The National Begonia Society


John Hamilton
National Begonia Society Cut Bloom Champion  2008   2002
British Begonia Champion  2012  2009  2008  2004
SBS Pot Plant Champion 2012

July part 1

The start of July saw the continuation of the hot weather and with it a new problem Caterpillars.  Another spray to be added to the programme this time a biological one.  It pays to take some time to study your plants and potential problems can be overcome before they become a disaster. At this time of year all my vents and doors are left open as the two essentials for good begonias are fresh air and water.  This does allow moths to enter but it is a risk I am willing to take as the benefits outweigh the problems.  The hot weather is unusual for this part of the country and three weeks of temperatures over thirty degrees had to be overcome.  My solution is to have a sunken path that can be filled with water. The evaporation helps in two ways firstly to reduce the temperature (small physics lesson canít resist water has a high latent heat of evaporation and uses a lot of heat energy for this process). Secondly the higher humidity reduces stress on plants.
The first two weeks of the month have been a busy time with plants receiving their last foliar feed and are now being liquid fed at every watering with an occasional flushing of the compost with plain water.  Due to the sunshine plants have grown quite short jointed and the foliage is quite hard and as a result the first stage of the feeding programme was a high nitrogen feed consisting of equal parts calcium nitrate and mono ammonium phosphate at a rate of a teaspoon of each to a gallon of water.  I mix 50 gallons of feed at a time as I have found this is much quicker and in warm weather is used almost daily.  As the plants have now filled the pot with root additional feed is required and up until the buds are showing colour they are given a balanced feed.
As soon as the high nitrogen feed had softened the leaves the next stage was to start to shape the plants into form that will allow all the flowers to be eventually displayed.  overall, I grow plants forward facing with one exception an all-round plant that is shown at our local village show.  The difference being that this is not staged against a tent wall and needs to be able to be viewed all the way around.
This is a slow process with shoots being eased into position and leaves dressed to allow the flowers to be seen.  After about a week the entire process is repeated as trying to do it in one go can cause shoots to break off and leave a hole in the plant.  The eventual aim is to make sure that each bloom has room to develop and be correctly displayed.
As the plants are to be used for Dundee Flower Show and need to be ready for the 31st. of August the stopping date is the 19th of July.  My timing process is simple with every plant stopped on the one day.  Varieties such as Roy Hartley and Sweet Dreams have the larger buds allowed to develop whereas the others are taken on smaller buds.  Timing is a personal thing and depends on your location.  I do however err on the side of a smaller bud with pot plants. The reason behind this is transportation. Younger fresher flowers are much easier to take to the show. Each shoot is stopped i.e. the growing point removed and two buds allowed to develop.  This does shorten the flowering period but makes final arrangement of blooms easier and has the additional benefit of making the flowers grow slightly larger.
Some plants have been discarded and will be grown on for stock this allows more space in greenhouse.  Next years stock is now growing well in the cold frame and the tops and side shoots have been removed to encourage basal shoots to form.  The cuttings will now be given a weekly feed of a balanced fertiliser as they will have used the feeding up in the 5-inch pots in which they are being grown.

water cooling greenhouse

plant ready for initial staking

pot plants    

plant staked                                        1 week later

stakes added & shoots adjusted

biological caterpillar control

general views of greenhouse

discarded plants and feeding barrel

cuttings in cold frame

rear view of stakes   


British Begonia Champion  12 Cut Blooms   2012

Scottish Championship 9 Pots    2012

John's Open Days
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