Knobloch's Greenhouse
1873 Dipper Ave.
Alvord, IA  51230
(712) 473-2293

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« 10 Years in the "New Store"! | Main | growing, Growing, GROWING »

New Life!

The addition of this blog section to our website was one of Beth's naturally, after she got sick, this page rather went by the wayside. There's no better way to start back at it than a post about the start & growth of new life!

As we do get asked, we actually don't get to vacation all winter (although we won't complain about our family trip to Hawaii over Christmas break!). The start of the new year also brings the start of Spring at Knobloch's. That's right, in order to have flowers ready for you once the weather warms up, we begin the growing cycle during the snowy months of January & February. It is also common to get asked how we start all of the plants we sell, so here's a peak behind-the-scenes...

We'll begin with starting seeds.
The seeds are sown into different sized plug trays, typically ranging from 84 to 512 cells (holes) per tray:

Our seed machine uses a vacuum system. When the seeds are dumped onto the tray, there are lots of tiny pin-holes (that conveniently are spaced perfectly to match the cells of the plug trays) and when the machine is turned on, the vacuum sucks air in thru the holes - so as the seeds roll around on the tray, they are sucked onto the holes and held in place:

When there is one seed stuck to each tiny hole, the machine is filled over on top of the waiting plug tray. When the vacuum force is released, the seeds fall directly into each cell on the plug tray:


Although Brett spends many hours seeding, it is an efficient way to start thousands of plants.

Now for the method of propogation that many are not as familiar with: cuttings. As plants are cross-bred to create all of the cool new colors and patterns, it is easier and often necessary to use pieces (cuttings) of that plant to create additional plants just like it (vs. harvesting seed).

Each cutting is a few leaves on a stem that are cut off the tips of the mother plant. In a few months' time, this tiny thing will be a big, blooming petunia in a hanging basket!

The cuttings are shipped in from warm, sunny winter climates - mainly Central America. Due to being in transit for a day or two before reaching NW Iowa, the cuttings are first rehydrated in a water solution:

Then each tiny cutting is very gently stuck into soil in a plug tray:

The trays of cuttings are kept in a special room with about 95% humidity. The high humidity keeps the leaves moist to keep the plant alive until it grows roots. Most plants have sufficient roots to be moved to the greenhouse after a week or two. Pretty amazing!

As the seeds germinate and the cuttings take root, the greenhouses begin to fill up: 

The process of sowing seeds and sticking cuttings happens repeatedly during the months of January and February. While the seeding will continue into April, we are now getting ready to move on to the next phase: transplanting! Our first step will be hanging baskets which are ready and waiting...


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