|Landscaping Gardening Information|
If you appreciate plants that have no hesitation in boldly stating their presence with huge, almost artificially perfect flowers, then tuberous begonias are for you. While some may find them rather too overstated, downright brazen even, if you like colour, and plenty of it, with subtlety an option rather than compulsory, then look no further.
Flowering from late spring, as the days exceed 13 hours long, until well into autumn when the foliage dies back, these tuberous-rooted perennials have been extensively hybridised and refined to the point where the larger-flowered forms are nothing short of spectacular. For those with greenhouses or a very mild winter climate there are even types that flower well into winter, if not right through the cooler months.
Description and classification and groups
Begonias are among those convenient plants where the proper name is also the common name. The genus is found in the tropics and subtropics, particularly in the Americas, and is made up of around 900 species with 130-odd in cultivation, from which many cultivars and hybrids have been developed. These garden forms have been divided into 8 main categories. They are:
1. Cane-like, which have narrow, upright stems with conspicuous leaf nodes and evergreen foliage.
So group seven it is, yet although quite a few begonia species have tuberous roots, when we talk of tuberous begonias we're generally referring to the fancy-flowered group of garden-raised plants known as Begonia × tuberhybrida. Developed mainly from South American species, they first appeared in Europe in 1867, just three years after the introduction of the most influential of the early parent species, Begonia pearcei. Since that time thousands of hybrids have been raised and we now have tuberous begonias in a wide range of sizes and styles of flower and growth habit.
There are small- medium- and large-flowered hybrids; they may have single, semi-double or fully rose- or camellia-like double flowers; they may be small and mound-forming, trailing or upright to nearly a metre tall. And while the flowers are spectacular, don't ignore the foliage. Because although unlike say the Rex begonias, tuberous begonias are never grown for their foliage alone, their velvety, deep green leaves add a rich luxuriance that is the perfect foil to the flowers, which would definitely be diminished without the contrast of the leaves.
So, tuberous begonias are beautiful. I don't need to tell you that, the pictures speak for themselves, but how do you get the best out of them? Well, as garden plants they're not for everyone and not for every location, though with careful selection and siting you may be surprised at just how well they grow outdoors in many parts of New Zealand.
Begonias have a preference for cool, moist conditions and a climate that doesn't suffer from extremes of summer heat or winter cold. They need bright light to flower well but should be out of direct sunlight, especially during the heat of the day, and they also need shelter from strong winds or the flowers may brown at the edges and the soft foliage may be torn or bent. Tuberous begonias flower best with humus-rich soil, plenty of moisture and regular feeding.
Given those requirements it's not surprising that many gardeners choose to cultivate tuberous begonias indoors, as conservatory, shadehouse or cool greenhouse plants. However, if you have a bright southerly facing position in your garden or a shaded spot facing north, then begonias will thrive outdoors too, particularly in areas that don't often experience drought in summer.
Strong sun and wind, especially hot dry winds, are the main enemies; light soil that dries out quickly doesn't help either. But in a lightly shaded, sheltered position with soil that has been thoroughly prepared with plenty of well-rotted compost tuberous begonias will flower from early summer to the first frosts. And all that you need do is to stake the tall growers to bamboo canes (specialist nurseries stock wire frames), remove any spent flowers, keep the soil moist and add a little liquid fertiliser every week.
If you find that the super-fancy large-flowered forms are simply not tough enough for your garden, don't give up. Instead try some of the smaller-flowered hybrids. The little Multiflora types, commonly known as Flamboyant Begonias, are very resilient. Grown as massed bedding or in clusters, they're most commonly seen with bright red flowers, which often almost hide the foliage, but also occur in orange and a somewhat weaker yellow-flowered form.
Nonstop begonias are crosses between the Multifloras and the larger flowered types. As you'd expect they're of intermediate height and vigour. They flower continuously, even in winter if kept indoors, and are available in a wide range of colours. Nonstops are F1 hybrids so there is no point in saving the seed and any seedpods should be removed to keep the plants flowering. Reiger begonias, developed from Begonia × hiemalis, are similar.
And if open beds don't seem to work, consider growing your begonias in pots so that you can find just the right place for them. The upright types flower and grow well but are rather brittle, necessitating staking. The trailing types, often Begonia boliviensis hybrids, have more flexible, pendulous stems and when grown in hanging baskets they are easy-care plants that make a great show. Trailing begonias usually do best in sphagnum-lined wire baskets rather than solid pots, their roots appreciating the cool moist sphagnum.
