Customer trial panel member Caroline Broome is a begonia convert! Read why she loves them so much in this latest blog post…
Until about two years ago begonias were completely off my radar, but since T&M sent me some of the tuberous varieties to trial over the summer, I have been hooked.
The plugs arrived in May and I potted them up into 9cm pots: From the word ‘Go’ they were vigorous and trouble free, growing at the rate of knots, so that by the end of that month I could plant them straight into hanging baskets for the patio. Apart from giving them the best possible start by incorporating water retaining gel and slow release fertiliser pellets I pretty much left them to their own devices. Throughout all the wind and rain that summer threw at us they flowered their hearts out! If I forgot to water them when it was hot and sunny they didn’t flag. They are disease free and they dead head themselves, flowering right into early November! Unlike petunias that go sticky and leggy or impatiens that need constant watering and deadheading, tuberous begonias are ideal for busy people who only get to enjoy gardening at weekends.
Not wanting to lose them at the end of the season I decided to have a go at over wintering them. As the stems started to wither and die off at the first frosts, I lifted them, cut them back to about 3”, turned them upside down and let them dry off until the stumps fell away from the tubers. I dusted them off with antifungal powder, picked out the odd vine weevil larvae, then put them into egg boxes. As I stored them away in an upstairs drawer, I fully expected to find them mouldy and rotten in the new year, but was amazed to see little pips forming as early as February. Once brought out into the light they quickly sent out shoots. In late March they were transplanted into 9” pots in the heated greenhouse and off they went again for another successful begonia year.
‘Apricot Shades Improved’ are bright, bold and blousy and fit into any scheme, from cottage garden to tropical terrace. More pastel ‘Fragrant Fountains® Mixed’ smell delicious – if you like old roses and peonies you will love these romantic blooms. Six plants is all you need to fill a large wicker hanging basket to bursting point. The traditional method of mixing colours amongst single varieties of bedding plant, which does not appeal to me at all, somehow works with begonias. The peaches, creams, oranges and pinks all work together harmoniously to create a real impact. Glossy dark leaved ‘Non-Stop Mocca’ make the most wonderful fillers for terracotta tubs: red around the base of cannas or with Ipomea Sweet Caroline Bronze or Light Green, or white with cool hostas. Those crisp shiny dark leaves can hardly be associated with Victorian municipal bedding schemes!
I urge the uninitiated to give them a go. They are easy care, good value and show stopping and I wouldn’t be without them now.