BEGONIA

P. There are various types of begonia, including some used for summer bedding. All require greenhouse protection at some stage.

Tuberous Begonias. The summer-flowering varieties are tuberous-rooted and from seed sown in March good plants can be obtained for planting out in early June. Sow in a compost of equal parts damp peat, leaf mould and sand, well-mixed and sifted and put into shallow pans filled with small drainage rocks. Fill to within half an inch of the rim and water with a fine rose. Sow the seed and lightly press in — do not cover it — water again and cover the pans with glass. Place in a warm greenhouse with a temperature of 50 degrees F. until the seeds germinate. Prick off when the seedlings are in the seed-leaf stage and harden off gradually; the tubers are then potted singly in 5 or 6 in. pots filled with equal parts loam, peat and leaf-mould as soon as the leaves appear, or planted outdoors in early June.

After flowering remove the decayed stems, lift the tubers and store in boxes of sand or peat in a cool, frostproof place. An attic is quite suitable. The blooms of many of the large-flowered exhibition varieties must be staked very carefully, otherwise they will flop. Begonias sold for bedding usually exclude the fairly expensive named varieties and supports are seldom needed.

Begonia buds will fall off, especially in a greenhouse or living room, if the atmosphere or soil is too dry and there is a temperature drop at night. In a greenhouse, it is best to drench both staging and floor with water every day. Begonias must be supplied with plenty of moisture during the summer and when used for bedding a mulch of damp peat is always beneficial. The soil should be enriched with compost, peat and, if possible, well-rotted cow manure. Begonias are unhappy on hot, dry soils and are accordingly often at the best in cooler northern districts.

Named varieties are, as already mentioned, fairly expensive and are usually more suited to pot culture in the greenhouse than outdoor bedding. They are, however, of considerable beauty and well worth the care demanded.

Beauty: rich amber. Strong stems.

Clarissa Hutchinson: bright salmon.

Diana Wynyard: pure white. Strong stems.

Elizabeth Woolman: apricot and amber. No support needed.

Florence Bond: bright orange.

Jim Kirby: deep primrose. Early flowering.

Juliet: salmon-rose.

Kay Sylvester: peach yellow and rosy-crimson picotec edge.

Mary Statham: bright orange. Dark foliage.

Moonlight: creamy-yellow.

Ophelia: white with pink picotee edge.

Pamela Clarke: rich velvety-crimson.

Rhapsody: salmon-pink.

Rose Pearl: rose-pink.

The Pendulous Begonias, also tuberous-rooted, are grown in the same way except that they are eventually placed in baskets lined with moss and hanging from the greenhouse roof. The blooms are smaller and do not require any support. Good varieties include: Alice Manning: deep yellow.

Flaming Torch: orange-scarlet.

Golden Shower: orange-yellow.

Irene: apple-blossom pink.

Mollie: blush-white.

Roberta: deep scarlet.

Yellow Sweetie: pale lemon-yellow. Fragrant.

The Multiflora Section is useful for summer bedding as the plants are unusually compact and free flowering. Good varieties include the warm orange Jewel, the vivid, long-lasting scarlet Burgomaster and the salmon-pink Alice Crousse.

Fibrous-rooted Begonias:

These include the winter-flowering section, notably the small-flowered, pink Gloire de Lorraine and its varieties. These require a moist atmosphere and an average temperature of 65 degrees F. Another group comprises the summer-flowering Rex varieties with extra large foliage, usually silver-coloured with crimson or purple vcining. They prefer a partially shaded position in a fairly warm greenhouse and will often make large plants, several feet tall. They are often grown under greenhouse staging or in hanging baskets where they will stay in bloom for the greater part of the year.

The summer-flowering fibrous-rooted begonias are mostly forms of Begonia semperflorens. They may be grown as pot plants in a cool greenhouse or in the open from early June to September, where they give equally good results in dry or wet seasons. The clusters of small pink, red or white flowers are very freely produced. Good varieties include the coral-pink Loveliness, Crimson Bedder and White Queen.

Propagation of Begonias:

Begonias are readily increased in early spring by stem cuttings 4—5 in. long. These are inserted in a pot filled with a peaty compost and placed in a warm propagating case (temperature 65 degrees F.).

Begonia Gloire de Lorraine and the Rex varieties are propagated by leaf cuttings . Choose mature leaves and lay flat in pans of sandy soil. Some gardeners make several incisions on the under-surface of the leaf in the veins near where they join, but this is by no means always essential.

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