Tuberous Begonias

Columbia, SC(Zone 8a)

I've grown begonias for years...but only recently tried the tuberous, double, "camellia-type" begonias. I found these to be beautiful...but very temperamental. And the bulbs that I wanted so desperately to save for next year? About half of them have rotted in pots. These were started outdoors, with large bulbs that were anything but cheap. But each one seems to have reached its blooming size, performed, then declined immediately. I left the bulbs in the pots, turning them on their sides to dry-out. But a week later, I go back and pull out a rotted bulb. Any insight? They're certainly beautiful. But if they're going to be 'annuals,' they're awfully pricey annuals...

Thumbnail by SCBegoniaGuy
Columbia, SC(Zone 8a)

Others...some with darker leaves...

Thumbnail by SCBegoniaGuy
Columbia, SC(Zone 8a)

The most unique flower of all the ones I bought. Beautiful color. Interesting how you get male/female flowers on each.

Thumbnail by SCBegoniaGuy
Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I think it is something to do with the areas we live in. Most folks in the south either grow them as annuals or don't even bother with them. If you had a controlled environment then you would probably have lots more luck. Note the growers in Scotland and California that grow these like "weeds".

Columbia, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks, hc. I wondered about that. I was hoping living by a river would provide enough humidity to compensate for temps around 100 for weeks. It provides nice powdery mildew instead. :) Maybe I'll salvage a couple of the last bulbs and try them in a bright window next year...?

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Keep them in an AC house and you might have better luck. I know that seems kind of weird but the hot temps probably stress the plant too much.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I grow those begonias and overwinter the bulbs in my garage, sans pot. I fight that miserable fungus all summer if I plant them in anything remotely shady. In the fall, after they have been frost bitten, I pull them up, get as much dirt as possible off, then put them in paperbags and then into the coolest part (50-55F) of my garage. They get pretty dry, but never rot. And mostly they grow the next year. I think it would be better if I sprayed them lightly about once a month to prevent the dessication. I pay about $4.95 per bulb so I know what you mean. Have the same problem with geraniums. I pay 12-15 per plant and have managed to keep one over two years, wintering the in the garage. Key is that they have to be cool. You could try your refrigerator I guess.

Athens, PA

Interesting reading. I brought mine in when they were calling for the lows to hit the 30's. I have been watching the foliage slowly start to yellow. I am now wondering if perhaps they should go back outside to get the frost.

thoughts?

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I don't know if this would apply, but with dahlias, you need to let them get good and frost nipped, then leave them about a week, then dig them up. It apparently spurs them on to build up the tuber. Don't know how much they could 'build' in a week, but I tried it this year, and even the ones I propagated (starting with no tuber), had tubers, some wierd looking ones, but tubers.

(Zone 9a)

I had one called Bellagio, a Proven Winners introduction, I picked it up at a growers conference. I expected it to be an annual but it lived for 3 years in a pot - outside. The first year I thought it had died so I just left the pot, soil and all in a bed and the following spring, to my great surprise, it sprouted. This happened again the following year but last winter was just too cold and wet for anything much less a tuberous begonia. I have tried this with other tuberous begonias but I have never had the same luck, they don't even make it through the summer for me.

Athens, PA

I know my MIL was able to carry them over and start them up again. I should see what she did .....

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

Hi Carolynn22, It's good to run across you again! You can carry over Tuberous begonias fairly consistently and easily. I have carried them over for up to 4 years. The only reason I lost the bulbs was not getting them in before a freeze! My tubers all got larger and produced better plants,flowers and had lots of material for cuttings! I was gifted 3 Blackmoore (sp?) tubers twenty years ago. they were splendid three years later!! I just put them in a basket of clean dry potting soil and look at them every two weeks and a little water if they are dehydrated. The bulbs typically sprout in mid Feb. each year. Lee Sherwood McDonald

Athens, PA

Lee

It sounds like you brought the tubers in before we have a frost. Then do you let the foliage die back wilst the pots of tubers are indoors? Do you store the tubers in a cool area that does not freeze for the winter?

I did start mine last February and if I can get them to carry over without losing them, I plan on doing so again.

Any information you can share on this, would be greatly appreciated.

(good to hear from you again!)

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

H1 Carolyn, I have always brought the tubers of Tuberous begonia,caladium,Gloriosa and any any other bulbs I think are tender here in late Sept.I lat them on newspaper after removing all but thr last few inches of top growth off. I then clean all dirt off with a sprayer and my fingers.I dry them and spray lightly with Physan 20. There are many ways to store bulbs I am satisfied with using new soiless mix in lightly ventilated plastic bags. I store them in (God awful looking) 1/4 inch mesh welded wire bins in a cellar stair that does not freeze. I check them every 2 weeks and if they are withered to dehydrated (shrunk) I moisten the soil lightly. i replant Tuberous begonias when I see new growth in mid febuary.If some don't recover I blame something or someone else. Lee Sherwood McDonald

Athens, PA

Lee

Sounds like a plan.

Carolyn

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