Recently, tuberous begonia has been winning the hearts of flower growers more and more. The popularity of these wonderful plants is due to the varied colors and abundant long flowering. Even novice gardeners can grow begonia, since it is quite unpretentious.
Begonia was discovered in the 17th century during an expedition to Haiti. The description of the plant was made by C. Linnaeus and named after the governor of Santo Domingo, a great collector of plants - Michel Begon.
In Russia, some types of begonias have long been grown as indoor plants. It was often called the "Eagle Wing" among the people, and after the French army left Moscow in 1812, the begonia began to be called "Napoleon's Ear", since the underside of the leaves of some begonias resembles a frost-bitten ear.
Now on sale there is a fairly large selection of varieties of these wonderful perennial, herbaceous plants that form tubers. Their flowers are sometimes similar to roses or camellias, with white, yellow, pink or red color.
Currently, tuberous begonias are divided into three groups:
- large-flowered terry,
- medium-flowered terry,
- small-flowered (double and simple).
Begonias are great for decorating flower beds and flowerpots. The wide leaves of these plants and bright flowers create an excellent decorative effect. Tuberous begonias are harmoniously combined with many low annual flowering and decorative deciduous plants. For example, I really like the combination of begonia with cream flowers and blue heliotrope. Vases with blooming begonia will undoubtedly become a decoration of a balcony, terrace or veranda. Vases and pots with ampelous forms of tuberous begonias look very impressive and elegant. In addition, with proper care, they bloom almost continuously all summer through to the frost.
Tuberous begonias are short-day plants. Given this feature, it is advisable to completely shade plants that are lagging in development in July for 3-4 weeks with opaque material from about 19 to 10 hours. This contributes to an increase in the size of tubers by about one and a half times. Experts also recommend doing the same with cuttings. In addition, the removal of flowers contributes to the maturation of tubers.
It should be borne in mind that begonias do not tolerate overdrying and, with a lack of moisture, can shed their leaves, so it is advisable to add hydrogel to the ground or plant them in spacious containers.
The choice of planting material
I buy new tubers immediately after they are on sale. As a rule, this is mid-January - early February. At first glance, it may seem that I am in a hurry to buy. But as experience shows, at this time there are much more chances to choose high-quality planting material, and already at home to try to create optimal storage conditions for it, which, unfortunately, cannot always be seen in retail outlets. There, by the spring, almost completely dried and non-viable tubers are often sold there.
When buying, it is better to choose young rounded tubers with a diameter of 5-6 cm.
Before planting, I use wet sawdust or moss to store the purchased material. I usually store it in the refrigerator until the beginning of March.
Before planting, the tubers are immersed for an hour in a solution of potassium permanganate (0.05%) at room temperature. Thus, disinfection and restoration of turgor occurs. Processed tubers for awakening and further germination can be decomposed in a container with moss or peat, so that the tops protrude about 1/3 above the surface. It is necessary to ensure that water does not fall on the central part of the tuber during watering. I keep containers with tubers on a light windowsill at a temperature of 18-22 ° C and make sure that the substrate does not dry out. On bright sunny days, I shade the containers with white paper.
During germination, I spend 2-3 fertilizing, trying to alternate mineral fertilizers with organic ones. Gradually I harden young tender shoots on the balcony. After the threat of return frosts has passed, I transplant into flowerpots, placing the tubers at a distance of 20-25 cm from each other. At first, I keep them in a greenhouse, and when warm weather is established, I take out flowerpots with begonias on the terrace.
Begonia develops well and blooms profusely on moderately moist and breathable soils. It does not tolerate calcareous soils well. The substrate for begonias, ideally, should consist of clay, turf, leaf, peat soil and sand in a ratio of 2: 2: 2: 2: 1.
These plants feel great indoors, tolerate partial shade, but they achieve the greatest decorative effect when planted in areas that are lighted and protected from the wind. Still, blooming begonias should be protected from direct sunlight. During flowering, begonia is very responsive to feeding. With proper adherence to agricultural technology and growing conditions, begonia is almost not affected by diseases and pests.
Tuberous begonias are propagated by tubers, seeds and cuttings.
The most effective breeding method is by seed. With this method of propagation, all varietal characteristics are preserved.
In early January, the seeds are sown on the surface, without covering, and covered with glass. Spray as needed from a spray bottle with water at room temperature. When sowing seeds, seedlings appear in about a month. When growing, seedlings dive at least three times. Begonias at any age tolerate transplantation painlessly. Seedlings usually bloom towards the end of summer. The first year of begonia has no dormant period and must overwinter on a windowsill with leaves. And a huge flowering bush, such as is usually depicted on the package, can be obtained only in the third or fourth year from the moment of sowing and only with proper adherence to agricultural technology.
When propagated by cuttings, uterine tubers begin to grow in January. After about a month, the cuttings are broken out by pressing lightly at the base. The damaged areas are disinfected. After a little drying, cuttings, powdered with charcoal with the addition of a growth stimulant, are planted in light soil. Rooting usually occurs in 20-30 days. As a rule, plants grown in this way do not have time to form tubers suitable for winter storage, and they are cultivated as annuals.
With tuberous propagation, strong sprouted tubers are divided into 2-3 parts. It is enough to leave 2 sprouts on the tuber. The division is started at a sprout height of about 1 cm. The places of the cuts are sprinkled with crushed charcoal, gray, or smeared with brilliant green. Division slows down the development of plants somewhat.
With the onset of the first autumn frosts, I cut off the aerial part of the begonias with a pruner, leaving a stump 2 cm high.After slightly shaking off the soil from the roots, I put the tubers in a box and leave them for two weeks in a warm ventilated room. Then I easily remove the remnants of the shoots, add more peat and send it to the cellar for storage. Sometimes, after drying, the most valuable specimens are processed in a foundationol solution, packed in paper bags and stored in the refrigerator.
For those gardeners who have not yet had experience in growing tuberous begonias, I recommend trying. This is a very exciting and rewarding experience. I wish you success!
Photo by the author
"Sadovye Delo" No. 2 (64), 2013