- Loam is the most important ingredient as it provides a natural reservoir of plant foods, trace elements and contains some organic matter which releases nitrogen slowly to the plant. The loam in J. Arthur Bower's John Innes is screened and sterilised to avoid any soil-borne diseases and insects.
- The sphagnum moss peat in John Innes compost improves both the aeration and water-retaining capicity, which enables the compost to make maximum use of the nutrients and trace elements in fertilisers.
- Lime-free grit sand is included to allow excess water to drain from the compost and so prevent waterlogging. It also adds weight and provides stability for pot grown plants.
- Ground horticultural-grade limestone is added to give the compost the pH most plants prefer. For lime-hating plants choose John Innes Ericaceous instead.
- The compound fertiliser in John Innes provides the wide spectrum of plant nutrients needed for healthy growth. These include nitrogen for leafy growth, phosphates for root development, potash for flowering and fruiting and trace elements for colour and flavour.
Fill the seed tray or pot and firm gently to just below the rim, then water with a fine rose and sow seeds thinly and evenly. Leave small seeds uncovered but cover larger seeds thinly and water again. Cover the tray of pot with glass or clear plastic and shade with newspaper - keep in a warm, shaded place until seeds germinate. Once germinated, remove covering and move into a lighter position and water as necessary - being cautious not to saturate the soil.
Fill the pot and insert cuttings, spaced so that the leaves do not touch. Gently firm the compost around the cuttings and water in using a fine rose. To maintain humidity fit a plastic bag or dome cover over the pot or place in a propagation unit. Keep in a warm well-lit place, out of direct sunlight and water when the cover looks dry or if cuttings wilt.