Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Really Pretty Coleus and that Spectacular Begonia 'Bonfire'

The plant with the orange bell-like flowers is begonia 'Bonfire'.

I attempted to keep several starts of my 2010 coleus so I could start cuttings for this year. I used rooting hormone, clipped them to about 1 1/2" to 2", cut off or clipped back half the leaf mass, and stuck them in dirt. They are pretty babies today and very colorful. They'll make great impact in my summer pots.

I always save a number of my nice looking plants every fall. One of the more surprising discoveries happened quite by accident in 2009. I saved one pot with the purple leaved Moses-in-the-boat. I try to grow things as dormant/dry as possible during the winter. The purple Mose can take quite a bit of abuse. I had planted a begonis 'Bonfire' in the same pot that spring. By the beginning of October, the begonia was starting to look pretty dead, so I cut it back to the level of the dirt in the pot. I probably watered the pot four times all winter.

See all those rose colored bumps! My begonia-- "IT'S ALIVE!"

By the beginning of March I fertilized the Moses and started watering it, hoping to get some cuttings rooted by May. A couple weeks go by and I realize the begonia is not dead, simply dormant! Here I thought it was one of the annual begonias, and turns out it is a hybrid between the fibrous and the tuberous varieties.

The root mass has now gone through three summers and two winters. Dormant, the root mass is probably eight inches by 6 inches. During the growing season, it completely filled my 14" pot.! Last year the foliage mass from half the size root was incredible. This year I am considering cutting the thing in half.

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