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MY WAY OF GROWING BEGONIA REX
by
Tony Reynolds

   I started to grow Begonia Rex about three and a half years ago after being introduced to them by a fellow enthusiast.  After fourteen years of successfully growing Fuschias for the show bench and exhibition I wanted a new challenge.  I have an 8' x 8' cedarwood greenhouse glazed to the floor, with the ridge opening at 55of. a louvre vent on each of the three sides and a half glazed door.  Benches covered with hydroleca, run along all three sides, with shelves above.

   Watering.  Whilst I had much encouragement and help from fellow growers I felt I had to work out for myself a method that suited me.  Therefore the first thing to do was to forget about methods of fuschia cultivation, especially the prolific watering programme.  By comparison B. Rex need very little water and prefer to be kept on the dry side.  I found in the winter months that if I kept the benching damp the plants suffered badly from botrytis, so I stopped watering the benches, placed all my pots in saucers and now water only from the bottom.  Another difference in growing methods is to let the plants get really pot-bound before potting on, rather than to go up a size as soon as new roots show, as with fuschias.  Also it does not seem to matter whether the plants are grown in clay or plastic pots, however some plants grow best in half pots, others in full depth pots.  Martin Johnson and Louise Glosson for example grown in half pots did not grow at all, but since changing to full depth pots are both flourishing.  If I have two plants of the same variety I am now trying one in each type of pot to see if it makes a difference, but this experiment needs more time to reach any conclusions.

   Compost.  I have tried various varieties and for me, Clover Multi-Purpose with added Vermiculite works well.  The picture (above right) is of me holding a 7" half pot of Jackie Corwin.  This plant was given to me three years ago as a small cutting.  I have not changed the pot size or compost for the last two years, but each spring I have fed the plant half-strength Chempak no. 4.  During the rest of the time I use rainwater.  This is the regime I follow for all my plants.

   Light.  On setting up the greenhouse for B.Rex, I lined the inside all over with Rocoleen green net shading.  However this spring I felt it excluded too much light and have removed it from the sides, leaving the rest in place.  This has resulted in better leaf colour.

   Heating.  Throughout the year I ensure the temperature inside the greenhouse does not fall below 50oF. by using a Parwin Electric heater.  When the temperature reaches 50oF this heater will change over to circulating cool air.

July 2003  

 

PICTURES OF TONY'S BEGONIA REX
Gallery One                                  Gallery Two
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