Germinating Buchu
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Rick Hammond
Posted on: September 8, 1999

I have recently purchased a quantity of oval and false buchu (Agathosma crenulata and betulina) through your Australian agents Eschol Seeds. Your cataloque lists these as difficult to germinate and I was wondering if your horticulturist could give me any tips to improve my chances. I have purchased seed for a number of other herbs through Eschol and have had excellent results with all except the buchu.

We call herbs such as buchu "experimental" because they are not easy to grow. Buchu and other herbs like it require a mixture of experience and luck to grow successfully.

Buchu is difficult both to germinate and to grow on. This observation is based on our limited experience of growing it in our greenhouses. In Canada, we do not have the right conditions for growing buchu, which accounts for our limited experience with growing the plant..

Germination takes upwards of 2-3 months. Bottom heat seems to be helpful, but we have not tried growing it without bottom heat. The seedlings take weeks, even months, to discard the hard seed coats. Some seedlings do not succeed in unravelling their leaves and the seedlings perish prematurely. Scarifying the seed coats with sandpaper or a razor sharp knife is worth trying.

Buchu is a native of South Africa where it grows as a small shrub, about 60-90 centimetres high. It likely grows in well-drained, sunny, warm, dry locations. When grown in containers special attention must be paid to the water drainage, and to watering. Overwatering is a certain death knell for the plant.

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