Thursday, February 26, 2009


I have become completely enamored of the possibilities intrinsic in micropropagation. In our cut flower operation, we have several Leucospermum (also known as pincushions) that Rob raised from seed gathered during a trip to South Africa. Each of these plants is a genetically unique individual. Our crown jewel is a plant we’ve named Coraline for the beautiful, large coral-tinted inflorescences that she bears in wild profusion each year.

There is no other plant in the world exactly like her.

I want more plants like her as she is also unique in the cut flower world and an economic advantage for our farm. To accomplish this, I am turning to a technique known as micropropagation. Micropropagation allows me to take cell samples from one of Coraline’s growing tips and produce multiple juvenile copies of the plant.

There are “recipes” to be followed for different plant varieties and between the different plant families. These recipes describe the growth media used to support the cells during each stage of growth prior to the propagule being transplanted into pots. As far as I know at this time, no one has published a micropropagation recipe for Proteaceae. Part of the work ahead of us will be to derive or develop such a recipe. [Update: Found 1 recipe]

With the weird Californian winter weather this year, now is the time to collect the plant material I will need. I will take pictures of this process and document it over the next several months.


For those interested in trying this out at home or who are just curious:
How-To videos and home kits

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