How to Plant Begonia Bulbs
Tuberous begonias are popular all over the world. Not only do they have attractive flowers, but their foliage can be quite interesting, too. They can brighten up both your indoor and outdoor gardens.
How & When to Plant Begonias
Begonias should be planted 8-12 inches apart and planted even with the soil surface and just enough soil to cover the top of the bulb.
How to Start Begonias Indoors
If you choose to start your Begonia tubers indoors, use a loose well-drained soil mix that drains well. The begonias like to be put in a temperature of about 64 degrees Fahrenheit, however, they do not seem to mind higher temperatures. After the tubers have sprouted and you can see small leaves, transfer the tubers to a five inch pot and cover them with compost. If you plan on using the begonias in an outdoor garden, begin getting your begonias acclimated to the temperature outdoors in stages. This process should probably begin towards the end of May. After a week, if the threat of frost has passed, you may leave your begonia plants outside all night. Transplant outdoors after the begonias have grown 4 or 5 inches. Mulch around the begonias with 2 inches of compost or wood chips.
How to Start Begonias Outside
If you start the tubers outside, the ground should be loose and well drained. It should be moist but not soggy. Do not plant them outside until all danger of frost is past. Place the tubers in the soil mix with the hollow side up. Make sure that the top of the tuber is level with the soil surface. Water lightly. Once the bulbs have started sprouting and growing, water enough to keep the soil moist. Begonias like a place that is moist and partially shaded. If they happen to be in the sun for most of the day, then you should water your begonias frequently in order to prevent bud drop.
How to Care for Begonias
The tuberous begonias will bloom from June or July until frost. Plants started indoors will bloom several weeks earlier than those started outside. They do not require much care once established. Keep their soil moist but not soggy; the tubers will rot if they get too much water. Feed Begonias with a well-balanced plant food every 2 to 3 weeks. Deadhead all your Begonias regularly; removing wilted leaves and flowers encourages them to produce more blooms.
If you are in an area that does not freeze, you may leave your tubers in the ground over the winter; Simply make sure that they stay dry. If you are in an area that freezes in the winter, dig up the tuber after the first frost has killed back the foliage and remove all loose dirt from the roots. Cut out any rotten spots with a knife. Let them rest in a warm place for a few days until the tubers dry up. Gently pull the roots and the rest of the leaves and stems from the tuber. If you cannot remove them easily, the tuber is not dry enough and should be left to dry for a few more days. Once the tubers are dry, place them in individual paper bags, and put the bags in a cardboard box. Store the box in a dry place that is cool but not cold. Tubers grown in pots can be stored in the pot in a dry place. There is no need to dig them up. Put them back outside in the spring for an early start on your flowers.
Properly stored, tuberous Begonias will give you years of vibrant, eye-popping blooms to brighten up your shady garden areas. So get your tubers started this spring for a show- stopping summer!