Start Plants Inside with Grow Lights
It is not hard to start your own plants inside if you have a greenhouse or have some grow lights. Although it is possible to start a few plants in a south-facing window, you really need some supplemental light to grow good quality plants. You should also have planting soil mix, a heating mat, trays and pots and a clear plastic dome.
If you want to grow 50 plants or less you can find a small grow light with stand for less than $100. A heating mat, tray, pots and plastic dome would be $50 or less.
Sometimes you can find combination kits with everything for $100 or less.
You can probably find everything you need from a local nursery or garden store. Johnnyseeds.com is a good on line source for grow lights and growing supplies as well as an excellent source for seeds.
If you want to grow more than 50 plants or produce larger plants or plants from cuttings, I would recommend a more expensive lighting system. HID and LED lights are more energy efficient and produce higher intensity light. They also offer a spectrum of light which is closer to outdoor light. These lights with a cooling fan start at under $200. A number of sources are available on line if you search “plant grow lights”.
A heating mat is necessary to keep soil temperature at 70 degrees or higher for best seed germination and rooting of cuttings. A clear dome or cover traps the moisture around the plants and is very important for starting cuttings. Peat pellets, peat pots, cell trays and soil blocks make transplanting easier without root shock.
Growing plants from cuttings is not difficult. Most annual and perennial flowers can be easily started from cuttings. In fact almost as many flower plants are started commercially by cuttings as seeds nowadays.
I often purchase one or a few plants of a favorite variety early in the season and grow a dozen or more plants from cuttings off the original plants. I have done this with geraniums, petunias, verbena, several perennials and several ground cover plants.
Simply cut off stems with 3 or more leaves, trim just below the lowest leaf, remove the bottom leaf and place cuttings in soil mix. Cover with a clear dome or clear plastic and use a heating mat for faster rooting. Transplant to individual containers as soon as a few roots form.
It is important to harden plants outside a few days before transplanting. I usually start putting plants outside in March or April. Cool daytime temperature combined with warm night temperature makes plants stockier and more compact.