Home > Begonian > Volume 68 (May/June 2001, pages 96 - 98)
B. dichroa Sprague
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
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
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 as grown and photographed in
California by Iris Bird