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CULTURAL DIARY   2016

Tim Jemmott

Begonia Species

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July

I am very pleased to be able to tell you that I have applied for and have been awarded a National Collection of Begonias.
The title is: Begonia: Mesoamerican Begonias of the Section Gireoudia.
The category of the collection is Reference. 

The collection is made up of species and some of the botanical variants of these species.  The number for plants currently included in the collection is 21 species, however, this should increase to around  40 species in the next 6-12 months. 

Some of the first begonias I purchased were begonia hybrids.  When I started to research these plants in more detail and read Mark Tebbitt's book Begonias: Cultivation, Identification and Natural History [2005] I realised 9 out of the 14 hybrids I was growing were closely related all belonging to the section Gireoudia.  This knowledge has really driven my interest in the parent plants of these hybrids and then other plants in this section. 

Plants of the section Gireoudia have always been very popular with the hybridisers.  Indeed, some of the earliest recorded begonia hybrid are from this section e.g. B. Erythrophylla  1845 B. Ricinifoia 1847 and B. Verschaffeltii 1853.  

These are some of my favorite begonia hybrids;
B. Erythrophylla
commonly known as the beef stake begonia despite having an RHS AGM award its not that easy to find these days.  It gets its common name from the red colour of the underside of its leafs.  It is a hybrid of B. manicata and B. hydrocotyifolia.  Its a large, easy to grow rhizomatous hybrid.
B. Ricinifolia
is a very large rhizomatous [monster class] its rhizome will grow to diameter of about 5cm, with star shape leafs up to 45cm across and petioles up to 60cm in length.  Its also very hirsute.  Its parent plant are B. heracleifolia and B. barkeri.
B. Verschaffeltii
was name after the head garden of Berlin Botanical Garden.  It is a hybrid of B. manicata var. manicata and B. carolineifolia.  It is another very large plant similar size to B. Ricinifolia.
B. Brown Lake
is another large clump forming rhizomatous begonia it is a cross between B. glandulosa and B. ludicra and is part of a group of cultivars known as the Skeezar group produced by Ziennhiem in USA in 1946.   B. ludicra is a Mexican begonia but belongs to the section Welbachia.
B. Beatrice Haddrell is a small/medium sized hybrid of B. bowerae and B. heracleifolia var. sunderbruckii 1955 with purple leaf with a splash of lime green in the centre of the leaf.  Colour of the leaf can be variable depending on where its growing i.e. how much light is available.  Very easy.
B. Barclay-Griffith
is a cross between  B. bowerae and B. Clifton and is another one that makes a really good house plant. 

Summer has arrived and everything is growing well.  The leaf wedge cuttings and petiole cutting I started in May are now ready to pot on.  Gently remove excess sphagnum moss from the cutting and pot in small pot using the standard potting mix [see March]. 

I started some more seeds the end of June.  Fortunately, I have had some success this time.  Pictured below are newly germinated seedlings of B. pringlei, B. garagarana, and B. heracleifolia var. longipila.

I have pricked out B. heracleifolia var. longipila into a seed tray today again using the standard mix.  I will keep the seedlings covered at the moment to maintain high humidity, but, slowly increase the ventilation as the seedling get bigger.
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B. Barclay-Griffiths


Leaf wedge cutting B. Haddrell


B.Erythrophylla


B.Erythrophylla rear view.


 B. Ricinifolia


B. Brown Lake


B. Verschaffeltii 


B. Beatrice Haddrell

                  

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