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Home > Care  > June tips

Tips for June
by Brad Thompson


1.  PINCHING:  As I write this I am just now doing my last pinching. If you are going to enter plants in this year's shows, it's almost too late to do any more pinching and still have blooms in time. This week I have been looking my plants over. The ones that look full & symmetrical got moved to choicer spots and given a little more space. Any that definitely were not going to be nice enough to show this year, I took cuttings from and Moved the plants to a less desirable location. This allows the better plants to have more room to reach their full potential.

Keep watching your plants to make sure the new growth is growing in the right direction. Watch for buds growing inward. Reprune those branches to get them growing toward the outside by cutting one node lower. Stop pinching about six weeks before show time to make sure there are blooms for the show.

2.  POTTING: Now is the time to get that repotting done. Sometimes, if you have a plant that isn't really coming back the way it should, go ahead & repot it anyway in the same pot. It should make a marked improvement quickly. It is warmer now, & you plants should be growing like gangbusters. If they aren't, then they probably need repotting.

If you are planning on entering a plant in a show, make certain not to use white or odd colored pots. Especially do not use the black gallon nursery pots. They aren't allowed & will be disqualified.

3.  SPRAYING: I have started seeing some mildew on plants now. You know which plants are prone to mildew & as soon as you notice mildew spray all that are susceptible. As a general rule most fungicides do not kill mildew but will prevent further mildew. I try to spray mildew-prone plants at least once a week. On a few plants (like B. sutherlandii & some of the rexes) more often than that. I use Funginex but there are others you can use. Some of the powder types like Benemil work for mildew also but they do plug up your sprayer & leave a residue on the leaves. You do have to be careful about any kind of spray you use for the first time because some sprays are photo-toxic on begonias & will cause burn or discoloration marks on the flowers or leaves. Always test any spray on only a couple of plants & then wait a few days to see if there are any ill effects before trying it on more plants.

Continue to watch for bugs & diseases & try to get them under control right away. It's easier to spot treat when you first notice the problems than having to spray your entire collection. You may start to see aphids now because this is their time to start multiplying. I use Malathion but try not to spray anymore than I have to. If you have organic methods use what works for you. The main thing I want to stress is that you should be watching out for problems so you can get a jump on them. Remember, a good way to kill minor infestations of mealy bugs is to use a small artist brush or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol & applied to the critters. They did instantly. You can also use a spray bottle with the alcohol but make sure not to get any in the soil because that will harm the plant.

4.  FERTILIZER:  (Yes, I'm leaving in these directions again this month). You definitely need to start fertilizing. Plants need fertilizer if you haven't done your repotting. Since your plants are actively growing now, you should be fertilizing regularly. (No, regularly is not once a year!) At the very least use Nutricote or Osmocote on your plants so at least they'll be getting something. I use Nutricote in the spring & when I repot & then I fertilize with Miracle-Gro on top of that during the year. During the growing season I try to water once a week with a 1/4 strength liquid fertilizer. It's better to fertilize more often with smaller amounts because you won't risk burning the roots or over fertilizing. Ask me or someone you know who raises nice plants if you are unsure about fertilizing or are unsure about the directions. I have been faithfully fertilizing for about 3 months & it's really starting to show results with warmer weather.

5.  RHIZOMATOUS BEGONIAS: Your rhizomatous begonias will be finishing up blooming this month & next, so now you can take some tip cuttings. If you aren't going to be taking any cuttings at least pinch the tips so you rhizomes will branch & your plants will fill in.

If you have any that are really overgrown, you'll need to do some thinning & pruning to get them in shape. Besides fixing your plant, you'll have cuttings to root & share with your friends. Make sure & get those rhizomatous plants repotted with fresh soil. They seem to require fresh soil even more than the canes. You'll be surprised at how fast they take off in new soil. I've repotted almost all of mine already & they have grown quickly. I have been removing all the bad leaves & cutting up any good parts of those leaves & making them into leaf wedges for propagating. They won't be sale plants in time for any shows but they will be nice plant table plants for later on. They can also serve as replacement plants for any of the originals that might have accidents this summer.

6.  CUTTINGS:  Don't forget to put those cuttings down for sale plants at the shows. Make sure you have at least one growth bud at the bottom of those cuttings so they'll make good plants & branch under the soil when you pot them up. It is not too late to root cuttings for sale plants. Any cutting will root in a couple of weeks this time of year &, if you pot it up right away, you only need another 4 weeks for it to root well enough to sell. Don't pot them directly into large pots thinking they'll make large plants faster. Pot them into a 3 or 3 1/2 round pot and fertilize them regularly & they will be much nicer plants. If they grow too big, then you can repot them into 4 pots, but only if they're ready & root bound.

7.  GROOMING:  Make sure you look at your plants & keep them properly groomed so they'll be at their best. Remove all bad leaves now because they won't get any better & your plant will have a chance to make up for them before the shows. Remove spent flowers & keep them off the leaves, especially on rhizomatous. They can rot a hole in the leaf & ruin it. Don't be afraid to rinse off your leaves with water occasionally to keep them clean & shiny. Your plants will breath a lot better if you so. Remove any dead leaves, stems or whatever now so you won't mess it up trying to do it later.        

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