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Beautiful Begonias! by Maman Wilson

Maman Wilson
Maman Wilson

Begonias, I think are some of the most beautiful flowers in the flower kingdom. I guess it is a matter of opinion, of course! There are many varieties of flower to choose from but essentially, there are three main types. They require different climates or growing conditions.

Tuberous begonias need cool conditions but some humidity in the summer. Here in New Zealand they grow really well in shade houses or in shaded spots in the garden. I buy some when they are just starting to flower and at the end of the season plant it outside in a shady but warm spot. The plants come up again with their lovely flowers every year.

I have both bedding and Rex Begonias growing well in a sheltered side of the house all year round.

Buying the tubers for the tuberous begonias, choose to purchase the biggest ones. In begonias, size definitely matters. The reason is the biggest tubers produce more and better flowers.

The tubers have a concave top (sinks in) and this is the way to plant. Plant in the late winter or early spring as the tubers are still dormant at this time. A rule of thumb when planting these is plant at twice the depth of the size of the tuber (thickness). Planted in ordinary good quality potting mix will be fine.

Bedding begonias have fibrous roots. Bedding begonias grow from a very fine seed planted in seed boxes. The growing medium should be kept damp but not wet until the seedlings appear. They are pricked out and transplanted into trays to allow them to grown on to be 5-7 cms high. At this stage that I also find them easy to grow and move around the garden from plantlets that have roots on them.
Plant them in the garden once they have reached this size. Like all plants, they appreciate feeding with a liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.

Leaf cuttings can be taken from the larger leaf begonias like the Rex. Cuttings taken are handy replacements for your garden or for giving away to other gardeners.

Cut undamaged leaves from the parent plant using a clean sharp knife, make a hole in the propagating mix and insert the cut stalk with the leaf almost flat. Press firmly but gently into the mix and water. Make sure all equipment is clean to avoid any infective substances or disease affecting your cuttings. Always allow enough time for the cuttings to grow roots. It is usually evident in that the leaf does not shrivel and die, or new shoots become visible.

Begonias maybe affected by a powdery mildew, whitish powdery look on the leaves. Plants are treated with a fungicide that you can buy from garden centers or these days from the supermarket.

The taller growing tree begonias with their colored leave and delicate flowers are great for narrow spaces. These grow to between 1-2 meters tall and are known as Angel wing begonias. Enjoy these lovely plants, shame they are only perennials!

Maman is a sixty plus liberated woman despite having a husband and four children.
She trained as a nurse and remains interested in health issues. Spent many years farming achieving farm management qualifications and a real insight into animal husbandry. A lifetime of gardening including growing commercially has provided a real love of plants and knowledge of the plant kingdom.
The next career change included a Diploma in Real Estate and business management, covering buildings and their construction.
Growing older then included some time in the hospitality industry and business.

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