2016 Diary Episode 8 - Pricking Out & Potting On
The memoirs of this growers 1st attempts
Well this installment starts with the following question –
How big does the seedling have to be before you think
about pricking them out!!!!
Words of wisdom from James Evans - When the seedling gets to 6 to
8mm then it’s time to prick them out otherwise the seedlings roots
will get too big and in turn entangle with the next seedlings roots
and so on. This results in damaged seedlings when you come to the
pricking out stage.
Before our first trip in 2016 to Scotland on February I
asked Robert Nelson if he would please pick me up a couple of bags
Levingtons M2 Pot and Bedding Compost to pot my seedlings up into.
He did and they came home with us as well as a boot load of wood for
Vincent Potts and his other hobby of wood turning.
Pricking out –
Starting off information.
Sunday 13th March - Whilst picking Robert Bryce up
from his home before heading north and another great day in Scotland
he invited me into his propagating greenhouse to visibly show me how
big a seedling should be before he pricks them out. He showed me a
large and small tray with seedlings that had been pricked out from
his Moira Callan over Nichola Coates cross where the first 2
leaves were ranging
from 4 to 6mm.
After discussing this for a good 10 minutes Robert very kindly gave
me the small tray of seedlings to grow and try (see picture
to left). They were very quickly put in the boot, safely tucked
Whilst at the Scottish Begonia Society Meeting I found myself
discussing pricking out and potting on with Robert Bryce and James
Evans. They discussed what was the best method to pot them up into
after pricking out, either in open trays or cell trays –
●Robert stated the case for open trays because how easy
it is to water them. When he had used “cell trays” he found that he
missed cells that had dried out.
James Evans stated the case for cell trays because
when they were ready for potting up, all you had to do was just push
them out of the cells from below and they came out like little plug
plants. This results in no root damage. He also stated that he never
had a problem with watering them.
Conclusion - with listening to the pro’s and cons from both growers
I am going to try Jim Evans way, because I love the idea of just
pushing the plug plant out without damaging the root system before
potting up especially when that grower can be heavy handed….
So I ordered some 102 Modular cell seed trays.
Monday 28th March
The seedlings of the Moira Callan over Nichola Coates had started to
move, so I took this opportunity to get some practice in pricking
out and potting on.
But first I had to make a little tool to help me, from advice I had
been given. So a pricking out tool was made from a plant label –
1. At the bottom end of the plant label I cut a V in it, this was to
help tease the seedling and root out without causing any damage.
2. Now I used the other end of the label to backfill the cell I had
planted a seedling in.
This means that this heavy handed grower has limited the changes of
damaging the seeding.
Then I got one of the Modular seed trays and filled the number of
cells required with Everris Levington Pot and Bedding compost ready
for the seeding’s to be pricked out and potted up in their own
I teased the seedlings out one at a time and gently transplanted the
seedling and its root ball into in to a cell without causing any
The picture to the left shows the tool made and the seedlings
Wednesday 13th April –
As you can see from the picture to the right I pricked out
all my seedlings from the Joan Bryce over Tequila Sunrise cross this
evening into 1 of the 102 modular cell seed trays. The tray was then
sat in a large tray of water so water got absorbed through the
bottom of the cell tray to wet the compost in the seed tray.
Thursday 21st April –
Today I potted up the Moria Callan over Nicola Coates seedlings from
the modular cell tray into individual 3inch pots as you can see by
the picture to the left.
Tuesday 26th April –
My Joan Bryce over Tequila Sunrise cross seedlings had now starting
to move quickly now.
I was surprised at how often I had to water them as daft as it
sounds as there was no real root system yet, and this in itself
problem as the modular seed tray I was using is not exactly small so
I had to improvise a little to make a “bath” for it to sit in.
So I took a large plastic tray and then placed a large black bin bag
in the bottom so the edges of the bag came up the sides of the tray,
then I put an inch of warm in the bottom of the tray and I gently
just sat the modular seed tray in the bottom of the tray. This way the
compost in the cells just absorbs the water up from the base as you
can see by the picture E on the right.
Saturday 30th April –
Todays the day I potted up my very
first 3 own grown
seeding’s into 3 inch pots – I felt like a proud father all over
again, as you can see from the pictures to the left and
Today I also gave my seedlings a feed as per Jim Evens, a foliar
feed spray of phosphagen Additional – the x 4 species seedlings I was kindly given to me by
Samuel Kennedy on our last trip to Scotland on Sunday 10th
April have been potted up and are growing along nicely.
For the record Samuel Kennedy cross was – the seed parent B.
fischeri and the pollen parent was a red leafed red flower garden
variety of semperfloren – as he was interested to see what colour of
leaf and flower comes on the seedlings – see picture to
Sunday 15th May –
As you can see by the picture to the left today I potted
the rest of my Joan Bryce over Tequila Sunrise cross – another 60
seedlings – that’s 63 seedlings I have growing from this cross.
For the record –
If you remember my first attempts at germinating seed did not go too
well, however I never gave up.
And believe it or not I could still see bits of green in the trays
(if you look closely to the picture to the left you can see
green specs), so I thought sod it…. so with help of a magnifying
glass and a very narrow screwdriver I managed to lift 5 seedlings in
1 tray and 10 in the other and pot them in a fresh tray of compost
(again look closely to the picture to the right, however a
magnifying glass could help!!).
Which cross is what I cannot remember as the label has vanished!!!!!
However the main thing is against all the odds I will have some
seedlings of Alana Hamilton over Tom Brownlee as well as my 1st
half of the Joan Bryce over Tequila Sunrise cross.
And the moral of this story is – never give up
Next Installment – Final potting & growing on.
Until next time