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CULTURAL DIARY   2016

Tim Jemmott

Begonia Species

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December 

Begonia mariti was first described in 1990 by Kathleen Burt-Utley [Brittonia, 42(1), 1990 pp. 38-46].  It is a large rhizomatous begonia with a thick leaf glabrous on its upper surface and hairy underneath.  Its petioles are also covered in small white hairs.  The plant pictured below was grown from seed from the American Begonia Society.  It is not a well-known plant and as far as I know there are no registered hybrids.  It was slow to get established, but, once it got going it has been no trouble to grow under standard conditions.  It should grow to a similar size as B. barkeri.  

Back in April I discussed growing begonias that require extra humidity in a contained atmosphere.  At the time I was experimenting using quite a small container.  As the year went on these small vessels proved to be difficult as the temperature would change very quickly due to the small volume to large surface area ratio.  So I purchased 2 large polyethylene boxes with lids to set up terrariums, 1 of 40 litres and the 60 litres, these have proved much more successful.  I have added heating and lights to further control the environment.

Depending on the direction of the window the sun will heat your terrarium and cook your plants very quickly.  However, the further you move your terrarium from the window the darker it gets.  Too far from the light and the plants will not grow.  LED lights have made artificial lighting quite easy and low energy.  I found this system, Exo Terra Day and Night LED Light, on Amazon [pictured below].  It has white and blue light LEDs and is designed for reptiles and invertebrates that donít require UVb.  It has a plastic arm which is designed to adhere to a glass tank holding the light at the correct distance.  I found this did not adhere well to the plastic box so have fixed it with a clamp.  At 3 watts this is a very low power system.  It is also plug in and play.  I am using it with a plug timer so the terrarium is lit for 14 hours a day.

Iím using a 20W heat mat controlled with an Inkbird day/night thermostat.  Again this is a product designed for the amphibian and reptile market it is priced at £27.00 compare this to the greenhouse equivalent product at £60.00-80.00.  It has  twin plug socket outputs so 2 heat mats can be used to control day [22⁰C] and night [15⁰C] temperature for the terrariums.

 Over the past 12 months I have tried to share my enthusiasm for growing species begonias with you.  Please forgive my bias for Mexican and Central American begonias.  I hope you have found this Diary helpful and I have encouraged some of you to try something new and grow a species begonia or two in the house or greenhouse.  Of course I should probably warn you thatís how it starts with one or two.  And can I also encourage you to sign up with Jeff Rhodes plant swap scheme.

This concludes Tim's excellent series on a subject that before now has not been sufficiently covered within our website,
 we are extremely grateful for this valuable addition.

                                                                                                              Editor
 


B. mariti


B. mariti


B. mariti


B. mariti


Terarium with LED light


Terarium with LED light


 inside terrarium

        
Inkbird
day/night
thermostat

Diary Introduction     February     March     April     May     June     July     August & September     October     November

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