> Volume 67 (May/June 2000, pages 91 - 92)
A Beginner Considers Hybridizing Begonias as an Art Form
by Iris Bird
As a confessed beginner, attempting to
hybridize, what could I tell another beginner,
about the art of hybridizing? I would spend a
couple of years familiarizing myself with the
different 'kinds' of begonias I have the
option and requirements for growing. I would
analyze somewhat my growing areas; where would
be the best location for them, are they canes,
rhizomatous, shrub, thick stem, or, are they
the species from the wild places of the world?
Do they grow in a contained atmosphere? What
is that? Who grows there? I asked myself these
same questions five years ago. Do I want that
one and for what? Yes, I desired the lovely
unusual leaf of the rhizomatous begonia, and I
try to collect one of each that I might have
the good fortune of growing. I still 'need'
many more. When I didn't have access to the
plant, I collected leaves from whoever would
share with me. Now, what did I do with the
leaves? Made more plants. Hopefully growing
them for show and for their blooms and pollen.
At this writing all the rhizomatous are
blooming, and seeing so many blooms with all
that pollen, am I confused? Which one will be
a good match for that one? Do I have in my
collection compatible plants suitable for
hybridizing? I don't really know. But, I have
So, instructing a beginner in the art of
hybridizing, one would have to begin by
familiarizing oneself with the family Begoniaceae.
Study them for their finer points and what
it is you want to achieve. How to grow from
seed. How to propagate from cuttings of all
kinds. How to grow the begonia to a mature
plant, with success. How To produce a show
plant. How, and most important to me, to keep
my plants in good condition and growing well.
For years, you say? I guess the answer is yes.
If a plant you are caring for conforms and
adheres to an established standard and is
still growing well after a couple of years, I
think that plant has good genes and was
hybridized well. This is not an easy task. I
want to do the same! I would like to create
one of those beautiful rhizomatous, such as B.
rajah, or , B. 'Wanda', or a
successfully hybridized cane, such as B.
'Irene Nuss'. There is nothing wrong with
dreaming and giving it my best effort. These
plants have grown for years and are always the
same in appearance and their requirements
never change. You can depend on their
stability and constancy and benefit by these
I have read about 'making' your own.
Placing that pollen from that male flower onto
this female flower. It is just that easy!
Well, I don't think so. I stand in the yard
and look over the many begonias we have, and I
think, if I like that one and that one, why
not do just that? Well, because they may not
be compatible. They may be weak of stem, may
both have few flowers, possible one needs more
shade. By chance will they be the same, and
need identical cultural requirements? NO.
Chromosome numbers enter the picture here. Is
the characteristic number in each plant
correct? Please remember I am a beginner too.