The Q&A Archives: Tuberous Begonia Tips

Question: I received my second Santa Picotee begonia bulb and planted it some peat/potting soil, in a large pot. The pot was indoors until May. Then I moved the pot outdoors. I water it weekly, but still get no results. I did not receive a planting guide for this bulb. Is this the proper care of the bulb? Can you please tell me what I should be doing differently? Rick Bumpus Cincinnati, OH

Answer: Tuberous begonias should be stored dry until about 2 months before the expected arrival of 50 degree F. nights. Press them, hollow side up, into flats filled with damp peat moss, but do not cover them. When growth starts, pot in 5- to 6-inch pots in a mixture of 2 parts loam, 2 parts peat moss and 1 part well-rotted cow manure. When night temperatures rise above 50 degrees set the plants outdoors. Feed with a weak, all-purpose fertilizer such as 5-10-5 every 2-3 weeks from the time the first shoot appears until the foliage starts to wither. When the plants have died back to the ground, dig up the tubers, allowing some soil to cling to them; place the tubers in a sheltered frost-free spot for a few weeks until they are so dry that their stems and the soil around them break away easily. Store the tubers over the winter in bags of dry vermiculite.

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