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Home > Begonian > Volume 68 (May/June 2001, pages 96 - 98)

B. dichroa Sprague 1906, Brazil
by Iris Bird

B. dichroa is a fairly easy plant to grow because it is not too demanding. It can be grown within a wide range of temperatures and humidity. However, it will grow best when the temperature range is between 60 to 70 degrees and when the humidity is between 40 and 60%. A lot of sunlight is required for this begonia to be vigorous and to bloom well. It can be grown outside in the summer in most areas, provided it is protected from the strong midday sun. In winter this begonia can be grown in the greenhouse or a similar humid spot in a lot of light. It needs protection from the rain and cold winds. If there is an overhanging roof with plastic overhead, it can be hung in a hanging basket up near the top to catch the sunrays. It may be grown under fluorescent lighting and it will be perfectly happy there. There will be no difficulty with this cane-like begonia because it is low growing and slow growing.

If it is placed the usual distance from the tubes, it will thrive and bloom continuously. For anyone who enjoys windowsill plants, B. dichroa will be a colorful addition all year in the sunny window.

It should be fertilized regularly with a complete balanced fertilizer. It is a super begonia for those with limited growing space, as the stems naturally droop, so it can easily be grown in a hanging basket. It is very graceful and lovely with quite large leaves (4-5 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide) on a mature plant.

The value of using B. dichroa in hybridizing was recognized very early because this species is not only a prolific seed-bearer, but it blooms profusely all year with large clusters of orange flowers. In 1938, the Robinsons's of Point Loma, CA developed the following hybrids: B. 'Di-erna', B. 'Di-Anna', and B. 'Di-Shasta'. In 1947, Leslie Woodriff introduced the very well known basket plant B. 'Orange Rubra'. Rudolf Ziesenhenne, the wonderful hybridizer of today who resides in Santa Barbara, introduced the following year, three hybrids which resulted from B. dichroa. They are as follows: B. 'Pink Supreme', B. 'Rose Supreme', and B. 'Scarlet Supreme'. B. 'Lenore Olivier' and B. 'Anna Christine' are also famous begonias introduced by Belva Kusler, a very well known hybridizer.

B. dichroa is an excellent begonia for growers who wish to try a little hybridizing as the flowers are almost always there for the taking. It does not branch very well and this sometimes necessitates occasional pruning of the longer stems to force new shoots at the base of the plant. This will also insure you of a fuller plant.

Our is still very young and has not bloomed as yet. I am anxiously waiting. Bob Golden and I were given cuttings by Eric Seel. I have tried three times to grow from the seed fund offering and I have two plants very small at the moment. 

Hurry up B. dichroa, so we can get some seed and see what happens with that. If you get the chance to get cuttings, do so. It is beautiful.


B. dichroa

B. dichroa as grown and photographed in California by Iris Bird

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