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Plants Online - Begonia

Plants for sale - Begonia

42

Begonia
Half Hardy Perennial
1 foot to 18 inches.
Colours various, July to October.

Among the trumpeted “improvements” which constantly appear and as constantly disappear from the florists’ catalogues, two or three times in a life-time, perhaps, there arrives – and stays – an indutible gift of progress. Such a gift is the tuberous begonia, which has taken its place as one of the most satisfactory and decorative bedding-plants during the last fifteen years.
In range of colour and in general thriftiness it is vastly superior to the time-honoured geranium.
The flowers vary from pure white to a very dark crimson, with intermediate shades of yellow, orange, scarlet, pink of several depths of tint, and that pretty colour which goes by the name of “salmon”, and it is to be noted that all these agree perfectly when massed together, a unity not by any means found in all floral families.
As regards constitution, the begonia rejoices in a dripping summer, and sends up its erect flowers, clear of mud-splashings, long after the geranium beds are reduced to dismal plots of almost flowerless greenery. It may be planted out at the end of May, and will continue in bloom until the first sharp frost of autumn, which cuts down the foliage. The tubers may then be taken up, and kept in any fairly dry and cool place, secure from freezing, until next spring.
For the amateur who requires not more than a few dozen plants the least troublesome plan is to buy growing tubers off the nurseryman, ready for planting out in May or June. They may be put out directly into their flowering quarters.
The second plan, suitable for any one with command of a greenhouse or frame, is to buy “dry” or “started” tubers in February or March, plant them close together in rich soil in boxes about two and a half inches deep, and grow on with plenty of moisture, in a temperature ranging between the extremes of 70° and 50°.
In planting begonia tubers, always remember that the hollow side is the top, and must be uppermost, just on a level with the surface of the soil; on no account must the tuber be buried, and care should be taken in giving water that it does not lodge in the concave side.
With ordinary care, the plants will grow strong and stocky, and will be ready for planting out when the risk of frosts is over. A third way of raising begonias is from seed; this involves a good deal of trouble, but is, of course, the cheapest to the grower’s pocket.
Obtain seed of a really good strain of erect-growing “singles”, and sow in well-drained pots in a temperature of 65° at the end of February.
The surface of the soil should be fine and smooth, and the seed, which is very minute, must be carefully sown, and watered very carefully indeed. The seedlings come up at irregular intervals, and each plant must be pricked out, when large enough to handle, into a pot or box; if they are grown on in a steady warmth, liberally but rationally watered and looked after in the way of weeding and surface stirring, they will give some flowers by July or August, and will form fine tubers for next year.
The beds for begonias should be made very rich, worked two spades deep and have abundance of half-rotted manure and leaf-mould dug into them. During the summer the plants will take almost any amount of water, and an occasional dose of liquid manure (a decoction of horse dung in water, diluted to about the colour of pale sherry) will be an advantage.
The growth of the stems is succulent and rather brittle, and in windy neighbourhoods may require the help of small hazel sticks and bast. When the autumn frosts have turned the foliage to pulp, fork up the plants, pull or twist the stems carefully from the tubers, which when cleaned of root-fibres and adhering mould may be packed away for the winter.
The best storage is in boxes of fairly dry earth, under the stage of a cold greenhouse, or in a dry cellar or shed, safe from frost and from drip or any other form of wet; but with the best of conditions a few tubers will be found to have decayed by the spring. Sometimes, without sufficient visible cause, this loss is very considerable. Roots that are soft or shrivelled by planting-time are quite worthless.
After four or five years the tubers become very large and hollow, and are not to be depended upon for much longer; it is well to introduce some new blood every season.
Begonias are excellent pot plants for window or house decoration. For this purpose they should be transplanted singly out of the boxes which they were started in into small pots, potted on when the roots have filled these, and finally put in May into six-inch pots in which they will flower. These must have ample drainage, with a layer of old manure and flaky leaf-mould over the crocks, and the rest a rich compost with sand. There must be no stint of water at any time; and as the growth indoors is not so sturdy as it is in the open each plant will probably need two or three unobtrusive sticks and neat and careful tying-up.
There is one other way of growing begonias which is peculiarly suitable for certain positions, namely, in large tubs. A paraffin-cask sawn in two, the inside well charred, and the outside painted and unobtrusive green, will afford tow tubs of about two feet diameter, which will accommodate ten or a dozen begonias each. The charring may be done by standing the tub in some open place, wetting the inside well with kerosene, lighting it with a torch of paper, and allowing it to burn till the surface of the wood is just burnt black.
The conflagration is furious at first, but soon dies down, and may be extinguished at any time by turning the tub upside down. The soil for tub-growing must be as rich as possible, without fresh manure, and there should be two inches drainage of old tiles or stones on the bottom, which, of course, must have about a dozen holes of one and a half inch diameter bored through it.
Watering must be copious and regular, except in rainy times, and about August a good top-dressing of fairly fresh horse manure may be spread in an almost unnoticeable manner among the plants.
Tubs thus furnished will stand in all sorts of corners where otherwise flowers would be lacking; on paved courtyards and terraces, gravel paths, steps, etc., provided that a fair amount of sun reached the site; and in spring they may be filled with several sorts of early flowering plants, amongst which Wallflowers do particularly well.


BEGONIA

Family BEGONIACEAE
Begonia tuberhybrida
Perennial

A name given to the tuberous Begonias of garden origin that have been derived from such species as Begonia boliviensis, Begonia clarkei, Begonia davisii, Begonia pearcei, Begonia rosiflora, Begonia veitchii and others from the tropics that are used for outdoor planting in summer.
The exotic double forms are best suited for greenhouse culture owing to their flowers becoming weighed down by rain and spoiled.
The single forms, however, with both plain and crisped petals are useful and colourful subjects for summer bedding, and comprise a very wide range of colours from white and shades of yellow to pink, salmon, orange, scarlet, crimson.

The tubers may be potted in March, using a rich compost containing leafmould, old manure, coarse sand and loam. These are grown on in a cool greenhouse where frost can be excluded and are planted out-of-doors in early June.
The soil should have been well enriched by the previous incorporation of old manure and the position should enjoy full sun. Perfect drainage is essential.

Propagation is by means of seed or cuttings.

The flowering season is in summer.


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