Author: Rebecca Hornsby and Anne Rowell

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014 at 9:25 am
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Pick A Plant

Beautiful Begonias

Flowers…flowers and more flowers…all summer long! Begonia colours are beautiful and the flower festival lasts for months on end.

Begonias are available in a rainbow of cheerful colours, shapes and sizes ranging from non-stop, singles, doubles, fringed, cascading and named varieties such as Bertinii Boliviensis ‘Tanais’® which will reward you with hundreds of dazzling, fiery red flowers from just one tuber!

Begonias have many uses…. ideal for tubs and planters as well as making colourful borders, they can even be used in the home as a cut flower. Cascading varieties look particularly effective in hanging baskets.

Begonias grow from tuberous roots, rather like fibre-coated gladiolus corms.
Tubers should be planted from January onwards in damp peat, keeping them above 16°C – 18°C. When immersing tubers into the peat, check that the flat or concave side of each is at the top and just level with the surface. As leafy shoots are produced they should be potted into 3 ½” pots of potting compost. As the roots fill the pots, pot on into 5 or 7 inch pots.

If you are planning on using begonias for summer bedding plants they should be acclimatized to outside weather conditions in advance. This process should start towards the end of May by placing the plants outside during the day in a sheltered area and bringing them in again at night. After a week of this, and providing the weather is not too cold and there are no frost forecasts they can then be left out all night.

Begonia buds tend to drop if they become too dry so place in a suitable location and water frequently.
Begonias in tub
Begonia stems and foliage are usually brittle so it is advisable to tie the stems to a cane at an early stage. When the plants are well established in their final pots, regular liquid feeds should be given. To achieve deeper colours, keep the greenhouse cool and shaded during summer, by covering the glass during sunny weather. To create single, large blooms, allow only one shoot to develop from each tuber, remove the other shoots and use them as cuttings. Female flowers have a winged capsule behind the bud and form only single blooms, these flowers should be removed.

At the end of the year, when the foliage of the begonias begins to yellow, gradually reduce watering until the pots are dry. Turn out the contents of the pots and separate the tubers from any adhering compost. Cut away any mouldy patches and rub the cut surfaces with a sulphur powder. Expose to fresh air for a few hours and then store in dry sand in a frost-free place for the winter.

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