Disbudding and deadheading
Begonias have separate male and female flowers. Usually one large female flower is subtended by two smaller male flowers. Removing the male flowers before they mature will allow the showy female flowers to reach their full size and will also prevent the development of seedpods that could lessen the plant's vigour. Old flowers should be removed once past their best. They snap off easily and doing this not only encourages new blooms to form, it also helps prevent fungal diseases that could develop among the decaying petals.
Pests and diseases
Begonias are neither particularly susceptible to nor resistant to pests. Slugs and snail relish the young shoots and the mature foliage, various caterpillars may chew the foliage, rasping and sap-sucking creatures such as thrips, aphids and mealy bugs may be present, but with a little attention and routine care, pests can usually be stopped before they get out of control.
More of a problem are fungal diseases, especially soft rots, mildew and botrytis. Damaged stems can quickly become soft, watery and rotten and this may lead to the eventual collapse of the plant. Almost inevitably the foliage will develop mildew in late autumn - it's just part of the winter die-back process - but mildew can also occur during the growing season. Good ventilation goes a long way towards controlling the severity of fungal diseases, keeping the foliage and stems reasonably dry also helps, though spraying with a fungicide will probably be necessary too.
As flower production lessens from mid-autumn, cut back on watering and feeding and allow your begonias to dry off. While the foliage should dry, brown and fall away without too many problems, do keep an eye open for any fungal diseases that could spread to the tubers.
Once the foliage has dried, the tubers may be lifted or removed from their pots for winter storage. This isn't always necessary in mild winter areas, but where hard frosts or prolonged wet conditions are likely it's a good idea. The tubers can be stored in barely moist sawdust or any other fairly dry, inert medium, such as damp, shredded newspaper. Replant them (concave side up) in spring as the new shoots appear. Cover the tubers with a few centimetres of soil, as they sprout roots from the tops too.
The exceptions to the process are the winter-flowering Begonia × hiemalis hybrids, which result from crossing Begonia × tuberhybrida with Begonia socotrana, a species from an Indian Ocean island off the caost of Yemen. Widely sold as Reiger or "blush" begonias, these plants start to flower from late summer and will remain in leaf and flower until spring. Obviously these plants, which are completely intolerant of frost, need a very mild, benign winter to grow outdoors. However, they are very adaptable to indoor cultivation and are a great choice for winter-flowering house plants that can spend the summer outdoors in the garden.
There are several ways to propagate tuberous begonias, the method used varying with they type of plant.
Sow bought seed to produce F1 hybrids such as the Nonstops or to get a new crop of vigorous young plants.
Begonia seed is very fine, dust-like in fact. It's so fine that it doesn't usually come in seed packets, where it would be lost in the folds, but in glass phials that have to be snapped open before sowing. Pelleted seeds are much easier to handle, thought they are not always readily available.
The seed needs warmth and light to germinate. It should be sown in spring, uncovered, in heated trays. Keep the seed just moist until it germinates. The young seedlings grow quickly and are soon large enough to pot. When small they are sensitive to draughts and temperature fluctuations and should be kept under cover until spring is well settled into early summer.
Prepare your garden beds with high-humus compost and organic fertiliser and because the foliage will be tender, plant out when the weather is not too hot and sunny.
Mature plants have large tubers that divide readily and division is a good way to quickly produce established, sturdy plants. Divide the tubers in spring when replanting. They slice easily with a sharp knife but because finding the growing 'eyes' can be difficult keep your divisions on the large side. To prevent fungal diseases, dust the cut surfaces with sulphur powder and allow them to dry before planting.
Most tuberous begonias will grow from cuttings and this is an especially good method of building up large stocks of the small-flowered Multiflora types for massed bedding. The fresh spring and early summer shoots make the best cuttings and will strike very quickly under mild humid conditions. You can continue to take cuttings well into summer but unless the new plants can develop reasonably sized tubers before winter they will probably not survive until the following spring.
Like many of the house plant begonias, Begonia × hiemalis is often raised from leaf cuttings. This involves removing a mature leaf, slicing across its veins and pinning the leaf down on moist soil. A warm humid environment, such as an enclosed propagation tray, is essential. Also, you should start in spring so that the young plants are well-established before winter.
Public gardens often use tuberous begonias in their displays and this can one of the best ways to see a wide range of flower types.
I am a garden book author and horticultural photographer based in Christchurch, New Zealand. I run a stock photo library called Country, Farm and Garden (http://www.cfgphoto.com). This article may be re-published provided this information is published with it and is clearly visible.
