Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tuberous Begonias

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club ( sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. Paul recently sent this article out called Tuberous Begonias (I occasionally add a few comments in italics) and here it is:

"This begonia is a creation of horticulturalists from all over the world. No flower has had so many ancestors and undergone so many complicated modifications. Begonias named for Michel Begon, a botanist who spent many years developing new varieties of the plant. He was at one time governor of French Canada and is responsible for many of the current varieties we have today. Tuberous Begonias are known for their flowers, whose shapes vary a great deal, resembling hollyhocks, carnations, camellias, and roses. Some varieties have a single flower, some have double flowers and some have both single and double flowers on the same plant.

Tuberous begonias are like no other summer flowering bulb, as they will flower all summer long and well into the fall. They are the showiest and the largest family of shade loving bulbs. They also have more applications than any other bulb when planted in the garden. Begonias can be planted in containers of all types and even in hanging baskets. Try them in window boxes, urns and even whiskey barrels. On your decks, patios, terrace, or porches they will provide you with endless color all summer." I keep a couple of containers going all summer and into the fall and as the season progresses, I fall in love with the begonia more and more each day! I am partial to colors similar to what you see above. At Skillin's we do not have many begonia BULBS left but we will soon have started plants ready for you--and with an investment of around $12 to $15 you can have gorgeous rich color for months!

"With many hundreds of varieties to choose from, the Begonia family has the plant height, flower size, flower color, foliage texture, and growth habit for you. I like the hanging or drooping varieties that cascade flowers over the side of the container, covering it with flowers. The drooping or cascading types have clusters of small flowers on their stems and are wonderful for porches or small terraces in a shady location. The large flowering types will grow to 18 inches tall with thick stems that help to hold flowers up to 3 inches in diameter. The foliage is deep green and triangular shape with small teeth on the margins.

Purchase your bulbs now and start them indoors on your windowsill. Fill a pot with a man-made soil like Jiffy Mix half way and place the tuber with the cup side facing up. Cover the bulb with 2 inches of soil and keep it moist but not wet. In no time at all, the warmth of the window will develop shoots from the tuber and the growth will develop quickly. In the house, the plant matures quickly and by the time the weather is safe enough to be planted outdoors, flower buds will be developing. When you plant, be sure to condition the soil with compost or animal manure. The better the soil the more flowers the plant will make. When growing in containers use Soil Moist in the soil to help retain water during the heat of summer. Fertilize every two weeks with Miracle-Gro or add Osmocote pellets to the soil mixture for continuous feeding all summer long.

The Begonias come from mild climate countries and when grown in a cold region, the tubers must be dug up from the garden after a frost and stored in the basement during the winter months. Store the bulbs in a box filled with dry peat moss on the basement floor. Keep them away from heat but temperatures must be above freezing, so don't store them in your garage. I always dust the bulbs with "Rose and Flower" garden dust before winter storage. If you grow begonias in containers, allow the top of the plant to be frosted and cut the foliage off to the ground. I put the containers in the basement for the winter and they never dry up, as all the roots are still intact. Do not water during the winter! In April I just add water and it comes right back to life. Shade is not a reason not to have flowers around your property when you have so many types of Tuberous Begonias to choose. Enjoy!"

Special thanks to the Paul Parent Garden Club!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
April 17, 2010

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