Begonia 10°C/50°F; Europe

There are a number of begonias that can be relied upon to produce at least a few flowers for much of the year, but the German Rieger strain of begonia is far and away the most important of commercial flowering begonias. And, like it or not, the commercially important ones are those that the average indoor plant grower is most likely to be able to acquire. In different parts of the world the begonias have been given different names, but the most appropriate to my way of thinking is B. ‘Fircglow’, which captures well the rich, almost glowing colouring of the flowers. These are produced in small clusters from the leaf axils over many months given the right conditions. Red is the most popular colour, but there are also a number of shades of salmon and orange.

Plants are normally sold in 13cm/5in pots and are very dependable indoors. They are quite capable of flowering for most of the year if given a cool, lightly shaded location, a moist peat- or loam-based mixture and regular feeding with weak liquid fertilizer. Dry air is a killer of these plants and often causes flower buds to drop off; therefore, provide as much humidity as possible by setting the pots in moist peat or on trays of pebbles and water. Care should be taken to avoid stuffy condi- tions as mildew on the leaves can be trouble-some-this is also a good reason for keeping water off the leaves at all costs. Mildew can be treated with one of the many fungicides that are available, but even if eradicated it leaves the foliage looking much less attractive. New plants are grown from cuttings of non-flowering shoots taken at almost any time of the year-use cuttings about 8cm/3in in length inserted in a mixture of peat and sand in reasonable heat.

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