkholes in road, couple sustains injuries

Insurgency2 hours ago

2 suspected insurgents killed in gunfire exchange with police-military team

Best of2 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Hua Hin

Thailand3 hours ago

Army raids a house, arrests 53 as part of alleged gambling operation

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Insurance Companies for Expats in Thailand

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand abstains from vote on UN resolution condemning Myanmar violence

Leisure3 hours ago

Top 5 Rooftop Bars in Bangkok

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Shabu-Shabu Restaurants in Bangkok

Indonesia3 hours ago

Indonesia approaches 2 million Covid cases

Thailand4 hours ago

Monday Covid Update: 3,175 new cases; infections rise in the Deep South

Pollution4 hours ago

Oil slick and ‘tar balls’ wash up on Phuket’s beaches – what caused it?

Best of4 hours ago

Top 5 Ice Cream Shops in Bangkok

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8