Overwintering Begonias


As fall approaches many gardeners want to bring their flowers indoors to continue to enjoy them throughout the winter. Begonias are the most difficult plants to overwinter because each Begonia type grows differently and needs to be cared for differently. Some Begonias are dormant in the winter and others do not have a dormant period, but continue to grow and flower.


The Basics:

When bringing plants indoors from an outdoor garden there are some things you need to consider. You should make sure your plants are free from insects and diseases before bringing them inside. Indoor conditions can cause stress on most plants, making them more susceptible to damage caused by insects and diseases. Therefore, before you bring your plants inside for the winter you should look them over to prevent the possibility of having to use chemicals indoors.


Your plants will need to adjust to indoor, lower light levels. Some plants drop their outdoor leaves and grow new leaves that are more adequate for indoor conditions, they will continue to drop leaves until they have become fully established. All Begonias need bright, filtered light when brought indoors and some can be grown in full sun. However, do not burn your plants by exposing them to the bright sun if they were grown in the shade previously.


The inside of your house can be very dry due to your heating system which removes water from the air as it heats your home. The lack of water in the air can make it difficult for your plants to survive and you should provide them with a source of humidity. Many people mist their indoor plants, this does help but it only lasts for a short period. A more long term solution would be to use a pebble tray under your plants. A pebble tray is a container that holds water and pebbles, your plants sits on top of the pebbles, not in the water itself. This allows the water to evaporate, increasing the humidity around your plants and creating a "greenhouse" effect.


Begonia Types:

Begonias are incredibly diverse, therefore knowing what type of Begonias you have will help you succeed in overwintering your plants. Many people confuse the Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) with a true begonia; it is not related to the Begonia family. However, it does make a nice houseplant in bright windows throughout the winter.


Rhizomatous Begonias

Rhizomatous Begonias are the easiest Begonias to maintain indoors and they make wonderful houseplants in a bright, filtered light setting. They are winter flowering and provide beautiful foliage and whitish-pink flowers. The way to tell if you have a Rhizomatous Begonia is to look for a rhizome creeping along the surface of the soil. These types of Begonias like to be kept slightly moist and lightly fertilized all winter long. They are never dormant; therefore do not let them dry out.


Cane & Bedding Begonias

Cane and Bedding Begonias look very different but they are both easy to overwinter. Cane begonias need very bright light, but not scorching sun and should be kept slightly moist and lightly fertilized throughout the winter. They are never dormant; therefore do not allow them to dry out. Examples of Cane Begonias includes: Sinbad, Dragon Wing, Gum Drops, Buttered Popcorn, Maribel, Benigo, Burning Bush, Angel Wing and all of the Bedding Begonias that are usually sold for the landscaping.


Rex Begonias:

Rex Begonias are more challenging to overwinter, however with a high humidity level and bright filtered light, they can be gorgeous houseplants. These Begonias need moderate moisture, high humidity and regular fertilization. They are never dormant; therefore do not allow them to dry out. Rex Begonias have electrifying foliage which makes them one of the most desirable plants for indoor and outdoor containers. If you can grow African violets, you can grow Rex Begonias, so give them a try!


Tuberous Begonias

Tuberous Begonias REQUIRE winter dormancy. This means in the fall, you will need to begin reducing the amount of water the plant receives until the tops have died back and the soil is completely dry. Once the plant is completely dormant remove the tuber from the soil, the tuber is usually found where the stem meets the ground. You will need to carefully clean off the tuber, removing soil and old roots and then store it in a warm, dry location. 


In the early spring, tubers can be replanted in fresh soil and given a head start on the season by being placed on a bright windowsill where they will not become chilled. The top of the tuber should be planted at the surface of the soil, do not place it deeper. When you plant the tubers, water them well and add a light fertilizer, do not water them again until the soil is dry or when new stems begin to emerge. It is important that the tubers do not become too wet when they beginning to grow.


When new stems emerge, your tubers are beginning to grow new roots and will need to be given fertilizer and water on a regular basis. Do not let your Tuberous Begonias become soggy; they will become susceptible to root rot if they stay too moist. Most gardeners start their tubers in small pots that are about 4 to 5 inches in size, this way they can be transplanted easier into larger containers.


Remember, it is important to know what type of Begonia plants you have if you want to successfully overwinter your plants.


First Published By www.provenwinners.com



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