When faced with the choice between purchasing a tray of seedlings or a packet of seeds, the average South African garden enthusiast would probably not hesitate to opt for the former. Certainly, the initial cost of stocking your beds in this fashion is likely to be a little higher but once you take into account the effort and frustrations that so often accompany attempts to grow mature plants from seeds, it is a small price to pay. Mother Nature’s ability in this endeavour is not easily matched by man’s efforts as she need pay no heed to the huge number of failures that invariably accompany each impressive success.
For the commercial grower, the only practical route to success lies in effectively eliminating the randomness of nature, providing the ideal balance of plant nutrients, moisture, warmth and light in a controlled environment. Only by providing the optimum conditions for the germination and growth of healthy seedlings and minimising the proportion of failures is a commercial operation able to remain viable. For the consumer, this means enjoying the benefit of a young plant that is sufficiently well established to ensure that it will thrive when replanted in the prescribed conditions and cared for in the manner recommended.
During the early developmental stages these tiny growths are especially vulnerable to attack by all manner of common garden pests such as slugs, snails and cutworm. As a result, the grower must also implement whatever measures may be needed to protect them, a process that requires constant observation and prompt action.
In some cases, a nursery may actually undertake the process of manual fertilisation in order to better control the quality of seed production. Others may choose to experiment with cross-pollination techniques in an attempt to produce new hybrids whose seedlings may then display some beneficial or desirable characteristic. Propagation from cuttings with the aid of hormone-based agents that serve to promote root formation is another effective, if somewhat more exacting technique by which healthy specimens may be produced by expert commercial growers such as our Windy Willows nursery in Honeydew.
The public demand for plants in this format which, incidentally, may also be referred to as plugs, is always very high. As a result, we now offer almost all of our 100 most popular species as plugs. These include numerous varieties of groundcovers for which this format renders them ideal for mass planting and thus particularly appropriate for projects such as new townhouse or office developments where it is often desired to create an established look as quickly as possible.
Plugs are particularly suitable where mass planting of groundcovers or grasses make the planting of bagged plants somewhat costly. Planting 300 agapanthus on a pavement could cost close to two thousand rand if 1L plants are used. Planting 300 agapanthus plugs would save two thirds of the cost.
Whether you want some expert landscaping advice, exotic species from distant shores, mature trees or anything from a single tray to a bakkie-load of high quality seedlings from agapanthus to asparagus, Windy Willows offers them all.