DEEPOT Native Plant Starter Kit
A standard in the conservation nursery industry, DEEPOT 2.7”x7” cells are designed to maximize the root development of native plants (and the out-planting survival success of those plants). This is not a flimsy disposable plant tray, but rather a nursery plug system that can be reused for many years, with a per cell cost of a little more than $1.00 per plant.
With almost 20 square inches of root space per cell, we use this planting system for both seedling trees (native crab apples, serviceberry, hawthorns, etc.), as well as for a wide range of meadow plants – including big species like milkweed, lupines, checkermallows, cow parsnip, and even dune grass – and for native plants that produce very expansive root systems quickly like Oregon sunshine and goldenrod.
These 20-cell kits include the tray, detachable tray legs (so the entire thing can be packed away into a small space), and the removable, stackable cells.
With the suspended cells that allow for efficient drainage, we employ these kits on our farm for a lot of outdoor winter propagation by:
- Filling the cells to approximately ¾ full, with a basic 3:1 growing medium of commercial grade potting mix and sand
- Surface seeding each cell (typically with more than one seed especially for smaller plants that can grow in clumps, such as self heal)
- Covering the seeded surface of each cell with roughly ¼-inch of sand or chicken grit, as well as a scattering of Sluggo slug bait
- Placing the seeded cells outside on ground level in fall through early spring in an area with good indirect sunlight and direct periodic rainfall (bird netting is recommended if your nursery location is adjacent to shrubs or small trees)
Following this basic process, we are able to germinate most native species, with many perennials and annuals ready for out-planting the following spring. Note that slow growing plants (lilies, camas, etc) are great for propagating in these cells, but are slow growing and may benefit from remaining in the cells for multiple growing seasons to achieve a robust transplant size. Plants hold well in these cells for multiple growing seasons, but slow release fertilizer should be used for plants held in the cells for more than a single year.