There are four of us in the group and we each have our own topic of which mine is seldom know by those not in the greenhouse business. Unlike the other topics of seeding, cutting and grafting, my part of the presentation is on micropropagation.
Micropropagation is a very interesting form of propagation in which small sections of plants are placed into a solution of agar (a gel-like substance) and nutrients required for plant growth. The plants callus when they are cut and these callused tissues then have the potential to produce roots. The roots form and the plant grows to the point where it is sizable enough to be grown in a greenhouse. These are then moved out into a field or potted up and sold.
Often the plants are grown to a point where they are only a few inches tall. From there they are cut up and the small pieces are placed into the growing solution again and allowed to grow. This means that from one small portion of a plant, hundreds to thousands of plants can be produced by running them through this cycle over and over.
So why use micropropagation, the answer is quite simple, it is a great way to propagate plant which are otherwise difficult to propagate. In fact, many orchids are propagated this way along with many cultivars. The only downside to micropropagation is the cost it takes to perform. The workstation must be perfectly sterile and no contamination can occur throughout the process since the growing solution is so high in nutrients that any bacteria would thrive and compete with the plants if they were introduced. This means that air filters and sterilizing sprays must be used and the tools must be constantly washed and replaced.
However, the mass production and small plant requirements to start the process make it very worthwhile for many plants and greenhouses all over have been using this method for years!! One such nursery is Nourse Farms who put together this video describing the process. Take A Look!!