47 (July 1980)
Semperflorens begonias: most are sturdy, easy
The bulk of the plants
in the "begonias with semperflorens
characteristics" group are probably the
most common of all begonias -- those compact
bedding plants known as "wax
begonias" but more properly termed
Semperflorens Cultorum. These have been
hybridized over the years using as an ancestor
the species B. cucullata, once known as
There also are other
species with similar appearance and many
cultivars derived from these species. Another
prominent species in this group is B.
schmidtiana, a many-branched plant with
small, velvety leaves and white to pink
flowers almost all year.
Many new varieties grown
for bedding use are F1 hybrids and come in
different colors. B. 'Butterfly', B.
'Cinderella', B. 'Glamour' series, and
others are sold at nurseries. These have large
flowers (as wide as 3 inches) and make good
pot and hanging basket plants. They have no
special soil requirements and will grow in
full sun except in hot, dry climates. They
also grow in filtered shade. They range in
height from 4 to 18 inches, depending on
begonias are grown in containers with standard
planting mix containing enough coarse organic
material to make the mix porous and
fast-draining. These include, in addition to B.
schmidtiana, such variegated foliage
cultivars as B. 'Calla Lily', B.
'Charm', and B. 'Kallaking';
double-flowering types such as B.
'South Pacific' and B. 'Lucy Locket';
crested-flowered cultivars such as B.
'Thimbleberry'; and the species B.
cucullata and B. leptotricha.
All begonias in this
group will grow in a wide temperature range,
but are at their prime when daytime
temperatures are in the 60s. Frequent pinching
will provide fuller plants with more
bloom. Humidity requirements are not unusual:
any level comfortable for people will do.
A fertilizer program
should depend on a complete fertilizer (such
as 20-30-20) applied every two to three weeks,
with a high-phosphorus (0-10-10) formula
substituted every third or fourth feeding.
Water only when the planting mix feels dry to
the touch. In the ground, semperflorens-like
begonias are almost drought-tolerant once
Except for an occasional
whitefly attack, these begonias are resistant
to insect infestation. But in high-humidity
climates fungus diseases such as powdery
mildew have been known to strike. A dose of a
karathane fungicide will combat diseases and
applications of the systemic fungicide benomyl
work as a preventive.
begonias are propagated easily from tip
cuttings or basal stem cuttings, preferably
without bloom. Cuttings must have at least two
leaf buds, dormant or active, buried in the
a varigated semperflorens-type begonia with
| B. 'Viva', a free-flowering F1
hybrid Semperflorens Cultorum begonia. Photo :
George Ball Co.