The Begonia Story
How Begonias are produced. What do you need to look out for when purchasing Begonias?
- Indoors or outdoors? It is important to know whether they are more suited for indoor or outdoor use. Some varieties are offered specifically as garden or patio Begonias.
- Health. When buying Begonias it is important that the plants are healthy, without pests or diseases.
- Damage. If the flowers or leaves are damaged, this has probably occurred through transportation or storage. There can also be dead flowers or yellow leaves on the plant. Also look out for mildew growing on the leaves.
- Moisture. When there has been a long period of too much condensation on the leaves, Botrytis can occur. If the plant has been sleeved and the leaves have got wet, the sleeve needs to be removed as soon as possible.
- Maturity. It is important not to buy too immature plants, especially in the darker months. If the buds or flowers don’t get enough light, they can fall off or stay closed.
Creative tips for the Begonia
Both the flowering Begonia and the Begonia Rex, are the Houseplants of the month of October 2015.
The Begonia originates from the humid rainforests of Asia, Africa and America. There are around 1,000 different varieties in the Begoniaceae family. The plants are a symbol of self-protection and ‘our love has been discovered’; Great to advertise on the shop floor! They are also a symbol of balance when used in funeral flower arrangements.
In 1690, the French botanist and monk, Charles Plumier, named the Begonia after his patron Michel Bégon (1638-1710). He was the intendant of San Domingo, later governor of Canada and protector of botanical science. The Begonia is produced in stone pots in some countries, such as France, but this doesn’t happen in the Netherlands anymore. The Begonia Elatior and Begonia Rex are recognised as houseplants and all the other types of Begonia are recognised as garden plants.
Pot size, buds and maturity. When buying Begonias it is especially important to look out for pot size, shape, diameter, thickness of the plant, number of flower buds and the maturity.
The range of Begonias is really extensive. The most well-known flowering group is the Begonia Elatior Group. These are single flowering, semi-double flowering and double flowering plants. The Bodinia Line is new, with extra double flowering flowers and curly leaves. A ‘classic’ in the range for Christmas is the Begonia Lorraine Group, with smaller flowers and a trailing shape. Within the Begonia Rex group, there are lovely leaf colours and shapes. The Begonia Boweri Group is a classic within this range.
Begonias love a light position indoors and a slightly sunny position in the garden (in summer). Ensure that the root ball never dries out, so give it regular water. To keep the plant healthy for a long time it is essential to give it plant food every three weeks. It is also worthwhile to carefully remove dead flowers and old leaves. Avoid temperature changes and draughts and never place the plant near sources of ethylene such as vegetables or fruit, as this causes buds to drop off.
The Begonia is actually very versatile. It looks lovely and vintage in an old, stone pot but its character changes completely in a lovely, natural pot. The flowering plant will add colour in a light modern pot.