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I have them on a heat mat in my basement, with florescent lighting directly over head. I had them covered with a plastic dome, then I understood they germinate at about 68 degrees, so I took the top off, then the top started to dry out, so I sprayed it to keep in moist.
Currently I have the plastic top back on, but with one end propped open with a clothes peg, trying to moderate for moisture and heat (basement is actually quite cold - maybe 52 or so degrees.
Meantime, I am concerned that I have, overheated, underheated, and possibly may have dried these teensy bits of dust.
On the other hand, I may simply be overly anxious. I only started them about 2 weeks ago.
Should I persevere? My basement is quite cold, so should I put the tops down at night? Or will the heat mats really keep the surface soil 20 degrees warmer than the surrounding air?
I think you should keep them on the heat mat, with the top on. I often poke a few little holes in my top or prop it open as you've done. If you're concerned about the flat getting too warm, you can always check the temp with a thermometer (you might be able to find a cheap little one by the guppies at WalMart). The heat mats are supposed to raise the temp 15-20 degrees above ambient temperature, and I'm guessing the colder it is to start with the less efficiently the mats work... like if the room is 45 degrees, the mat might raise it to 60, but if it's 65 degrees, it could raise it to 85.
Since the seeds won't need the fluorescent lights until they germinate, you might consider bringing the flat upstairs where it's (presumably) warmer if you think the seeds aren't getting enough warmth. I've found that a lot of seeds with recommended germination temps around 70 degrees germinate very nicely when I set my heat mat controller to 78.
begonias are a pain to germinate. You need to watch them very very carefully. You wil think there is nothign growing but they wil have there cotyledons out and and maybe even a first set of leave s and be only a 1/16th of a inch tall.
I hate when i have to sow begonias for the trial gardens. They take usually about two weeks to come up and takes them about 20 + weeks until they eveven big enough to start flowering. I start them in small seed trays in a baggy and oput them on the table and under lights for 24/7 for sevral weeks and at the end of week one start checkign the baggy everyday with a magnifiying glas s to se e if they have sprouted. I did not use bottom heat at all. Just room temp of 78-80F and the top light.
I sure experienced the over/under heat thing as well. To get around that, I put the heat mat on a timer, and it really has worked well for maintaining an average temp without the waffling on hot or not! The timer I have is 48 hour timer, meaning I can set it on and off 48 times, or every half hour...
I also have a towel in between the heater and the tray to help disperse some of the heat.
Next, I'm wondering if you have used a solution other than plain water to help the seeds germinate. I'm not too familiar with Begonia seeds, but with most of my seeds I will mix up Some Liquid Seaweed, Vitamin B and Messenger with a drop of Hydrogen Peroxide per gallon- I'm not sure if Begonia seeds get soaked..but some folks soak the seeds in the solution, or for me- I put extra perlite in the seed mix, so I pour the solution on the perlite and let it sit (not that it soaks it up, but it is nice and wet...) then I mix it in the seed potting solution...and plant the seeds. It took I planted seeds late monday night and sprouts started on wednesday morning. I do have the seed tray inside, on a desk in front of a window. Hydrogen peroxide helps deliver oxygen to the seeds and sprouts, particularly valuable if the trays seem a bit damp...too dry..to. damp...too hot...too cool!
Even though the seeds are planted you might still try a seaweed on the seeds from the water tray. Now if for some reason Begonias have different needs, I'm sure someone will set the record straight on that.
Constant temperature will help the germination process...
Lorraine. Ya sowed them and put them out side? They are an annual unles s ya bring them inside, so not really sure if they gonna be viable or not. depends on how cold it gonna get in your area I guess. I know some of the common cultivars liek ya find at walmart and such they wil reseed themselves and a few wil come up if protect d from too severe of a cold.
. . .so I should put the plastic cover back on? I mean the basement is quite chilly, but with the lights on and the heating pad going, the flat seems to get very warm, and I am afraid I am cooking the seeds! - But on the other hand, the basement is quite chilly, so I compromise by keeping the plastic lid propped open. Maybe I don't have it warm enough. sigh . . . I really want these!
Thanks for all your good advice, I really do appreciate it.
The nice thing is - if I do get these to germinate, why I can keep the tubers over the winter and not have to strart from scratch again!
Starlight is right. Begonia's are not an easy seed to start. I've gotten few
started - maybe 10% success rate. And I almost threw away the pot thinking
it was too long but forgot and sure enough, got a seedling long after I'd started
T&M said 60days right? I'd give it at least that. And yes - you can store the
tubers over the winter. Just be sure to keep them moist. I lost them last year
'cause I treated them like I did my cana's and dahlias.
Got a themometor in yoru house. see how hot the soil is. I always germinate din baggies and used a seed starting mix that was just barely damp, more dry than anything and witht the top lights it create d plenty of moisture in there to germinate them. if they too hot with the heatign pad and light you may get too much moisture and then have them croak on ya. When the humidty in th ebags would build up bad so I couldnt see insid ethe bag I would vent it just a tiny bit, so you may want to keep your lid cracke d just a tiny bit, just watch your tray stays just moist enough to touch that ya can tell it fells like it had been lightly misted.
If they not up in thre e weeks they aint coming up and ya start over again. Even when they come up they gonna sit there and sit there and sit there. They grow like a turtle runs. Slowwwwwwww!
Seandor, I just saw this question and I had really good luck last year with begonias -- my first try. I just now sowed some that PamSue sent me, but they are the Dragonwing kind, so I'm not sure how applicable my methods are to what you are sowing.
I used a flat deli container and lid. The lid has a dozen holes poked in it, likewise the container itself for drainage. I sowed the pelleted seed on wam, wet potting soil, misted, and put the lid on and put it all on a heat mat. The heat mat has no thermostat (from Park's seed -- expensive mat, but cheaply made!) so I can't tell you. They say it keep things 10 degrees above ambiant temperature, but it seems warmer thn that to me. My basementis 60 degrees in winter...can dip lower or be higher, but hovers around 60.
Begonia seeds can actually be fairly easy to germinate-in that its the same process as most other seeds. I keep mine on top of the soil-definitely don't cover these! I use warm water to mist and cover totally with plastic, no holes in the cover or you allow moisture to escape. I uncover and mist everyday or so, depending on how wet the top of the soil is. They usually start germinating within 7 days or so, and when I see over 50% of the tray germinated, then I take the plastic off and mist twice a day to prevent the ungerminated seeds from drying out. After a week like that, then I just water/or mist once a day. Its all about the warmth of the soil as to how fast begonia seeds germinate.
I treat dragonwing begonia seeds the same as the others
Now I get it! The seed packet said not to cover - but I thought that meant the plastic cover; it never occurred to me that anyone would actually try to cover such tiny seeds with soil. I may have to buy some new seeds . . . since I may not have kept these warm and moist enough. . .sigh.