Begonias, Cotyledons and Transplanting

The begonias that I planted in February are ready to transplant into individual pot. They’ve had some time to grow and they now have two true leaves. I say “true leaves” because the first “leaves” that you see when plants germinate are usually cotyledons or “seed leaves.” Cotyledons are structures in the seed that store food reserves. When many seeds germinate, the cotyledons emerge from the soil and become photosynthetic. They look like leaves but they’re not leaves; they’re seed structures. The true leaves of the plant are what grow after the cotyledons have emerged and have the characteristics of the mature  plant. For example, newly germinated radish and cabbage seedlings are impossible to tell apart because the plants are related, have similar seed morphology and the cotyledons are identical. Only when the true leaves develop can you distinguish between a radish and a cabbage.

Begonia Seedings

The begonia I’m growing, is a bronze-leaved plant and the true leaves show the bronze color. When I took the plants out of the yogurt container in which they were growing and gently separated them, I could see that they were very well rooted. I moved each plant into a separate peat pot filled with soiless mix. After watering, I placed the pots back under fluorescent lights to let the begonias continue to grow.

Begonia Seedings in Peat Pots

While the  plants are still small, over the next two months they should fill out nicely. The good thing about peat pots is that come planting time, I can plant the begonia and the entire pot into the soil. This causes minimal root damage and will allow the plant to establish itself in the soil quickly with little shock to the plant.

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