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Begonias - My Hobby
An Occasional Page by Dave Staines
 PROPAGATING


A


B


C


D

A: I've brought out all of the seedlings from the greenhouse into the front garden ready to be put under the car port for hardening off.  I normally bring them out in early June but the weather is promising so they are out in the first week of May. I'll watch the weather forecast closely and either cover them with horticultural fleece or put them back in the greenhouse if frost is imminent.  Each tray is given a good soaking from the base before being placed on the planks.
B: All done with just enough space on the planks for all of them.  With very limited growing space for the seedlings I find the maximum I can reasonably accommodate is around 500.
C:  The seedling beds in the front garden.  I did say space is limited, although I do have a small growing bed along the side of the big greenhouse in the back garden.  The white bits are Oyster shell which I hope will help keep the Calcium level up as it breaks down over the years.  The green bits are weeds that will be removed when I dig and level the beds ready for planting the seedlings.  The turned soil is where I've cleaned up after the local cats!!
D:
  There's no stopping them now!!  Early June and if only the rain would stop I'd start planting them out.


E


F


G


H

E: Many plants are now putting up multi stems from the tubers and a few of these may be removed as cuttings to perpetuate your stock and possibly to raise a new variety.  More about that in a future article.
F:
 This plant is to be grown with three stems to create an all round pot plant so this stem will be removed as a cutting which will allow the remaining three stems to grow outwards in a "Y" formation.  The blooms on each stem will face the way the leaves on that stem point.
G:
With the plant removed from the pot and turned an "eye" may be clearly seen on the base of the stem to be removed.  It is important to retain this "eye" on the cutting to assist in the formation of a viable tuber on the cutting once it becomes dormant towards the end of the growing season.
H:
Using a sharp blade the cutting is taken just below the "eye".


I


J


K


L

I:  A dusting of Sulphur Powder is applied to the cut surface of the tuber to assist in drying the wound and to deter airborne diseases from infecting the tuber.
J:
This is now a good time to pot on into a larger pot allowing a 2" increase in pot size. 5" into 7" or 6" into 8" and so on.
K:
Place fresh compost into the base of the larger pot and taking an identical pot that the plant is growing in place it in the centre of the larger pot so it comes up to the inner lip of the larger pot.
L:
Fill in around the edge of the inner pot with fresh compost up to the inner lip of the large pot.


M


N


O


P

M: Remove the smaller pot and you have the correct size hole for the root ball to fill.
N:
I like to just tease the roots out a little to encourage them to enter the fresh compost
O:
The plant is gently lowered into the new pot and topped up with fresh compost.  Place a separate stake for each stem at the rear edge of the pot as these will be used to draw the stems outwards with twine to help form the "Y".  As the stems grow new ties are added to continue shaping the plant.
P:
When the cutting was taken it was placed in a jar of water with a label of the variety and the date taken attached before the plant was potted on. As the main leaf was rather large I removed approximately one third to help reduce transpiration.


Q


R


S


T

Q: This is how I start all of my cuttings.  Placed in a jar of water that only just covers the base of the cutting.  Too much water will cause the stem to rot before roots begin to form.
R:
Sometimes when you take your cutting you may be lucky to find it has a few roots attached.  I still place them in water and when I have a few with roots available I mix a gritty compost and pot them on in batches into 3" pots.
S:
Various cuttings waiting to root and once they show roots they are placed to one side until I have a batch ready for potting.  This bench rapidly becomes full of jars so it is very important to check them all daily and to top them up where necessary.
T:
How quickly the plants grow.  At the moment none of the leaves are touching but they will very soon need spreading out.  Beware of the stakes when you bend forward for any reason as you may lose an eye!!  Unfortunately I've run out of the rubber "eye stoppers" but a small piece of coloured paper attached to the top of the stake should act as a warning.

BEGONIAS MY HOBBY  by  DAVE STAINES
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