Pine Furniture Care Guide
First, some background on PINE WOOD. Pine is a naturally soft wood which continues to "breathe", based upon changes in the local (home, office, store, etc.
How to Grow Cooking Herbs
Grow your own cooking herbs to add fresh zest and flavor to your menus year-round!Is It a Cooking Herb or a Spice?The first thing to know in selecting which herbs to grow is the difference between cooking (culinary) herbs and spices. The cinnamon stick you put in your hot chocolate or apple cider is a spice while the parsley on the edge of your plate is an herb.
Why Should You Create A Butterfly Garden?
Have you noticed you do not see as many butterflies as you once did? It is sad that we do not see as many butterflies as we might like. You can change that by planting a butterfly garden.
The location of your pond should be decided. You've picked a good spot in your yard where you can see the pond from different places, and it's near enough to the house so you can see it from a window.
Set Out a Feast for Your Feathered Friends
February is "Feed the Birds" month in much of North America. And what great timing! If you're going through a cold winter, you can help the wintering birds that are going through it with you.
Adirondack Chairs - How to Choose One
In Blue Mountain Lake, New York, you will find a unique museum called the Adirondack Museum. According to the experts that run this museum, the Adirondack chair was originally called the Westport chair, named after a small town located nearby Adirondack Mountains.
Roses and Juniper Rock Gardens
Wide circle driveways don't happen much anymore, but when they do, what do you do with them? Clear out the grass, mound up some soil, and park a few boulders in strategic positions and you've got the perfect spot for an artistic rose garden. Plant some dark green Juniper and a few golden-tipped junipers for background color before adding your roses.
Although it is a member of the Thymelaeaceae, the family that includes the daphnes, it would be hard to imagine a plant less like a daphne at first glance. However, if you are familiar with the deciduous Daphne genkwa, there is some hint of resemblance there.
Keeping the Balance of Nature: Pond Water Maintenance
You might be tempted to let Mother Nature, tend to your backyard pond, and who could blame you? After all, she does a pretty good job of taking care of really big ponds, so why would your backyard ecosystem pose much of a challenge to her?Unfortunately, the fact is your backyard pond is only going to get some cursory attention from Mom; the rest of the work is going to be left up to you.In the "real world" chlorinated water doesn't find its way into ponds very often.
How to Rid that Lawn of Thatch!
You know that brown patchy debris in a lawn that accumulates on top of the soil but below the grass line? That's thatch.Thatch consist of grass clippings, grass stems, roots, and other debris that either decomposes or accumulates on a lawn over time.
Growing and Preserving Cut Flowers
There is nothing more cheerful than vases full of fresh flowers placed around the house that have been grown and cut from your own garden. A cut flower is one that has been cut at the stem and placed in a vase of water.
Landscape wallpaper can be a great addition to your computer's desktop. Since most of us always have our PCs running, it is refreshing to see a beautiful masterpiece on the display when the computer is not in use.
Greenhouse Calamities - Thoughts from a Novice Gardener
Greenhouses are a great addition to anyone's garden. They come in all different sizes and you can nestle them right where you want them and with smaller versions of greenhouses you can move them quite easily.
Daphnes for Scent and Colour
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of plants knows that daphnes have wonderfully fragrant flowers. And because some of them - usually the most scented - flower in winter, they're the sort of must-have plants that are usually among the first planted in any new garden.
Cat Repellent or How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden
Do cat repellents work? How to stop a cat from using garden as litterbox? Tell me how to keep cats out of my garden. These are common questions of concern to all gardeners but is there a real answer?The first line of defence is to ensure that your yard boundaries are secure.
Care of Dendrobium Orchids
DendrobiumsThis month I am focusing our attention to the care of Dendrobiums. These are one of the most popular of retail orchid plants.
Gardenscape On A Shoestring
Many of us flip through garden magazines, all the while thinking that it takes years, a professional, or tons of money to landscape the gardens featured in the glossy pictures. This isn't necessarily true.
Are You Being Taken Advantage of when Ordering Flowers Online?
Did you know that you can send flowers many different ways on the internet? With a few different options of delivering and ordering flowers online, you must be aware of security and safety of your personal information. Not only that, but you could be left with disappointing flowers for your event if you choose the wrong online florist.
5 Secrets to Growing Beautiful Roses
A rose is a rose is a rose - and there are few things in the garden more beautiful. There are 5 secrets I want to share that will help you to grow healthy roses.
Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Roses, what to look for when buyingThe first thing to look for is the plant's grade.Nearly all bare root roses sold today are grown in the field and are approximetly two years old.
|home | site map|