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Begonias - My Hobby
An Occasional Page by Dave Staines
 CONSOLIDATING


A


B


C


D

A:  Time now for me to begin re-arranging the staging as I mentioned on my "Preparations" page under "D". This will mean I will need to put most of the plants outside whilst I move the staging around but there is a plus as it means I can clean the floor. I shall need to be selective when replacing the plants as many of these won't fit back on the staging with the new lay-out. Have you noticed the small leaf plant on the front corner of the lower staging on the right? This is B.Veitchii, one of the original Andean tuberous species that today's large tuberous doubles have been bred from. As this is the only plant I have of it I'm loathe to put it where I can't see it in case something happens to it and I lose it.
B:  With the plants now outside with some of the staging I can check each plant separately. In this one's case I will raise the tie and remove the two flower buds as they are not yet required as they will be open before the shows they are being grown for.
C:   As previously mentioned the buds are facing the way the leaves point. The small red leaf on the right below the largest bud is from a side shoot that is not required so I shall remove it at this stage along with the two buds.
D:
   With the bud severed a portion of the stem is left on the plant. A close watch should be kept on this as the plant will eject this stump and it should be removed as it may cause rot between the leaf axil if allowed to remain. When removing the topmost bud be careful not to damage the growing tip as this is where the new embryo bud is forming and this may well be the bud that will be allowed to grow and become the show bloom.


E


F


G


H

E:  This is it then. The new lay-out and already I'm not sure about the centre staging as it may be too high. As with my various compost mixes I'll decide if any changes are needed at the end of the season. The plants you see here are all single stem and are being grown for cut blooms which means allowing only one bloom to grow on each plant. As only the flower is taken to the show the clay pot you see on the right will not be seen by the judges. Larger multi stemmed plants are behind these on the centre staging for the pot plant classes. These are grown in plastic pots as they are easier to clean before being placed on the show bench.
F:
 This is a three stem pot plant with a number of side shoots growing between the leaf axils on each stem. I am now looking to begin "dressing" this plant for placing on the show bench in due course.
G:
 Note how the younger leaves are pushing up beneath the larger ones. These younger leaves are assisted by being lifted onto the top of the larger one. I shall go right round the plant adjusting all leaves where possible before placing the bloom supports in the pot where the blooms will come through the leaves. A word of warning here. Do not attempt to adjust the leaves if you have recently watered the plant as they will be full of water and are likely to snap as you try to adjust them. The best time to adjust them is just before you water the plant as they will be more pliable.
H:
  The lowest side shoot on each stem will now have the growing tip removed to encourage the two or three remaining leaves to grow which will help in filling out the base of the plant with leaves. No flowers are grown on these lower stems so any buds that may be present are also removed. When growing your plants for show timing what you do and when is important as you will want your plants and blooms at their peak on the day of judging.


I


J


K


L

I:  These are the bloom supports I mainly use to hold the fully open flowers up. The green one on the left is available from Blackmore & Langdon and the white one on the right is available from The National Begonia Society. Each are designed to extend to support the bloom when it is fully open and may be used to "encourage" the bloom to move to where you want it. The B&L one is pushed upwards whereas the N.B.S. one has the "D" spring depressed between finger and thumb and raised. Releasing the spring locks the support in place. Whichever type is used special care should be taken not to push the bloom off the plant when adjusting it. It is good practice to test the support before placing it in the pot and should it be found that it sticks it should be extended fully and the stems given a rub down with emery paper to help remove any impediments to the smooth flow of the stems.
J:
  Two supports in place ready to be raised to support the blooms that will eventually appear above them. Note how the "D" springs face where I can get hold of them. A little thought now will make things much easier later.
K:
  Many of the cuttings are now rooted and potted into 3" pots. The bench on the other side is also full of 3" pots with some possibly becoming "parents" of next years seedlings.
L:
 The seedlings now planted in the front garden beds. These are laid out in each cross so when they flower the colours are in blocks. The label of the cross is pushed down beside the brick at the beginning of the row so I can relate to the parentage in future should anything "special" appear.

BEGONIAS MY HOBBY  by  DAVE STAINES
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