47 (July 1980)
Trailing-scandent begonias: grow up or down
Trailing-scandent begonias grow vine-like, usually
with many branches, and lend themselves superbly to hanging baskets or
being. trained up posts, trellises, and "totem poles." Most are packed
with small leaves and bloom in clusters more or less profusely, the
flowering season varying from plant to plant.
These begonias are good subjects to grow hanging from
tree limbs, under lath covers or greenhouse roofs, and in front of large
Some trailing-scandent begonias you may find are B.
convulvulacea, B. 'Ellen Dee', B. 'Elsie M. Frey', B.
fagifolia, B. glabra, B. mannii, B. 'Marjorie Daw',
B. polygonoides, B. procumbens, B. 'Shippy's
Garland', and B. 'Splotches'.
These begonias need plenty of light, even some
sunlight, but no intense midday sun. Good light will help produce a full
plant with lots of bloom. If leaf stems elongate and the space between
stem joints gets larger, you know the plant needs more light. if the
foliage pales, you are providing excessive light.
The usual comfortable temperature range for people, 58
to 72 degrees F., is right for trailing-scandent begonias. The humidity
requirement is average for begonias -- 40 to 60 percent or so.
Potting is more crucial than with some other begonias
because the long, pendulous stems are sometimes fragile. if you use
plastic containers, be careful not to overwater. Some feel clay, wood, or
moss-lined wire baskets are better. A squat or somewhat shallow container
is best, because the begonias are shallow rooted.
Don't overpot. When potting up, put a plant in a new
container only one size larger than the present one. Too much extra space
can produce weak plants and retain so much water plants drown.
Staking isn't necessary, but pruning and pinching can
make the difference between a so-so plant and a great one. Prune out old
stems with long bare sections. Pinch stems often to encourage branching
and to obtain stems of varying lengths resulting in a full, shapely
Water when the planter mix feels dry to the touch. If
weather is warm or the plant seems to dry out faster than other begonias
because it is in a hanging basket, water a bit more frequently. Spraying
leaves with water in the morning increases humidity and washes off dust. A
complete fertilizer used throughout the active growing season should be
supplemented just before and during the blooming season with a
Trailing-scandent begonias can be propagated easily
using stem cuttings, especially tip cuttings you create when you pinch and
This free-flowering species listed in the Rosecroft
Begonia Gardens catalog as B. alba scandens in the 1920s, probably is B.
glabra. Photo: Alfred D. Robinson Collection.