Thursday, January 28, 2010

Begonias in the Winter Window

Begonias in the Winter Window are a perfect topic this time of year. As I walked through our greenhouses today, what really caught my attention were the many varieties of begonias that were just popping with color and form. The Angel Wing
Begonias, named for their leaves that look like Angel’s wings were in the forefront of my vision. Their white dotted leaves looked like they were ready to take flight. The Rex Begonias, with their swirled patterned leaves and the Rhizomatous Begonias that have flowers growing above the foliage were every bit as impressive.

All three types of Begonias are present in the picture above. This begonia display, in one of our seven retail greenhouses, shows the large Angel Wing specimen called Begonia maculata var. ‘Wightii’. The white spots on the leaves are characteristic of ‘Whightii’ and would

challenge even the most detail-oriented artist. The begonia with the white flowers held above the foliage is Begonia ‘Palomar Prince’. This is a rhizomatous begonia. The silver and red swirled

begonias in the middle are rex begonias. The variety shown is B. ‘China Curl’ (pictured in pot).

Our greenhouse grower, Laurie Robillard has been at Logee’s for over 11 years

and is responsible for growing the 75 varieties of Begonias at Logee’s. She is holding Begonia ‘Phoe’s Cleo.’Begonias are a great plant for the novice gardener or the gardener who has low light and low humidity conditions in the home. Begonias were known as the plant of the Victorian era. If you think of Victorian Houses they were never built with light and humidity in mind, yet begonias thrived in these times because they can take less than ideal conditions. In fact, they like to be dried out between waterings. Begonias are fast growing as well. Our begonias start in 2 ½” pots. This is a good time to pinch back the growing tips to make a full, dense specimen. In a matter of 6-8 weeks our 2 ½” pots will easily grow into an 8-inch pot. Remember, Begonias can be kept for years in the same size pot. My begonia at home,

‘Raspberry Swirl’ has been in its 8-inch pot for over 5 years a

nd gets cut back every year. I usually prune at the end of the summer before I bring it back inside.

During the active growing season, which is more or less spring summer and fall, feed begonias with 1/4tsp of organic soluble fertilizer per one gallon of water once a week. Begonias in the winter time

won’t put on a lot of growth unless grown under high light and you want to reduce or stop feed during this time but never-the-less the colorful leaves,

unusual form and textured leaves are sure to delight and ward off the winter blues.

Pictured is "the Long House" which has over a sixty foot stretch dedicated to the many varieties of begonias for sale.

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