Before we repair our glasshouses we want to make sure there are plants to put in them when they are fixed. Not all the big plants will live when we move them. It will be hard to keep plants that are planted terrestrially (planted in the ground, not in pots) alive. We have taken cuttings from these plants and are growing clones of them. This is a process called propagation. By cloning these plants we keep their DNA. They might be a little smaller, but they are still the same plant.

Four Tamarind seedlings in small black pots on a wooden bench.
Tamarind seedlings in "Prop"

There is a special part of the Garden which we call “Prop”. Right now “Prop” is a little bit like a lifeboat. It is full of the cuttings and seedlings that will go in our new glasshouse. When they start off the cuttings have no roots and cannot get water from the soil. It is important to make sure that the cuttings do not dry out so they are grown inside plastic boxes that let light in and stop water from leaving until their roots grow.

We are also using “Prop” to grow seedlings of plants that have died over the last few years. There used to be a beautiful tamarind tree in the Tropical Corridor and when we reopen the glasshouse we want to bring it back. The plant is dead which means we cannot take a cutting. Instead, we are growing new tamarinds from seeds. These plants will grow for the two years that it will take to fix the glasshouse and then the best ones will be added to the collection.

To help people learn about propagation we are moving “Prop” as part of our Glasshouse Restoration project. Right now “Prop” is off-limits to visitors. When we have finished the project they will be able to go inside and see all the seedlings and cuttings that keep the Garden full of plants.