Home > Begonian > Volume 68 (September/October 2001, pages 172 -
by Joyce Pridgen
Sometimes I'm amazed that B. lanceolata is not
only alive, but thriving in my care. After all, it is one of those
"difficult to grow" begonias and has to make it through our South Florida
It was given to me by a former member of the Miami
Begonia Society who still grows a few begonias, but is primarily an orchid
grower. I couldn't believe she would entrust me, a new begonia grower,
with a start of this collector's begonia. She assured me it was easy to
grow under the right conditions. Her instructions were simple: grow it in
a tree fern basket with a little potting mix, under the bench in the
shadehouse in the coolest, shadiest spot. That's where it has been growing
for about seven years now.
It grows slowly for me, and only about two years ago
was it large enough to divide. I like to have a spare of difficult to grow
and/or hard to replace begonias. I put the division in a clay pot right
beside the original plant. It struggled along, getting smaller, for a year
or more until I finally repotted it into a tree fern basket. Now both of
them are growing happily.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that my B.
lanceolata had been awarded Best in Show at the ABS Begonias in the
Rockies in Denver in July. First, I wasn't planning to bring it, but my
husband Doug insisted on packing it up along with four other begonias in
4-inch pots, to enter in the Traveling Begonia Division. Then Charles
Jaros strongly suggested I enter it in Rhizomatous, Distinctive Foliage or
Habit of Growth Division, so it would be eligible for Best in Show. (The
Traveling Begonia Division is not eligible.) Surprisingly, it won!
Now my well-traveled B. lanceolata, after
winning Best in Show in Denver and vacationing in Vail for a few days,
seems content back at home under the shadehouse bench in Miami.
B. lanceolata is a species from Brazil, first
described by Vellozo in 1831. It is classified botanically in the section
Trachelocarpus along with, among others, B. vellozianna and herbacea all
of which have 56 chromosomes which might mean that they could be crossed
with some canes and shrubs for hybrids.