Have Tuberous Begonia care been a discouraging gardening project for you?
Once you’ve seen them growing to perfection in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll probably vow to grow them where you are, or else move west.
Along the Pacific Coast the nights are cool and moist—sometimes foggy. The daytime temperatures seldom go beyond 80 degrees and the breezes constantly blow moist air over the begonias.
No wonder the magnificent blooms, sometimes eight inches across, are 90 per cent water! In growing tuberous begonias in Mid-America, the dry heat is the spoiler of high hopes.
The north side of a building is the best growing place… especially if you can place them by an open basement window where cool air will circulate around the plants.
If they are growing in pots, sink these in moist peat moss, and keep this moist through the summer. Daily sprinkling of the foliage is beneficial.
Starting Tuberous Begonias
Be sure that hot dry winds cannot strike the plants.
Start tuberous begonias in March or early in April in a flat containing a mixture of moist peat moss and sand (two parts peat to one of sand). Do not cover them – just snuggle them down in the mixture.
Add water around – not on them. Water standing in the hollow top side of the tuber may start rot.
The tubers will start well in an east or north window where the temperature is above 60 degrees.
In a short time the tubers will send up shoots which develop into husky stems and leaves and a thick network of roots will form around the tuber. When they are three or four inches high, remove the plants from the starting mixture and pot them.
Stepping Up Sprouted Tubers
Use six-inch pots with a little charcoal or broken crockery in the bottom. Fill the pots with a soil mixture consisting of equal parts peat moss, sand and good garden potting soil.
Add 1/4 part dried cow manure. Put 1/4 cup bone meal to each six – inch pot full of mixture. The tubers should be deep enough in the pot so the tuber is barely covered.
It is smart to put a small stake in the pot at the time of potting… staking will probably be needed, and it is difficult to insert a stake later without damaging the tuber or roots.
Moist Not Wet
Keep the plants moist, not drippy wet, and they will grow until time to be put outside. This should be done as soon as the weather becomes settled in the spring, and the frosts are over.
Sink the pots up to the rims in soil. For extra coolness and moisture, excavate an area for the pots and fill in beneath and around them with peat or sphagnum moss which should be moist at all times.
This is a good method for growing them above ground level in planters or window boxes.
Planting Directly in the Ground
Tuberous begonias can be planted directly in the ground in a place where they will be in cool, filtered shade.
The soil should be lightened and enriched. A feeding of liquid plant food every three weeks through the summer will keep them in full bloom.
As a safeguard from pests, squirt the begonias with the same all purpose spray you use on roses and other garden flowers. To keep slugs from disfiguring the leaves, use a few bait pellets around the base of the plants.
Tuberous begonias hybridized and grown in Belgium are most easily obtained from garden stores and through the mail.
Our Pacific Coast breeders have given us the largest and most breath-taking of all begonias – perhaps, of all flowers grown. Try a dozen tubers of these magnificent hybrids.