Tuberous Rooted Begonias

This is possibly the most important of all greenhouse plants, for begonias are cultivated in their thousands for indoor display and for bedding. There are several groups which are grown as pot plants, but we are interested only in the tuberous-rooted species, which are of such easy cultivation that they present no difficulties to anyone possessing a greenhouse or even a cold frame.

Propagation is either by sowing seed or by division of the tubers at planting-time. For exhibition or for greenhouse display, the tubers are potted into 48-size pots in early April, a cold-house being quite suitable. If the tubers have become large and woody, they should first be started into growth in boxes of loam and peat, then when growth can be seen, the tubers should be divided with a sharp knife, taking care to see that each piece of tuber contains a growing shoot. The divided tubers should then be potted into Go-size pots containing a compost made up of fibrous loam, peat and some coarse sand, just pressing the tuber into the compost and in no way covering it.Tuberous Rooted Begonias

Tubers being grown for bedding purposes, which are generally sold with the new growth about in. high, are almost always started into growth by placing as many as two dozen in a box containing a compost of loam, peat and sand. Early April is the correct time, for the plants should not be bedded out until June 1st or until fear of frost has departed. By then they will have made plenty of roots and some foliage.

When once the plants have made some growth they will prove copious drinkers and should be kept supplied with moisture, especially when grown for glasshouse display. They are not stove plants by any means, in fact, they are happiest in a temperature of from 55-60 F. and should the midsummer sunshine be unduly severe the greenhouse should be shaded with lime-wash.

To obtain the utmost beauty from the display, begonias indoors should be staged so that where two rows of plants are being grown on the greenhouse staging, those at the back are raised by placing the pots on wooden blocks.

Begonias may be brought into bloom in deep frames, but the plants are never at their best indoors for they do not like the dry, shaded conditions of a living-room and tend to drop their buds. Frame-grown plants may be brought into a sunny window for short periods, so that their brilliance may be enjoyed as much as possible.

As soon as the first buds are noticed, the plants will respond to an application of dilute manure-water once a week.

At the end of the flowering period, they should be dried off gradually and the pots may then be stood on their sides during winter without removing the tubers, or the tubers may be shaken out in October and stored in boxes of peat or sand in a frost-proof room, an attic being ideal.

Begonias may quite easily be grown from seed sown during March in heat or early in May in a cool house. Using the John Innes Seed Compost, the seeds are merely pressed into the compost, watered and covered with a sheet of glass. Provided a temperature of 60° F. can be maintained, they will readily germinate, and as soon as large enough to handle the seedlings should be pricked off into seed-boxes and grown on by later transplanting to 21-in. Pots.

Begonias which are of exhibition strain will produce large blooms which, if not given support, may flop over, causing the breaking of the stems. Wire supports should be placed into the soil to which the heads are to be supported as soon as the buds are opening.

VARIETIES (DOUBLE BEGONIAS)

  • Aldwith Berry. The habit of the plant is compact, the bloom of a rich yellow shade, a grand begonia.
  • Ballet Girl. A lovely variety, the white waved petals are edged with rose pink.
  • Blithe Spirit. Comes into bloom when most have finished and bears a salmon pink bloom of perfect formation.
  • Diana Vinyard. Produces a huge bloom of purest white.
  • El Alamein. Outstandingly brilliant, the colour is rich crimson.
  • Flambeau. The most vivid scarlet of perfect form.
  • Florence Bigland. Attractive soft apricot.
  • Frances Powell. A vigorous grower bearing deep pink flowers of great depth.
  • Hercules. A new free-flowering variety, bearing bloom of an unusual shade of salmon red.
  • Susan Hoti. Palest cream of excellent habit.
  • Wayne Parker. The flowers are of great depth, the petals edged rosy pink, like a picotee carnation.

VARIETIES (PENDULOUS)

A range of begonias with pendulous habit and suitable for hanging-baskets in the greenhouse, or for hanging in an entrance, or under the eaves of a house, are especially attractive and extremely long-flowering. The tubers should be brought on in small pots and transferred to the baskets in early June.

  • Dawn. Attractive buff-yellow.
  • Edith. Rich salmon pink.
  • Golden Shower. Yellow, borne in profusion.
  • Irene. Double pink.
  • Mrs. Bilkey. Rich orange.
  • Scarlet Glow. Vivid scarlet.

BEGONIAS IN OPEN BEDS

There is an inexpensive range of mixed colours and small tubers, imported each year chiefly from Belgium which are used for open-air bedding schemes, the tubers being rooted in slight heat or – n closed frames, and are planted out early June. They are most attractive when planted in circular raised beds or they may be used as an edging in the same way as the dwarf variegated-leaf geraniums. They are an economical plant for the tubers may be lifted early October and stored in peat and used again year after year. Apart from a peat mulch in July and the removal of dead blooms, the plants will require no attention throughout summer.

MULTIFLORA BEGONIAS

Every summer the superbly dainty and colourful multiflora begonias are being more widely used for bedding display. They

are tuberous rooted and may be brought into growth in the same way as for others for outdoor flowering. Planted in beds entirely to themselves or used as an edging to a bed of summer-flowering plants they are a delightful change from the more familiar plants.

VARIETIES

  • Flamboyant. A tiny double flower of a glorious shade of cherry. Helen Harms. Produces masses of semi-double flowers of a rich copper-yellow colour.
  • Medelon. Also fully double and of a most attractive shade of deep china rose.
  • Mrs. Richard Galle. The small blooms, the size of a penny are of a glorious shade of salmon-orange and fully double.
  • Red Thousand Beauties. A perfect description, the dozens of dainty crimson-red blooms borne on each plant become thousands on even a small bed.

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