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East Anglian Diary   March - June  2005
John Taylor

A New Series following progress in the greenhouse of
Society Membership Secretary, Area Rep. & British Champion.

"I have grown tuberous Begonias for the last 35 years and grown species and rexes for about 15 years.
 I became East Anglian Area Representative in 1994.  I have shown in all types of Begonia classes, but mostly enjoy designing and exhibiting stands for charity."

9th. June
Sutherlandii as you can see has grown on well since last month.  With this variety you must keep a look out for mildew as it is prone to it.  Also this variety seems to want a lot more watering than other baskets, at the moment it is about to come into bloom.

My champagne basket is coming along nicely you can just see a couple of buds forming, I will take off the first buds as they will not always be true to form.   As the buds begin to show I will start to feed this basket with a quarter strength tomato feed, then every fourth watering I will use clear water so as to flush it out to stop the build up of salts.
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My pots are all going along well at the moment, I am taking off all the buds and any late shoots from the tuber.  At this time of year make sure that your shading is adequate as these plants will soon get scorched.

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This one is being grown on as a single bloom so it will want those side shoots taken off.  At this point do not forget to put in a stake at the back of the plant so as it can be tied up as it grows.
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My first cuttings as you can see have rooted, I will now pot them on into a five inch pot and put them outside in the shade, as they develop with about five leaves I will pinch out the growing tip, they should then shoot out from the bottom.  The more shoots you get should give you a larger tuber at the end of the season.

3rd. May
Now is the best time to take cuttings in my opinion, basal cuttings should be broken off with your finger and thumb gripping the cutting as close as you can to the tuber.

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I like to insert my cuttings in a square pot pushing the cutting down the side of the pot in a 70/30 mixture of peat and perlite, I find they root quicker down the side.
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The majority of my pot plants are at this stage at the end of April.  I select stems that have leaves that are facing outwards, all other stems are taken off as cutting material.  At this time of the year the pot plants are never all at the same stage of growth.
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This is a basket of Sutherlandii.  One tuber that is four years old, if you grow this variety watch out for mildew as this variety is usually the first one to catch it if it is about.  Later on I will show you an easy way how to collect the seed from this cultivar.

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This is my basket of champagne just planted up, hopefully it will be ready for our area show on the 13th and 14th of August 2005. In this basket there are three tubers each being two years old.

 

19th. March.
All my tubers are started in cat litter trays, I find them better than seed trays as they are a lot deeper but if you buy any do not forget to drill drainage holes in the bottom.

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The trays are filled with a seed compost and put on a heated bed for 48 hours before the tubers are planted.

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When my tubers are showing little pink pips then they will be planted making sure that the whole of the tuber is completely covered and a label is inserted next to each tuber.

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This is a propagator full of rex leaves that were put in last October and left to grow through the winter.  The leaves had  1 of stem left on and several of the veins at the back were cut with a sharp knife placing them on a mixture of 50% perlite and 50% Vermiculite.

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As you can see they have now put on plenty of roots and are ready for potting on, they are then potted on into a multipurpose compost and watered in.  They will stay in this pot till the end of the year, when they will be repotted into the same size pot but with fresh compost.  Rexs seem to like being root bound.

 

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