This interesting begonia entered in the Shrub Division, 2001 Miami Begonia Show and photographed by Joyce Pridgen is an interesting new shrub-like species that is great for the holiday season. Thelma O’Reilly designates it B. U402.

It evidently arrived here via a gift from a Japanese visitor to John Howell of San Antonio who, as is his wont, propagated and distributed it widely, identified simply as a ‘Venezuela Species’. I bought one in Ft. Worth in the spring of 2000 and thinking it fragile grew it carefully in a contained environment, but only when I gave up on this and put it outside to fend for itself in Nacogdoches, TX did it come into its own, growing rapidly and as the weather cooled beginning to bloom profusely.

But to be on the safe side, I took a cutting to root and also put down the leaves I stripped off this cutting. To my surprise, even the half-leaf took and produced 7 or 8 little plants! In fact, from that one small cutting and its leaves, I wound up with about 25 plants! Hybridizers, take note, if there is a gene for easy reproduction, this one has it!

It blooms all winter and makes a lovely drooping basket for the holidays. I am now growing it here in Stillwater, OK and find that it can also take the heat (to 108 degrees!) well if given deep shade and ample humidity. I was able to self it last year too and the identical seedlings give evidence that it is indeed a species. They grew fast and well. B. U402 is probably related to B. ulmifolia as one cannot tell the seedlings of these two apart until they are fairly far along. Then, as its leaves tike on their bronze color, B. U402 becomes quite different in appearance. The flowers and flowering habits also differ.

Try it; you’ll like it. -FH