The National Begonia Society



2015 Diary

Michael Richardson

Episode 12.  Second Potting

Final Potting -
   Second Potting is the time when they go into their final pots and I also put the plant support stake in ready to tie the plant to later in the year.
Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd May – Second Potting -
   The first wave of my main tubers were potted up over the weekend of Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th March. That was one and half weeks later than I would of liked, however my homemade multi-purpose in the propagator was good enough to keep them going so they don’t look to have suffered too much. The second wave were potted up over Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th of April.
   As you can see by the picture on the left the root has hit the side of the first pot and now is ready to get moved up to their second pot. That means on average the plants have taken 5 weeks to get their feet down in the first pot.
That means in 5 weeks -
    • The tuber and root ball have come out of a lovely and warm propagator
    • Had the loose propagating medium gently shaken of the roots
    • Put into a pot with a harsh medium
        • Had to acclimatise to its new surroundings
        • And finally put root down
        • All this with Frost most nights or very low temperatures
        • Low daytime temperatures
   Considering all those factors then I cannot really complain.
   Now unlike some growers for example Terry Tasker and Ian Donaldson I cannot get all tubers and root balls in to the same size pot no matter what I do as I find every plant is different. So for this reason only, I pot up remembering how big the tuber is and the size of the root ball.
   Just inserting the plant support at this time helps to indicate the plants that have been potted up in their final pot. I don’t tie the plant to the stake for another 2 to 3 weeks.
  How do I know where to put the cane / stake in the pot; you can tell this by the way the leaves are pointing as you can see by the picture on the left. The way the leaves face is the way the flower will face 98% of the time. Place the flower support down the back of pot at a slight angle so it slants away from the back of the plant this way you will not skewer the tuber.
   However there is that 2% that can throw a curve ball your way as you can see from the picture on the right.
   There will be more about staking the plant in a later article.

First watering after final potting -
   Now I usually pot them up and leave the plant to settle then water them in the following day. The 1st watering when they have been potted up into their final pots contains Provado Ultimate Bug Killer, once the plant has taken it up it will then be protected from a number of little “nasty’s” for the near future.
Saturday 9th May -
   I checked all the vents on my main greenhouse to ensure that the mesh was still attached properly. This was to try and stop any incursions by the various types of critters which would love to dine on my beautiful and beloved plants – yes I do feel that I am at war by certain elements that fall under the watchful eye of mother-nature.

   Well its crunch time, I have run out of room and space to the point where my plants are beginning to suffer so I have no option but to –
    • Start moving the most advanced plants that I had moved into my 2nd Greenhouse to make room in my propagating greenhouse into my main greenhouse, and put my hotbox heater in there with them.
    • Move the next wave of plants that are in their second and final pots from the propagating greenhouse to my 2nd greenhouse.
    • My slow growing adults that have just been potted up into their final pots have now been stood on the hotbox and with the heat coming up off the hotbox, with a bit of luck this will push them along.
    • This will allow me to sit my potted up cuttings in my hotbox as they have suffered because I have prioritised my main plants which has had a detrimental effect on my cuttings.
    • Hopefully I can get some heat in them and pull them round.
    • My “2nd type” of cuttings will be my saviour as they will come straight out of the coir and get potted up, then sat straight into the hotbox.

Saturday 16th May –
   Approx. 7 days later the propagating greenhouse was full again and the plants where beginning to suffer from over crowing again so –
    • The second wave of plants went into my main greenhouse form my 2nd greenhouse.
    • Then I moved the third wave of plants out of the propagating greenhouse and into my 2nd greenhouse.
    • At last I can get more potted up cuttings into my hotbox and onto some bottom heat.

Sunday 17th May -
   I sprayed all my plants a precautionary spray of Fungus Clear Ultra that will protect my plants from Mildew – Also this spray will not cause any damage to the plants themselves.

Monday 18th May –
   Well there is nothing else I can do now but watch them grow, and just water when necessary and rub out any side shoots that are thrown by the plant.
The near future by the numbers-
    • 19th May to 26th June ( 26th June to Friday 14th August is 50 days to the National Show) that’s 38 days or 5 weeks 3 days until I start securing the bud.
    • By the first week in June my plants will have been in their final pots for a good x5 weeks and at this point I will be looking at feeding them with Calcium Nitrate.
    • A Calcium Nitrate feed in the first week of June will be a good 2 weeks before I start to secure buds.
    • This takes into account varieties like Tequila Sunrise or Tom Brownlee that I will look at securing the bud at 55 days – due to the time it takes for these varieties to open properly.

The big cutting enigma of 2014 update –
  Well to my utter amazement a shoot has appeared from out of nowhere, when I “wiggle” the original stem the new shoot does not move. Hence it has greatly raised my hopes for a belated cutting tuber being formed. However that has not stopped me taking every new shoot and leaf from off the original stem for cutting material.

Contentious Corner Part 2 – yes its back, probably not by public demand….
Issue 5 -
   I cannot understand why growers would only start their tubers part buried with the top part still exposed above the top of the medium. When you put your tubers in you should not be worried about the pips forming as they will come on their own accord, what we need first is the roots to appear and grow. The root system should come from all over the tubers exterior surface apart from where the old stems have been de-scabbed.
   So when you only part bury your tuber you are in my opinion handicapping it at a crucial stage of its development – as at this time of the year we want a great root system – trust me the pips will come when they are ready.
   If you are of a “fidgety disposition“ and want to check the top of your tuber – all I do is get a children’s paintbrush and just gently brush the medium off the top of the tuber to see if the pips / buds are coming.
Issue 6 –
   Mixing different types of medium – Why!!!!!
I am surprised I left it to “Issue 6” but I have to say something – Why complicate things and mix Multi-purpose with a John Innes mix – Again in my humble opinion I honestly don’t understand what you are gaining it’s as simple as 1-2-3 -
   1. Hotbox / Propagator filled with multi –purpose
   2. First potting is with a John Innes No2 mix
   3. Second potting is in John Innes No2 mix again.
I will be so bold as saying using Multi-purpose compost again in your first potting up is taking a backward step as I want my roots to work for a living; that is how I get the roots I have been searching for.
I do know some growers grow in M2 or M3 but they are not mixing a multi-purpose and Johns Innes mix, my late great friend and travelling compadre Les Smith used to mix an M2 & M3 together to make an M2.5 – and this worked for him until he saw the light and went into a straight Johns Innes No2.
Issue 7 –
   Perlite being used in your first & second potting - I stopped adding perlite 5 years ago when I had a “light bulb moment” when it dawned on me that perlite holds water so this was having an adverse effect at the end of the year when I was trying to “dry” my plants out. As perlite holds water, so technically it was fighting me in trying to dry the plants out.
So I decided that I did not want any perlite in my main plants so I stopped using it totally.
    • In my hotbox I use sharp sand mixed in my multi-purpose
    • First potting – x1 part grit sand to x2 parts 4mm Alpine grit
    • Second potting – x1 part grit sand to x2 parts 4mm Alpine grit
    • Taking cuttings I use coir only
    • I pot my cuttings up using my homemade multi-purpose containing grit sand.
So by doing the following I think is one of the main reasons why I do not suffer with many tuber losses at the end of the year / start of the next.
   • Not using perlite
   • Double scabbing my tubers where required (as already highlighted in a previous article)
   • Using Sublime of Sulphur (as already highlighted in a previous article)
If I lose more than x3 adult tubers I am distraught!!!!! – So they must be something in the above statement.

Until next time….


Michael Richardson's Diaries 2015