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CULTURAL DIARY   2016

Tim Jemmott

Begonia Species

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May

The flowering season for my Mexican and Central American begonias is coming to an end Pictured below is B. nelumbifolia in bud, it is one of the largest rhizomatous begonias in section Gireoudia.  It is found from Mexico to Columbia at elevations from sea level about 1000m.  It has peltate leaves [40 x 30cm] and the petioles are covered in small white hairs.

 One of my favourite things about begonias is that they are easily propagated and there are may ways to do this.  A recent article in Begonia Australis the journal of AABS listed 7 techniques for vegetative propagation.  These methods will produce genetically identical replicas [clones] of the original plant.  These are the techniques that I use to propagate begonias; 

1.   Stem/Rhizome cuttings
Take a healthy section of rhizome, cut a way any old or damaged leafs and then pot in potting medium [see March] and water.  Place in a warm light place.  It may help to place the pot in a sealed plastic bag or propagator to raise the humidity.  The cutting should start to grow within a few weeks.  Alternatively, you can root the cutting by placing it in a plastic box with an air-tight lid with some moist chopped sphagnum moss and perlite [see April].
There are some shrub-like species [e.g. B. kellermanii] and more unusually rhizomatous species [e.g. B. goegoenis] that can only be vegetatively propagated this way.
 

2.  Petiole/Leaf wedge cutting
My current favourite propagation technique is to place a petiole cutting or leaf wedge in a small plastic container with an air-tight lid with some moist chopped sphagnum moss and perlite [see April] and place in a light place until it roots, then pot-on using standard potting mix.  I have read that some people prefer to use moistened kitchen towel rather than sphagnum moss.
Petiole cuttings, in my opinion, produce the best results because it gives you plants with multiple growing points.
Leaf wedge cuttings are useful if you have a plant gets into trouble [gets too wet or too cold] you can use this technique to save your plant.  Note, however, the smaller the leaf section the longer it will taken the new plant to grow.
Leaf wedges are useful for species or hybrids with very large leaves, which, makes using the whole leaf impractical.  Although, it is possible to remove most of leaf blade with a sharp knife.
 

 It is, of course, essential to make sure you wash your hands and that all tools, pots and containers are cleaned/sterised prior to use.


B. nelumbifolia


 B. nelumbifolia

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petiole cutting


leaf wedges


rhizome cuttings of B. Beatrice Hadrell potted.


rhizome cuttings of B. Beatrice Hadrell placed in airtight plastic box.


leaf wedges in plastic box with moist sphagnum moss.


leaf wedge cuttings of B. chloroneura starting to grow’

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