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CULTURAL DIARY   2016

Tim Jemmott

Begonia Species

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April

I was hoping to tell you about the progress of my seeds. Unfortunately, germination was very poor with only 4 seedlings from 14 packets of seeds. So obviously something in my conditions wasn't right, but, that's how it goes sometimes. I will order some more seeds and try again. If you don't succeed at first....!.

Some begonia species will not grow under the standard conditions [temperatures between 13C 25C; relative humidity of 40-60%; good light; and good drainage].

Species requiring extra humidity can be grown in a contained environment [a glass jar, clear plastic container with air tight lid, glass dome or terrarium].
I like to use 2 litre Kilner jar. This technique is straight forward:

1. Select a container of appropriate size for the plant you going to grow.
2. Sterilise the container with boiling water.
3. Place a layer of horticultural grade charcoal [6mm] in the bottom of the container.
4. Then prepare the growing medium. Take some sphagnum moss cut it into short lengths add perlite and mix well. Steep/soak this mixture with boiling water. Let it cool and drain. This mixture of sphagnum moss and perlite keeps well in an airtight plastic box.
5. Take a handful of the growing medium squeeze almost all the water out and place in the jar forming a layer 2.5-7.5cm deep.
6. Add your plant and close the lid.

Place the jar in a light place avoiding direct sun light as the temperature inside jar will rise very quickly killing the plant. They do well under lights. Water as necessary [note very small amounts of water are required], 3-6 months depending on the quality of the seal. These plants require very little fertilizer. The plant pictured is B. iridescens, which, is a small plant from India and Burma.

In January I mentioned B. crassicaulis. from Guatemala, where it grows as an epiphyte in seasonally dry forest. This plant requires a dry dormant period before it flowers. It is now in full bloom see picture below.

The seedling pictured below is a seedling of B. carolineifolia, which, is growing at the bottom of a brick plantar in my conservatory.

This weeks Guardian magazine [23/04/16] has an article by Alys Fowler on growing species begonias as summer bedding. 


B. moysesii under glass dome


B. listada in glass jar.


B. chloroneura in 2l Kilner jar


jar with charcoal and sphagnum moss.


B. moysesii under glass dome


B.crassicaulis


B. iridescens in jar


B. carolineifolia.

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