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What is Plant Tissue Culture?

What is Plant Tissue Culture?

Limonium ‘Tessa Lavender’ grown and photographed by Moonshot Farm


What is Tissue Culture, and why are TC plugs so expensive!? 

PhD botanist Alex Rajewski defines tissue culture as "a laboratory technique to propagate plants from small amounts of starting tissue. Often used to create large numbers of identical plants for sale... or as a way to propagate infertile plants or seeds."

Tissue samples from the ideal plant chosen for propagation are collected first. Lab workers use these tissues to induce callus, a mass of undifferentiated tissue capable of producing many other tissue types, on sterile nutrient media.  Much in the same way clumps of perennials are divided, the callus clumps are divided and transferred to new plates of media. Shoots are induced with phytohormone Benzyldenine, then Indole acetic acid is added to induce rooting. The resulting plant babies are genetic clones with all of the superior qualities of the parent. 

Statice ‘Tessa Purple’ (pictured above) was grown from a Farmer Bailey tissue culture plug by Rebecca Kutzer-Rice of Moonshot Farm, who also took the photograph. Your florists will know what tissue culture Statice (Limonium sinuatum) is, but until now it has been hard for smaller American growers to track it down.

These superior Statice strains are vegetatively propagated using tissue culture techniques rather than grown from seed. Why? Because they are bigger, taller, fuller flowered, and FAR more productive than seed-grown strains. When happy, you can expect up to 50 marketable stems per plant, depending on growing conditions. The higher price per plug compared to seed grown strains is offset by the volume and quality of blooms each plant produces. 

Statice needs good drainage and a couple of weeks below 45F to initiate buds, and then it will flower much of the summer with remarkable productivity. 

Many thanks to Alex Rajewski for giving us permission to share his Plant Tissue Culture Infographic, originally created for the American Society of Plant Biologists blog, Plantae. 

Plant Tissue Culture Infographic by Alex Rajewski

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