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Tuberous begonias - landscaping-gardening


If you be grateful for plants that have no dilly-dallying in audaciously stating their apparition with huge, more or less artificially accurate flowers, then tuberous begonias are for you. While some may find them considerably too overstated, downright blatant even, if you like colour, and a lot of it, with subtlety an opportunity considerably than compulsory, then look no further.

Flowering from late spring, as the days exceed 13 hours long, until well into autumn when the flora dies back, these tuberous-rooted perennials have been extensively hybridised and refined to the point where the larger-flowered forms are nobody short of spectacular. For those with greenhouses or a very mild coldness climate there are even types that flower well into winter, if not right because of the cooler months.

Description and classification and groups

Begonias are among those expedient plants where the accurate name is also the communal name. The genus is found in the tropics and subtropics, above all in the Americas, and is made up of about 900 species with 130-odd in cultivation, from which many cultivars and hybrids have been developed. These backyard forms have been at odds into 8 main categories. They are:

1. Cane-like, which have narrow, upright stems with conspicuous leaf nodes and evergreen foliage.

2. Shrub-like, which are bushy plants with branching stems.

3. Thick-stemmed, which resemble the cane-like but with much heavier stems that from time to time form a trunk.

4. Semperflorens, which are the hard to chew entrenched types by and large treated as summer-flowering bed linen annuals.

5. Rhizomatous, which may be evergreen or deciduous and which are often grown as much for their plants as for their flowers.

6. Rex-cultorum, which are the fancy-leaved Rex begonias that are as a rule grown as house plants.

7. Tuberous, which have thickened tuberous roots and which commonly die back over chill or, in the case of the winter-flowering types, which may be dried off at some other time.

8. Trailing Scandent, which are pendulous, ever-blooming plants often with long internodes and which ought to not be bewildered with the trailing tuberous begonias.

So group seven it is, yet even though quite a few begonia species have tuberous roots, when we talk of tuberous begonias we're in general referring to the fancy-flowered group of garden-raised plants known as Begonia × tuberhybrida. Industrial above all from South American species, they first appeared in Europe in 1867, just three years after the inauguration of the most influential of the early father 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 augmentation habit.

There are small- medium- and large-flowered hybrids; they may have single, semi-double or fully rose- or camellia-like amplify flowers; they may be small and mound-forming, trailing or upright to just about a metre tall. And while the plant life are spectacular, don't dispense with the foliage. Since though disparate say the Rex begonias, tuberous begonias are never grown for their plants alone, their velvety, deep green plants add a rich lavishness that is the complete foil to the flowers, which would certainly be diminished not including the differ of the leaves.

So, tuberous begonias are beautiful. I don't need to tell you that, the films speak for themselves, but how do you get the best out of them? Well, as patch plants they're not for each one and not for every location, although with alert assortment and siting you may be bowled over at just how well they grow in the open in many parts of New Zealand.

Begonias have a inclination for cool, moist setting and a climate that doesn't bear from extremes of summer heat or chill cold. They need brainy light to flower well but must be out of address sunlight, chiefly at some stage in the heat of the day, and they also need shelter from brawny winds or the plants may brown at the edges and the soft flora may be torn or bent. Tuberous begonias flower best with humus-rich soil, adequate of humidity and conventional feeding.

Given those rations it's not astounding that many gardeners decide on to farm tuberous begonias indoors, as conservatory, shadehouse or cool hothouse plants. However, if you have a cheerful southerly facing attitude in your backyard or a in the shade spot facing north, then begonias will blossom in the open air too, chiefly in areas that don't often encounter famine in summer.

Strong sun and wind, chiefly hot dry winds, are the main enemies; light soil that dries out briefly doesn't help either. But in a lightly shaded, cozy attitude with soil that has been comprehensively all set with abundance of well-rotted dung tuberous begonias will flower from early summer to the first frosts. And all that you need do is to stake the tall growers to cane canes (specialist nurseries stock wire frames), confiscate any spent flowers, keep the soil moist and add a diminutive liquid fertiliser every week.

If you find that the super-fancy large-flowered forms are austerely not tough an adequate amount for your garden, don't give up. As a replacement for try some of the smaller-flowered hybrids. The barely Multiflora types, regularly known as Flashy Begonias, are very resilient. Grown as massed bedcovers or in clusters, they're most regularly seen with brainy red flowers, which often about hide the foliage, but also occur in carroty and a a bit weaker yellow-flowered form.

Nonstop begonias are crosses among the Multifloras and the bigger flowered types. As you'd anticipate they're of intermediate height and vigour. They flower continuously, even in coldness if kept indoors, and are obtainable in a wide range of colours. Nonstops are F1 hybrids so there is no point in discount the seed and any seedpods must be detached to keep the plants flowering. Reiger begonias, residential from Begonia × hiemalis, are similar.

