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Home > Begonian > Volume 69 (September/October 2002)

B. formosana var. formosana
by Charles Jaros

While attending the 2001 ABS Annual Meeting in Orange County, California a side trip was arranged by Jeanne Jones for those attending the meeting to Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Early Sunday morning we boarded a bus for a trip to Huntington Botanical Gardens and were met by two docents of the gardens that are also members of the Palos Verdes Branch. What a treat it was to have two knowledgeable guides lead us through this 150‑acre paradise. But an even more delicious morsel was in store: a tour of the working greenhouses. To make this great day even better we were told by our docents that our group was able to purchase plants from the greenhouse. Does a Begoniac need other prodding? I think not! As our small group descended upon the Begonia section, species were snapped up like candy. Even though the garden's begonia collection was small, there were some very impressive varieties. We all came away very satisfied.

Among the species that I purchased was this delicate rhizomatous named B. formosana. Obviously with this name, I determined it was discovered in Formosa now known as Taiwan. Begonias 1984 Update by Mildred Thompson classify this gem as rhizomatous, distinctive foliage with unusual surface and/or unusual coloring, medium leafed. Flowers are pale pink with the blooming season being from May to October.

According to the draft copy of Begoniaceae Edition 2 by Jack Golding and Dieter C. Wasshousen the name was published in 1961 and is in the section Platycentrum and should be correctly named B. formosana var. formosana.

B. formosana var. formosana arrived to its new home in Sanford safely, even though it had an extended stay at the home of Tim & Thelma O'Reilly due to the terrible incidents of September 11th. Within a week it was planted into a 6" plastic squatty bulb pot using my soilless mix Fafard 2S; Nutricote 13‑13‑13 timed release fertilizer was also added to the soil during repotting. B. formosana var. formosana was a well established plant and promptly took off in its new container. It grows in my shadehouse which is 20' x 30' and has a solid clear fiberglass roof with 70% shadecloth on the sides and under the fiberglass. The shadehouse is in full sun most of the day. B. formosana var. formosana sits on the ground of the shadehouse away from the brightest area. My shadehouse is not heated in the winter and even with the shadehouse being wrapped in plastic and heat lamps on, the temperature this winter dropped to 29 degrees inside. B., formosana var. formosana suffered no ill effects and as spring approached started to reward me with fabulous new growth.

B. formosana

B. formosana exhibited by Charles Jaros at the 2002 ABS Convention in Houston.

B. formosana >var. formosana has obliquely laciniate leaves to 30 cm. long, 13 cm. wide of a rich medium green. It has bloomed for me during the May‑October time frame, as it was blooming when purchased in September and has started blooming again at the beginning of June.

While deciding which plants I was going to transport to the 2002 ABS Convention in Houston, l noticed how well B. formosana var. formosana was growing. I decided it would be chosen for the trip, mostly because it was unusual and a species. I felt other ABS members would enjoy seeing it. It was them groomed for show. B.formosana var formosana rewarded me with a blue ribbon and a cultural certificate.

I wholeheartedly recommend this rhizomatous species to all growers as it is not demanding.

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