46 (November 1979, pages 262 - 263)
Easy to grow: B. 'Black Raspberry'
by Elda Haring
Very easy to grow and
most charming is B. 'Black Raspberry'. It
always catches the eye of visitors, even those
who do not grow any plants at all.
Classified in the Thompson
Begonia Guide as rhizomatous, medium
leaved, entire-sub- entire, it was originated
by Paul Lowe of Florida, and resulted from a
cross of B. acetosa and B.
The foliage is very
dark, with a pebbly surface carrying minute
white hairs on the surface and leaves measure
3 by 4 inches in size. Leaves are somewhat
heart shaped and there is slight overlapping
at the point where the stem meets the leaf.
The back of the leaf is rosy red, also covered
with tiny white hairs and the stem is hairy
with red dots.
Almost everblooming, the
pale pink flowers are held well over the
handsome foliage. As this is one of my
favorite plants, I grow it in the greenhouse,
under fluorescent lights in the cellar, and on
the sunporch where it receives bright light
but very little direct sun.
It thrives in a rather
heavy potting mix containing loam, peat moss,
and sand as well as in a lighter mix of one
part each of vermiculite and perlite to two
parts of any packaged potting mix. It grows as
happily in my favorite propagation mix of
equal parts of vermiculite, perlite, and
milled sphagnum, fed frequently with
Temperatures in my light
garden range from 65 degrees in the winter to
75 in the summer with humidity around 40% in
winter to 60% in summer.
In the greenhouse in
winter where the nighttime temperature is
about 56 degrees, B. 'Black Raspberry' never
shows any damage as do some of my difficult
The temperatures on our
sunporch stay at about 70 degrees night and
day in winter and go from 70 to 80 in summer.
From my experience it seems evident this
lovely begonia will perform well in almost any
B. 'Black Raspberry' is
propagated easily uncovered in pots or pans by
leaf stem cuttings trimmed to half-dollar size
, by wedges, and by rhizomes. It roots more
readily in early spring at the beginning of
the growing season but can be started at any
time although rooting is slower when
temperatures are low. Even when small, the
plantlets start to throw bloom stalks.
Under the conditions
where I grow my begonias, B. 'Black Raspberry'
stays compact with overlapping leaves.
Specimen plants in six-inch pots retain this
characteristic as well as smaller ones which I
keep root pruned and in four-inch pots.
When I started to
collect begonias years ago, I found myself
choosing green-leaved varieties, but after
visiting Kartuz Greenhouses in Massachusetts
and Logee's in Connecticut, I became
fascinated with the seemingly endless
varieties of begonias with red leaves, dark
blotches and patterns.
In my own collection I
have many of these, some easy to grow, other
'Black Raspberry', grown by Corliss Engle, win
the Sacramento Branch Trophy for best
rhizomatous begonia at the recent "Big
Apple Conveention" in New York.
Corliss' plant also received a cultural
certificate for scoring 94 points.
Photo: Chuck Anderson.