Begonia Woes........

cugal(5b-6a NE Ks)January 28, 2014

Just sowed about 500 pelleted seeds of wax (fibrous) Ambassador F1 begonias........ I'm allowing 14-16 weeks from my LFD (May 1) for the plant out date......

Surface sown in a flat of Pro MIx BX, misted & covered.... placed under a 4' T8 2 bulb fixture (on 16 hrs/day)..... on heat mats (77F), in a germinator......

Fastforward to January 28Th........ Seeds are germinating well, but when they're placed under lights, most die. They're watered properly & media temp is 65F D/ 60F N....... Any ideas?

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art33(6)

Hi cugal,

Well, IâÂÂve never used Pro Mix BX but to the best of my knowledge itâÂÂs mostly sphagnum peat moss and contains no fertilizer. Mixes that contain a lot of peat can stay wet for a long time; make sure you're not over-watering. Also, if you havenâÂÂt added any fertilizer to the Pro Mix, that may be the reason the plants are not doing well. IâÂÂd suggest adding a good well balanced, water soluble, fertilizer. While the seedling are really small, youâÂÂll need to dilute it to about one fourth strength. Maybe check with those in the Begonia forum (see link below) to see what they suggest.

Art

Here is a link that might be useful: Begonia Forum

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:48PM
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cugal(5b-6a NE Ks)

Thanks Art for your input! Yeah, I had planned to use Fafards 3B when potting up, but failed to get that far......... Adding diluted fertilizer may help....... I'll give it a try!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:24PM
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mandolls(4)

I tried begonias for the first time last year and it was a total loss. They germinated well, a few managed to get up to the size of a dime (after a very long time) but they all eventually died. After more research I decided it was the soil mix. Begonias prefer a very coarse mix, I was using Jiffy seed starting mix. I have grown a lot of different things from seed successfully, but Begonias do have special needs.

This site is helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brads Begonia World

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:03AM
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cugal(5b-6a NE Ks)

Thanks mandolls for the link & helping me sort this thing out! My results have been the same as yours, so I guess misery loves company! ;(

rhizo_1 gave me some very sound advice when I decided to try Begonias & I've tried to follow that......... She(?) suggested starting seeds in finer media (Pro Mix) & potting up to a "barkier" mix. It's been suggested my lights might be too close (3-4") to the flats, so that's one of the things I'm looking at. My plant out date is the first week of May, so time is of the essence.....

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:54AM
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art33(6)

Hi again cugal :-)

Regarding your lights, I donâÂÂt think theyâÂÂre too close at all. In fact, IâÂÂd say most folks keep them closer than 3 or 4 inches. Those T8 bulbs donâÂÂt get hot enough to be a problem, IâÂÂve used them for years and have always kept them about 2 inches above the seedlings.

In all probability, your main problem is the growing medium. As mandolls has mentioned, begonias prefer a coarse, well drained growing medium. I think Pro Mix has too much peat moss and, as I mentioned earlier, no nutrients what-so-ever.

Regarding nutrients, some folks will advise not fertilizing seedlings until they have developed a set or two of true leaves. However, many disagree with that, including the University of Massachusetts (see link below).

Whatever corrective course you end up taking, I wish you the very best of success!

Art

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizing Seedlings

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 12:48PM
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cugal(5b-6a NE Ks)

Thanks again Art for the link & your insight! And yes, I'm inclined to agree with you about the media issue. Pro Mix retains water, staying far too damp when bottom watering..... I've potted on (the few that survived) to Fafards 3B...... We shall see!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:14PM
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