And if open beds don't seem to work, bear in mind emergent your begonias in pots so that you can find just the right place for them. The upright types flower and grow well but are moderately brittle, necessitating staking. The trailing types, often Begonia boliviensis hybrids, have more flexible, pendulous stems and when grown in execution baskets they are easy-care plants that make a great show. Trailing begonias as a rule do best in sphagnum-lined wire baskets fairly than solid pots, their roots appreciating the cool moist sphagnum.
Disbudding and deadheading

Begonias have break free male and female flowers. As a rule one large female flower is subtended by two less important male flowers. Removing the male vegetation beforehand they mature will allow the showy female flora to reach their full size and will also avoid the education of seedpods that could decrease the plant's vigour. Old plant life ought to be disinterested once past their best. They snap off by a long shot and doing this not only encourages new blooms to form, it also helps foil fungal diseases that could arise among the moldy petals.

Pests and diseases

Begonias are neither chiefly susceptible to nor anti to pests. Slugs and snail delight the young shoots and the mature foliage, a number of caterpillars may chew the foliage, harsh and sap-sucking creatures such as thrips, aphids and mealy bugs may be present, but with a hardly concentration and dull care, pests can by and large be closed ahead of they get out of control.

More of a catch are fungal diseases, in particular soft rots, mushroom and botrytis. Hurt stems can briefly develop into soft, dilute and rotten and this may lead to the eventual attack of the plant. Just about certainly the plants will arise mushroom in late autumn - it's just part of the iciness die-back process - but mushroom can also occur for the duration of the developing season. Good airing goes a long way towards calculating the severity of fungal diseases, care the plant life and stems moderately dry also helps, even if spraying with a fungicide will maybe be crucial too.

Winter care

As flower assembly lessens from mid-autumn, cut back on watering and feeding and allow your begonias to dry off. While the plant life be supposed to dry, brown and fall away lacking too many problems, do keep an eye open for any fungal diseases that could allot to the tubers.

Once the plant life has dried, the tubers may be lifted or aloof from their pots for coldness storage. This isn't all the time compulsory in mild chill areas, but where hard frosts or prolonged wet environment are liable it's a good idea. The tubers can be stored in barely moist sawdust or any other comparatively dry, inert medium, such as damp, frayed newspaper. Replant them (concave side up) in bounce as the new shoots appear. Cover the tubers with a few centimetres of soil, as they bud roots from the tops too.

The exceptions to the administer are the winter-flowering Begonia × hiemalis hybrids, which answer from crossing Begonia × tuberhybrida with Begonia socotrana, a species from an Indian Ocean island off the caost of Yemen. Commonly sold as Reiger or "blush" begonias, these plants start to flower from late summer and will hang about in leaf and flower until spring. Clearly these plants, which are finally prejudiced of frost, need a very mild, caring chill to grow outdoors. However, they are very adjustable to enclosed crop growing and are a great amount for winter-flowering house plants that can spend the summer in the open in the garden.


There are more than a few ways to broadcast tuberous begonias, the approach used anecdotal with they type of plant.


Sow bought seed to churn out F1 hybrids such as the Nonstops or to get a new crop of brisk young plants.

Begonia seed is very fine, dust-like in fact. It's so fine that it doesn't commonly come in seed packets, where it would be lost in the folds, but in glass phials that have to be snapped open ahead of sowing. Pelleted seeds are much easier to handle, accepted wisdom they are not all the time eagerly available.

The seed needs affection and light to germinate. It be supposed to be sown in spring, uncovered, in heated trays. Keep the seed just moist until it germinates. The young seedlings grow briefly and are soon large a sufficient amount to pot. When small they are easily hurt to draughts and heat fluctuations and must be kept under cover until bounce is well established into early summer.

Prepare your patch beds with high-humus fertilizer and organic fertiliser and since the plants will be tender, plant out when the climate is not too hot and sunny.

Mature plants have large tubers that apportion eagerly and boundary is a good way to abruptly be the source of established, energetic plants. Break up the tubers in bounce when replanting. They slice by a long shot with a sharp knife but as discovery the budding 'eyes' can be arduous keep your divisions on the large side. To check fungal diseases, dust the cut surfaces with sulphur powder and allow them to dry ahead of planting.


Most tuberous begonias will grow from cuttings and this is an chiefly good logic of house up large stocks of the small-flowered Multiflora types for massed bedding. The fresh bound and early summer shoots make the best cuttings and will achieve very abruptly under mild humid conditions. You can go on to take cuttings well into summer but but for the new plants can advance moderately sized tubers beforehand frost they will maybe not endure until the next spring.

Like many of the house plant begonias, Begonia × hiemalis is often raised from leaf cuttings. This involves removing a mature leaf, slicing athwart its veins and pinning the leaf down on moist soil. A warm humid environment, such as an enclosed circulation tray, is essential. Also, you be supposed to start in bounce so that the young plants are well-established beforehand winter.

Begonia displays

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 backyard book cause and horticultural photographer based in Christchurch, New Zealand. I run a stock photo collection called Country, Farm and Plot (http://www. cfgphoto. com). This commentary may be re-published provided this in a row is in print with it and is obviously visible.


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