Aubrieta: Growing Guide

Clump-forming hardy perennials, which flower very early and moreover have a prolonged season.

Situation:

An ideal rock plant; can also be used on walls in raised flowerbeds and in other sunny spots. Because of its early flowering it is very valuable in the border.

Soil:

Calcareous soil, which must not be too poor; it must be well-drained, otherwise the plants may not survive the winter. Mix some pulverised bricks in the soil.

Propagation:

The garden forms – the only ones cultivated – can only be increased by division or from cuttings.

Aubrieta hybrids: Height to 5-10 cm; flowering season mid spring to early summer. The following are some beautiful varieties:’ Ashstead Purple’, dark purple-violet; ‘Blue King’, pure blue; ‘Double Pink’, lilac pink and double-flowered; ‘Fire Queen’, scarlet; ‘Lavender’, lavender blue. Unfortunately it is not always possible to buy named varieties.

Begonia Growing Guide

Only two groups of the exceptionally large Begonia genus are used in the garden: tuberous-rooted begonias and Begonia semperflorens, better known as bedding begonias. The second group lasts only one season whereas, correctly treated, tuberous begonias may last for years.

Situation:

Both groups of begonias are used in beds and sometimes in annual borders. Tuberous begonias are also suitable for window-boxes and hanging baskets, especially the trailing types. Some shade is desirable.

Soil:

Begonias require soil containing humus; it must be constantly moist. Poor garden soil should first be improved with peat fibre or potting soil, and window-boxes should be filled with a first-class potting mixture. Make sure that the soil does not dry out in the sun.

Propagation:

Begonia semperflorens is sown in winter in a box with bottom heat. The seedlings are pricked out and kept in the greenhouse until spring when the plants are slowly hardened off. Bedding plants are abundantly available in mid to late spring.

Tuberous begonias are purchased or ordered as dry corms. In spring they are induced to sprout in damp peat; the shoots may be used as cuttings, or the corms can be divided. As soon as the young plants have started into adequate growth they may be moved to the garden, but the plants are very sensitive to night frost and must be given protection. In winter the corms are kept at 5°C.

Begonia semperflorens: Height 15-20 cm , 25 cm or 40 cm . The compact dwarf forms are the types most frequently cultivated, usually in the form of Fi hybrids. There are varieties with white, pink, orange and red flowers; while the foliage may be green or bronze-coloured. Growers constantly develop new strains with larger flowers, greater uniformity and greater weather resistance.

Tuberous-rooted begonias: Height to 40 cm; flowering season early summer to early autumn. The large-flowered varieties are available with single or with double flowers; the double-flowered strains being subdivided according to flower shapes. Small-flowered types such as ‘Bertinii’ are very much stronger. In addition there are trailing begonias, with medium-sized flowers.

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