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Home > Begonian > Volume 68 (November/December 2001, page 207)

A Holiday Welcome
by Johanna Zinn

While shopping at a local nursery I noticed a ring of cactus suspended from the greenhouse wall. Although the circle of cactus was interesting, I thought that begonias would fill the space more attractively. I had a few small trailing-scandent plants that were suitable for this type of planting.

Empty metal rings are available at a few nurseries in our area. I purchased one consisting of four circles of metal: two larger circles formed the front and back outer rings and two smaller circles formed the front and back of the inner circles. The rings were held together by metal bars spaced at frequent intervals. I packed the wreath with pre-moistened long-fibered sphagnum moss and secured the moss with waxed beige twine.

Choosing the plants was the most enjoyable part of the project. I tried to choose mostly trailing-scandent plants, but selected a few that would fill in the spaces with foliage. Begonias planted included B. 'Caribbean Prince', longipetiolata (syn. crassipes), U010, U315, and glabra. Imade holes in the sphagnum and inserted each plant with its root ball and soil into the openings. Then the begonia ring was placed horizontally into a very large plant saucer for three weeks to allow the plants to grow into the moss and become secure before I hung it in our shade house.

Just before the photo was taken, a squirrel knocked the begonia ring to the ground. While picking off the damaged foliage, I decided to take the photo before any further damage was done. Blooms from a Non-Stop tuberous begonia filled in some of the empty spaces. Over the summer, the wreath filled in well, but keeping it growing was not without challenges.

Other than declaring our shade house a "No Squirrel Zone", were there other things that I could have done to ensure the health of the plantings? I can think of two that would have made watering less of a chore. The wreath dried out very quickly in the summer heat. 

A few weeks after planting, I added water absorbing polymers. Although I inserted the granules at the suggested depth of two inches, the morning after I watered the wreath, it looked as if it were regurgitating slug slime. Adding the polymers at planting time would have prevented the problems. The plants also should have been inserted with a larger soil mass.

Several weeks ago, I purchased another wreath frame. This wreath has a coconut fiber shell inside the metal rings. The frame opens on hinges for easy filling with soil, and the coconut fiber shell is thin enough to slice easily for plant insertion. This frame should solve most of the problems mentioned. I wonder what is rooted in my prop box.


begonia wreath on the door

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