The National Begonia Society



Michael Richardson's Diary  2016

National Society Cut bloom Champion 2014

Michael's 2015 Diary



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 away.
 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 individual cells. 

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 damage.
The picture to the left shows the tool made and the seedlings potted up.

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 caused a 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 right. 

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 right 

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


Michael's 2016 Diary