Tuberous Begonia

The Tuberous Begonia is considered by many to be the queen of the summer bedding plants -a dazzling variety of colours to grace beds, borders, hanging baskets or rockeries until the first frosts arrive. They flourish in sun or shade, provided that you enrich the soil with humus before planting and water regularly during dry weather. The

Flowering period: is from late June to September.

VARIETIES: The large-flowered B. tuberhybrida is the best-known group, its Rose-like blooms measuring from 3 to 6 in. across. Serrated or smooth-edged petals, self- or bi-coloured – few plants can offer such a range of shapes and colours. Named varieties include ‘Sugar Candy’ (pale pink), ‘Gold Plate’ (yellow), ‘Guardsman’ (vermilion), ‘Seville’ (yellow, edged pink), ‘Double Picotee’ (cream, edged red) and ‘Diana Wynyard’ (white). The plants grow about 1-1.5 ft high and should be set 1 ft apart. The tubers are large – 1 -2 in. across. Some people prefer bedding Begonias which have a large number of smaller flowers – for them B. multiflora maxima is ideal, with masses of double blooms on 6 in. high bushy plants. B. pendula bears slender, drooping stems and 2 in. flowers – a good choice for hanging baskets and window boxes. To grow Tuberous Begonias, press the tubers hollow side uppermost into boxes of damp peat in March or April. Keep at 60°-70°F and when leafy shoots appear, transplant the tubers separately into potting compost. Plant out in June when all risk of frost is past. Stake and feed during the growing period, and with B. tuber-hybridathe small female flowers under the large and showy male one should be pinched off whilst still small. Lift the tubers in mid October and keep indoors. Remove the stems after the foliage has died down. Store the tubers in dry peat in a frost-free place over winter.

SITE AND SOIL: Requires soil which is rich in organic matter with little or no lime present – thrives best in light shade. Keep the soil moist – water in the morning, not at midday.

PLANT DETAILS: See above.

PROPAGATION: Tubers can be divided when the shoots are small – it is better to buy new tubers.

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