Begonia are one of the genera that always performs come rain or shine. They are particularly valued in our trial grounds for the diverse range and stunning low maintenance displays produced right through from June very often to the first frosts.
The range available is extremely diverse and is able to cover all bases when it comes to suitability to container type or planting style. The luxurious double Fragrant Falls Improved™ has a sweet scent and will cascade along pergolas in baskets; hot red and orange Firewings provides a curtain of tropical shades on the back wall in pouches; the dark foliage of Non-Stop Mocca set a rich backdrop to seemingly everlasting fully double blooms on compact plants in containers or borders.
Given the environmental extremities of last summer, the begonias coped very well. Well known to flourish in humid environments they came into their own after the damp Suffolk mornings followed by the sun-soaked afternoons. Flower production was unbelievable and the single flowering trailing types such as Firewings was self cleaning. The flowers dropped by themselves giving rise to more without any stress to the plant.
The heat experienced at the trials ground did not pose many problems with all varieties remaining free from pests and disease (except from a touch of stem rot as some varieties declined naturally). Stem rot occurred only where plants produced a very thick canopy of leaves and air ventilation was limited from planting too close together. Therefore, it’s a good idea to think about the type of Begonia you have and its habit before spacing your plants.
Begonias have fleshy stems and generally hold water much better than some of the basket and patio plants. The plants were watered every day during peak summer. It was great to see thaton the hottest of days when some other basket plants were wilting, the begonias remained unaffected and continued to grow happily and produce flowers readily.
Later in the season some of the fully double pendula (trailing types) required supports as the sheer volume of flowers put stress on the fleshy stems. We found that short, thin green canes provided the most discreet and effective support. After pushing the canes to the bottom of the container cut them off at no more than 20cms above soil level. When positioned around the outside of the container the canopy of the plant rests on them alleviating the weight of each stem and preventing breakages.