Daffodil-flowered begonias, represented by a few varieties, are grown chiefly as oddities, especially by collectors. They are interesting specimen plants to include in a group.
The hollyhock-flowered begonia, B. martiana, is another novelty, with flowers close to the stem. In sun, plants attain two feet, but under lath or in partial shade, they may grow to four feet. The two-inch single blossoms are light pink, darker in sun. This begonia can be grown for background or accent among a group of potted plants or in a wide planter.
A Hardy Begonia
Another tuberous begonia is the so-called hardy type, B. evansiana, which survives winters on Long Island and is hardy from Philadelphia southward. Two-foot plants have handsome pointed leaves, a branching habit, and an abundance of single, light pink flowers. Stems are a contrasting rosy-red, and there is a white form. Several pots of the hardy begonia at the doorway or in a sheltered corner can be a choice item in the container garden.
Maine Success Story
Certainly, tuberous begonias are well adapted to container culture. One enthusiast, Malcolm Cox of Round Pond, Maine, who has been growing prize-winning plants for over thirty years, plants his more than 200 tubers in individual pots and window boxes. He finds that potted plants, arranged in tiers in front of his white colonial house, can be seen better when raised, since the heavy blooms are inclined to face downward. Furthermore, when grown in the ground, they tend to become spattered by rain or by the garden hose. Mr. Cox prepares a special soil for his begonias-two parts light garden soil, one part old cow manure, one part peatmoss, plus a five-inch pot of bonemeal to a wheelbarrow of mixture. In containers,
his begonias are protected by high branching trees that cast filtered shade.
Start Them Indoors
Because of the short growing season in the North, tuberous begonias need an early indoor start to insure bloom by midsummer. Even where the growing period is longer, it is best to start tubers in pots or trays some time between February and April. Tubers can be planted in flats or bulb pans (low pots) in a mixture of equal parts clean sand and peatmoss. Set them with the hollow side up, for this is the top. Barely cover the tubers with the soil mixture and arrange them just an inch or two apart, since they will remain in these flats but a short time. Water sparingly, but do not allow to dry out. A temperature of 70 to 75 degrees F. is fine; if it is cooler, growth will be delayed considerably and you will lose time. Until sprouts appear, light is not necessary, but after that, give full light to insure compact growth. East or west windows are good, but a small greenhouse is even better.