Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
April, 2001
Regional Report

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Start tuberous begonias now for luminous color in a shady spot this summer.

Tuberous Begonia Bonanza

While making the rounds of my local nursery I noticed a greenhouse display that was gorgeous. It featured 'Non-Stop' tuberous begonias in full regalia. The luxurious blooms were a mix of lovely pastels, rich reds, and a few clear yellows. They reminded me of roses, peonies, or carnations. Their full blooms were loaded with petals that pleased my gardening soul.

Buying Tuberous Begonias

That tuberous begonia display really kicked my gardening blood into high gear. Looking at those large blooming plants on the display table, I knew just one begonia wouldn't be enough to replicate the display in my home. So I decided to buy more, purchasing a number of nice plump tubers in my favorite colors. It's hard to believe that these lumpy, rock-like tubers can grow and bloom like the plants I saw in the display, but they eventually do.

Starting Begonias

Starting begonias indoors at home is easy. Six weeks before your last expected frost date, plant the tubers in shallow pans so the dimpled or dented surface faces upward and the tuber is covered with about a half inch of soilless potting mix. Water once and set the pans in a warm location out of direct sun. Keep the tubers barely moist until they sprout, and once sprouted move them into bright light.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy, fertilize occasionally with a water-soluble fertilizer for flowering plants, and provide them with good air circulation to reduce the chance of fungal infection. When plants are a few inches tall, transplant them into larger pots.

Bringing Them Outdoors

When temperatures moderate and frost is no longer a threat, harden plants off to outdoor conditions over a week or so. Tuberous begonias love shade, so mine will summer on the screened porch on the east side of my house, where they'll receive gentle morning sun and shade the rest of the day. They'll need watering often enough to keep the soil evenly moist and a regular fertilizing routine. In exchange, these plants will provide the begonia bonanza I'm longing for this time of year.

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