> Volume 67 (July/August 2000, pages 134 - 135)
Begonia Growing in New Zealand
by Ian McNeur
Being a narrow island country between latitudes 341
and 480 south, New Zealand has a relatively mild climate without extremes
of heat and cold. Because of this, tuberous begonias can be grown in a
partly shaded place outdoors, or in a shadehouse anywhere in the country.
Evergreen types are more suited to the northern parts, but a few are gown
under protection in the south.
Because of this, to most New Zealanders a begonia is a
large flowered beauty and the uninitiated wouldn't know there was any
other kind. Our journal Begonia News covers a wide range of topics
but mostly relating to tuberous begonias.
Some growers import named varieties from Britain and
Australia and make them available to other growers around the country so
that the worlds best flowers are available here. The shops sell a
miscellaneous collection of tubers and some of us do our own hybridizing
to see what we can improve on.
Most reasonable sized towns have public gardens with
conservatories featuring tuberous begonias during summer.
One thing that British visitors comment on is the
number of basket type begonias (pendulas) that we have, as they normally
form a large part of a grower's display. A few of the old fashioned,
narrow petaled type are still sold, but most pendulas used have good
quality roseform flowers based on plants selected from Antonelli Brothers
As there have been no competitive begonia shows here
in the past, we are not prodded towards any rules determining what a good
flower or display should be and everyone has their own way of growing and
displaying their own favourite plants. The smooth symmetry of Blackmore
and Langdon's large flowered, beauties (standards) normally occupy centre
stage in the shade house, but 'Non Stops', multifloras, and home grown
seedlings vie for position, especially outdoors.
Of the evergreen varieties grown here, some
rhizomatous such as Rex, B. 'Cleopatra', B. 'Silver Jewel', and B.
bowerae var. nigramarga are used as house plants and some shrub
types such as B..fuchsioides 'Rosea', B. scharffii, and B. acutifolia
as well as a few canes are grown outdoors or in conservatories.
I have been breeding B. tuberhybrida for fragrance,
helped very considerably by seed from Howard Siebold, and already scented
begonias are enhancing the atmosphere of some shade houses here, with
standard pendulas and tinies all adding to the show.
Britain claims to be the home of the best tuberous
begonias, but I think we can run her pretty close or even surpass her from
the point of view of a home display.
Left, Blackmore and Langdon's B. 'Sugar
Candy' decided to cascade in New Zealand. Photo by Ian McNeur.