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
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.
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.