BEGONIA

This diverse family of popular tender plants have bright and colourful flowers, and sometimes ornamental foliage. Though most are greenhouse or house plants, the types suggested here can all be used as bedding plants.

Suitable site and soil. In containers, begonias grow well in any good potting compost. The fibrous-rooted B. semperflor-ens, and the bedding type of slightly taller tuberous-rooted begonias such as the ‘Nonstop’ range, do equally well in the ground in any normal garden soil. All prefer a sunny position, but they will also tolerate partial shade.

Cultivation and care. The large-flowered kinds will produce 26 bigger and better blooms if the small flowers that appear behind the large central one are removed. Tuberous-rooted kinds are lifted before the first frost and the dried tubers stored in boxes of dry peat in a frost-free place. Fibrous-rooted kinds are best discarded.

Propagation. B. semperjlorens varieties are raised from seed sown in late spring. Some tuberous-rooted varieties, like the fibrous-rooted kinds, can be raised from seed. Other tuberous begonias are propagated from cuttings in spring.

Recommended varieties. B. semperjlorens has given rise to many varieties. For mixed colours, try ‘Cocktail’ or ‘Supernova Mixed’. Tuberous-rooted bedding begonias have large flowers. Try any of the ‘Nonstop’ varieties for an extravagant show.

Pests and diseases. Slugs are sometimes a problem.

POTS TO PLUNGE

Most bedding begonias are planted straight into the ground, but it is worth planting a few in pots to plunge into the ground or a window box. You can then take them indoors easily in the autumn where they will continue to flower for a little longer.:

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