> Volume 66 (May/June 1999, pages 106 - 107)
Growing Tuberous Begonias in Michigan
by Gail S. Bones
Here is a picture of our deck garden taken
in July. Everything will grow by an other 30%
until our frosts in mid-September. The deck
rails are 3' high and our oldest tubers (now
in their seventh year) will reach the top rail
Our routine is to place the tuber in lunch
bags in separate cubicles of booze boxes along
the outside wall of our heated basement. We
let the frost kill the leaves first, bringing
the pots under the overhangs until they
totally dry out (no more watering), then
spread out the tubers on paper in the cellar,
their labels with them, until totally
dry-usually mid to late October. At this point
we put them in the cartons, with labels in
bags. We describe them by color, size, and how
they acted ("huge red double
upright" or "dainty yellow hanging,
sprawl-out-of control", etc!). With our
short growing season, we do not attempt to
alter their growing by pruning. They do their
thing and we love them as they are. Now and
then, we'll remove a leaf to let a bloom show
better .. that's it.
We start the tubers in Mid-April, planting
up the ones that are showing only. Usually all
of them are planted by mid-May in shallow
aluminum throwaway (but we keep them) roasting
pans under grow lights in a bedroom window.
They go into pots in late May to mid-June and
outside by late June. (1998 was a warm spring
and everything got accelerated one to two
weeks.) We put two to five tubers in the
hanging baskets lined with moss or cocoa fiber
and two to three in the large deck pots.
Species that are described as 8 to 12"
tall get 3' high for us so staking is always a
problem.. (I suppose with no frost they'd
rival the house in size. I was amused at the
lady's description of a neglected begonia that
rooted to her greenhouse floor and hit the
ceiling, still growing!) We are always hunting
down supports for the huge, heavy blossoms,
usually the ones we bind are too short.
Suggestions on sources would be appreciated.
My husband and I still work, so free time
is taken up with house and yard in our
beautiful summers; we never go anywhere then
and vacation right here, playing host to city
dwellers who escape sweltering heat and the
rat-race. The begonias obviously love our 75º
days and 60º nights. They get morning and
midday sun through the tree leaves and thrive.
Every year we have a large outside party in
mid-August and while most hostesses would be
worrying about the house or food, my concerns
are always only: How are the plants looking?!
They are the subject of lots of oohs &
aahs -- sometimes from people who have never
seen tuberous so large. People pull in the
driveway and inquire what's in the baskets!