Friday, August 30, 2019

Lovely Leaves

Last Saturday I attended a Begonia Show & Sale put on by the local chapter of the American Begonia Society. 



I'd intended to arrive near the 9am starting time but didn't manage to get there until nearly 11:30am, by which time the tables were nearly cleared of sale items so I focused on the show specimens.  Here are some of my favorites:

Begonia 'Andrea'

Both of these were purchased by the same exhibitor as Begonia 'Celia'.  They were hybridized by different growers.

Begonia 'Cleopatra'

Begonia 'Joe Hayden'

Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery'

Begonia masoniana

Begonia medora

Begonia moysii

Begonia semperflorens 'Charm'

I couldn't find the label for this one but I think it could be Begonia 'Summerwings'

Begonia 'White Ice'

Begonia yananoli


I've always loved Begonias, especially the Rex Begonias grown primarily for their foliage.  I grew them in the ground in my former shady garden but, even pampered in pots, I've had a harder time keeping them alive in my current garden.  My lath (shade) house has helped but I have to be careful in managing their water as I seem to vacillate wildly between under- and over-watering them.

Despite the sparse supply of sale items when I arrived, I picked up 2 new plants in 4-inch pots.

I've replanted both in slightly larger pots than the plastic ones they came in.  The one on the left is 'Amberley' and the one on the right is 'Bundy Plum'.


These augmented my existing small collection.

From left to right are: 'Little Darling', a noID specimen, and 'Palomar Prince'.  I have 2 others that were camera shy as they're not currently looking their best.


Do you grow begonias?  Do you have any favorites or, more important, any tips for keeping them healthy?


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. There were some very nice specimens at the show. I don't have any tips on growing them. I do have a couple that I love. My favorite right now is an enormous 'Little Brother Montgomery' that I got from Loree at the spring plant swap, so I can't really take full credit for how well it's doing. It was already a good size, but it has thrived this summer after I repotted it. I love Begonia luxurians too. I hope yours all grow well for you.

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    1. For some reason - probably the name - I though 'Little Brother Montgomery' would be a smaller plant. He was quite stately, at least for a begonia.

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  2. A friend has a wonderful collection, heavy on the Rexes, but I've never tried them. Pretty smitten with that 'Joe Hayden', though...

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    1. I probably shouldn't go all in on the plants until I'm sure I can so a decent job keeping them alive. I suspect I'm already pushing my luck with the small collection I have.

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  3. I love begonias. I don't have great luck with them but I continue to try them. I had one that looked like Joe Hayden but it's name was Black Truffles. Several that you pictured I have had before but with different names. I like your new selections specially Bundy Plums. I currently have two begonias. One is much like your Bundy Plums but I bought it at a big box store and it was unnamed. The other looks like 'Summerwings'. It hasn't fared well in my care. I have tried keeping it wet to keeping it dry. It just doesn't like anything I have done for it. I wouldn't begin to tell someone how to take care of one. It would be disastrous. I can say the one I go at the big box store had a wick in it. Like people used to do with african violets. It has done quite well. I hope to overwinter it.

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    1. I previously tried growing the Rex Begonias in African violet pots - that worked for awhile. Our normally dry air is probably my biggest issue in keeping them healthy.

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  4. What a diverse genus begonias are. They offer so many variations, most easy to grow. That said, for some reason, I kill them, lol! I think our summers are fine for them, but in the house in winter, it gets too dry and chilly at night. On top of that, I think our water is too hard for their liking. I have many fond memories of ones I was able to grow successfully in the distant past. I remember my mom had a cherry-red double wax begonia on the windowsill that I loved. They are hard to find now.

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    1. My old shady garden was near ideal for both the Rhizomatous and Rex begonias but shade is comparatively limited here and the plants haven't been nearly as happy. I just moved the plants in my lath house around to give the begonias a more prominent spot, which I'm hoping will keep me on my toes when it comes to watering them.

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  5. Begonias are such lovely plants that do so well in shade. I appreciate them more and more over the years. The Charm begonia I remember from 40 years ago and haven't seen it for sale for ages. Brought back many memories.

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    1. I'd never seen 'Charm' before and was disappointed that there were none on sale but then, as I arrived late, perhaps I just missed them.

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  6. I used to have sooo many begonias, but I'm down to 3 at the present. They have to be put out of harms way in the winter- and gradually lost many to either too much frost or too much heat.I always grow them in terra-cotta and have never lost one to rot. If I ever come up with a good shade spot for them I wouldn't hesitate to collect them again

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    1. Well, you know winter isn't the problem here, Kathy. Summer is another matter. I was somewhat hesitant about planting 'Amberley' in a terracotta pot so I'm glad to hear that worked out well for you.

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  7. I never used to like them and I had no success with B.Rex, but recently I have become more interested and I grow a few for their wonderful leaves. What a wonderful selection.

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    1. I think Rex Begonias are the perfect foliage plants for flower fixated gardeners like myself, Chloris. Now if I can only get the hang of taking care of them in this climate!

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  8. I have not grown begonias, but your post has certainly peaked my interest! In recent years, I've become a huge fan of plants with interesting foliage - my favourite pot combinations this year are the grouping of coleus on my shady front porch. I'm thinking that a Rex begonia or two would fit in perfectly in that area - an idea for next year.

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    1. I love coleus too, Margaret. While I have a few of those plants in my lath house, I haven't used them as widely this summer as in prior years, principally because so many of my pots had to be emptied to make space for our construction activity. I'll be sooo glad when that's done, should it ever happen :(

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  9. I used to grow a lot of tuberous begonias in our old house and they were fabulous. Not so much in our new one. However, my absolute favourite is Begonia boliviensis (might be the one you id'd as Summerwings). It grows to a huge size and flowers all summer. Has won me three consecutive best in shows at our local agricultural fair.

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    1. My favorite mail order nursery offers 3 varieties of Begonia boliviensis and, following your testimonial Elaine, I've just put one of them on my wish list. They periodically offer Begonia luxurians (mentioned by Alison above) too, which I'd love to have but I fear I can't provide the humidity it wants, at least not consistently.

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  10. What a variety. I can understand why people are drawn to collecting them because you really don't have rely on flowering because their leaves are so gorgeous. I have two which are passalongs but they are quite common. Beefsteak, and one gardeners supply left me a few years ago. I believe it is a cane begonia 'mathchmaker'I only asked for a leaf and they gave me the plant. They are struggling a little because I had to put them outside when we were gone for two months. They're still out there. Need to fertilize think.

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    1. If they survived for 2 months on their own, Jenny, those are 2 tough plants and well worth a little babying until they regain their strength!

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  11. Oh those are lovely! The leaves are more spectacular than a lot of flowers. Makes me wish I had a glasshouse conservatory.

    Can only grow a few tough cane-types here because the Santa Ana winds are so brutal, and they get pretty battered (but survive, most of the time).

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    1. I've found myself dreaming of a glasshouse again as well, although there's no space for one and I imagine keeping the contents from roasting during the summer months could be a challenge. We added the shade screens to the lath house early this year to avoid the kind of minor disaster I had last year when the temperature soared to 110F. The increased shade is benefiting some plants but of course there are others that would probably like a bit more light.

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