August 17, 2010

Begonias in the Permanent Landscape

Begonia "PHOES Cleo"
Begonia 'Flamingo'
Begonia 'Black Coffee'
Begonias are another group of plants which can really fill in a specialized landscape niche, either in sun or shade. They only require good deep soil to grow in, regular water, and slow-release fertilizer. As with many plant groups, there are planting options for short, tall, groundcover, semi-aquatic, all-day sun and deep shade locations. Once again we see a plant society ( The Miami Begonia Society) to promote this group, and once again we have that great confluence of amenable climate, local expertise, and good suppliers. Let me focus on some of my favorite plants for landscape use, starting with one of the most robust types, the Cane Begonias. Many of the pink-flowered cane types grow really well here, such as 'Flamingo', which likes lots of sunlight and can grow to 8 feet or more. Some of the rhizome types make good groundcovers, such as Begonia 'Morocco' and 'Black Coffee'.One of the most rewarding aspects of growing begonias is that they are so easy to propagate. Simply snap off a branch or a piece of rhizome, root it in african violet soil in a a shady spot, and then transplant it into the garden when it's well rooted. There are easily 100 varieties of begonias suited for your permanent landscape, and all it takes is a few small plants to start with. They grow in shade or sun, propagate easily, and respond quickly to fertilizer and almost any level of care. 

Begonia 'Caravan'

Begonia soli-mutata
Begonia rhizome propagation, courtesy of Brad's begonias 

" So many species, so little time"
Boynton Botanicals Nursery motto

Craig Morell 
Pinecrest Gardens

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