Germinating the seeds
Germination is similar to Begonia seeds (not tropical, terrarium Begonias), so if you have grown them successfully from seed, you may use the same technique that worked for you.
Getting started -- Use about 6 to 10 small pots or cups with drainage holes that are 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) tall.
Use a well-draining soil. A typical soil mix for germinating them is 3 parts potting soil to 2 parts perlite or coarse sand. An alternate mix is equal parts of coir fiber (or peat moss) and perlite.
The seeds are very small, so work in a well-lit area. Sprinkle several seeds evenly across the surface of each pot. An easy way to pick up the seeds is by breathing on your finger tip to lightly moisten it, then dabbing the seeds with it.
If you have long-fiber sphagnum moss (not ground peat moss), sprinkle a little over the surface. This helps retain moisture around the seeds while allowing light to reach them, which aids germination. This photo shows how much moss to use. If you don't have sphagnum moss, sprinkle some of your soil mix over the surface. Then add water until everything is evenly moist.
Until the seeds sprout, ensure that the soil surface never dries out. A good way to maintain high humidity is by enclosing the pots in a plastic container or bag. Leave it open a crack to let in fresh air. Once or twice a day, drip a few drops of water on the surface to keep it moist.
The best temperature for germination is between 68-75 degrees F (2-24°C) during the day, and 64-70°F (18-21°C) at night. Avoid letting them above 77 degrees F (25°C). I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots, especially if using a heating mat.
The seeds need light to germinate, so place the containers in a very bright spot out of direct sun. A fluorescent bulb kept 4 inches (10 cm) above them provides the right amount of light. Give at least 12 hours of bright light per day.
The seeds should start sprouting in about 3 weeks, but may take longer at cooler temperatures. Once they sprout, continue dripping water on the soil surface daily the first month, since young seedlings have a small root system. A week after they sprout, open the plastic container or bag slightly more, to allow a little more air circulation.
When the seedlings are a month old, you may remove the plastic container and carefully pull them and transplant them, however i recommend simply cutting off any slower ones, and leaving 1 strong seedling in each pot.
Fertilizing -- Once they are a week old, give a very light dose of liquid fertilizer (about 1/8 strength), and repeat once a week. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for young seedlings, since it is easily absorbed and complete. Once they are 3 months old, you may switch to an ordinary granular fertilizer, feeding about every 2-3 months.
On older plants, it's normal for an older leaf to occasionally turn yellow and drop, but if it seems excessive, the plant may need more nitrogen fertilizer. The soil could also be too dry down in the root zone.
Watering -- Once the seedlings are a month old, you may allow the soil surface to dry between waterings, but keep the rest of the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).
Lighting -- The plant likes part sun, and will probably need protection from strong afternoon sun.
Transplanting -- When the seedlings are 2-3 months old, repot to a larger container about 1 quart (1 liter) in size. Repot gently to avoid damaging the root hairs. Protect from direct sun the first week after repotting.
Climate -- The plant grows well in mild daytime temperatures and cool but frost-free nights. Little is known about its climate tolerances, but it's possible that it might not thrive if temperatures consistently get above 85° F (29°C) and nights are warm. It probably cannot survive below about 28° F (-2°C). Indoors, keep the humidity above about 40-45%, perhaps with the use of an ultrasonic humidifier if necessary.
If you have any questions or problems, please email me.
Have fun growing them!
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