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Begonias Are BIG!

Begonias Are BIG!

Ever since Impatiens downy mildew arrived on Cape Cod gardeners have been looking for other plants to provide color in shady gardens. As the Polar Vortex makes us long for spring we are planning for the coming growing season. In many 2014 gardens begonias are sure to be big.

Here are some tips for success with begonias.

  • Most people think of begonias as plants for shade and many of them are. Some of the newer varieties have been selected for sun tolerance as well. People who have pots or window boxes in both sun and shade should look for those begonias that grow well in either situation. Be sure to read the label and match your growing conditions to the right plant.
  • In general begonias want evenly moist but well drained soil. Although this seems like a contradiction, what’s required is regular, deep watering, not daily sprinkling. If the surface of the soil is kept too wet begonias can rot. These are not plants for areas that are hit by automatic irrigation every day. Set up a watering schedule that soaks the area or containers regularly but allows the surface of the soil to dry between waterings.
  • Like most annuals, begonias will flourish when regularly fertilized. Either apply a synthetic fertilizer once a month according to directions, or scatter a mix of equal parts Osmocote and Flower-tone in the area or pot before planting.
  • Don’t plant begonias too early in May. These plants prefer the soil and air to be warm, and cold, wet weather can damage or kill them.
  • Keep in mind that the begonias that are commonly sold as houseplants, such as the Rex varieties that have colorful foliage, make fantastic garden and container plants in the summer. You can enjoy these plants now as we strive to ignore the winter temperatures, and then place the pots on a shady patio or garden for the summer.

    Rose Petticoat is a tuberous begonia. These plants grow best in full to part shade.

    Whopper and Big Begonia varieties from Proven Winners have been selected for their sun tolerance as well as strong growth. If you want the sunny side of your house to be planted with the same window box flowers in the part-shade side, these are the begonias to use.

    Begonias are the perfect annuals to combine with our beloved Hydrangeas. These orange Bonfire Begonias enliven this shade garden.

 

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