Hybridizing begonias, or making pollinations of Begonia flowers, is very easy and perhaps that is why there are thousands of different cultivars of begonias scattered around the world. If you are interested in learning about how to make your own new seed, you will definitely want to read some of the booklets published in the ABS Online Bookstore.
- ‘Begonia Hybridizing by the Hybridizers’, by Freda Holley
- ‘Begonia Hybridizing: A Primer’, by Freda Holley
The basics of pollinating involve male and female flowers. Beyond that, there are two main goals to hybridizing begonias:
- Species Conservation – Much of the societies’ efforts go into species conservation; one of the main strategies of this type of pollination is to make more plants of a given Begonia species. To preserve an endangered species from extinction requires a team of people working together to keep that endangered plant’s genetic stock growing vigorously and to generate seedlings to share back to the original location in the future.
- Creating Cultivars – Plant breeding as an art form. The goal of this type of hybridizing is to make a new combination of genetics and create something unique. Most often the hybridizer is hoping to improve something, like flower size, or vigor, or disease resistance, but often it is simply for the joy of creating something new.
See below for some great introductory articles by renowned Begonia hybridizers:
It has been relatively difficult to obtain the latest overseas hybrids in Australia. This is because of our tough and costly quarantine procedures. We cannot import plants with soil or peat on the roots and all of our imports are subjected to methyl bromide treatment. This also includes cutting material such as leaves and stems.
Hybridizing is more than just putting pollen to the stigma and planting the resulting seeds. Hybridizing can create new beauty and offers a challenge to even the most experienced grower. Anyone with the room to grow seedlings and time to watch them to maturity can become a hybridizer.
Do I have a goal in mind when I make a cross between two begonias? The answer is yes. Is that goal always the same? The answer is no. There are, however, two basic goals I have in mind in all crosses I do. One is to create something different and the second is to improve on something already done.
Until Freda suggested this article I guess I never consciously thought about the artistic aspects of the begonias I was creating. I suppose years of art classes made artistic goals mostly ingrained in everything I do.