The Q&A Archives: Dividing Tuberous Begonias

Question: I've been growing the same begonia bulbs for a number of years and they are getting rather large. I normally start them mid-March by sinking the bulbs about one-half their depth in peat moss. As of today, most of the bulbs have buds and a few have leafy stems about 2 inches high. Is it not a good time to split them? When is the ideal time to split them? Do the cut surfaces need to dry before storage, or in the present case, before setting them back in the peat moss? Or can I split them right as they are in the peat moss? If so, do the cut surfaces need to be dusted with anything to protect them from deterioration?

Answer: Begonia tubers increase in size each year and after three years or so, the flower display will begin to deteriorate. It's best to divide the tubers in the early spring, after the buds have begun to swell. Use a sharp knife and divide into as many pieces as you like, as long as each piece has at least one bud on it. But remember, the smaller the piece, the less food reserves it has and the longer it will take to reach flowering size. The cut edges will be prone to fungus attacks, so leave the tubers on a flat surface for a few hours to dry, or dust them with a fungicide. Then pot up each section, making sure the cut edges are buried, but the shoots are above the soil level.

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