The life of a Begonia cultivar can be long or short. The artist, hybridizer, may work a lifetime on hybridizing begonias or simply make 1-2 crosses and stop for one reason or another. In any case, sometimes these crosses are exceptional and sometimes they are not.
Goals of the Committee
The Cultivar Preservation Committee looks for the exceptional crosses and tries to make sure that they do not disappear.
- First, the goal is to make sure the plant has been found and its identity has been confirmed.
- Next to make sure that it gets to a germplasm collection, such as the Fort Worth Botanic Garden Begonia Collection, or the Ohio State University’s Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center
- Then it needs to be made available to growers and producers of begonias, such as American Begonia Society partner nurseries and specialty Begonia suppliers.
- So that it can be made available to our members and added to their collections.
Why do we need to preserve these plants?
There are many reasons, but here are a few of the major points.
- Many hybrids are of value to today’s and tomorrow’s hybridizers because they offer a unique trait or quality. Disease resistance, heat tolerance, and cold hardiness are common traits. Other traits might include flower size, flower timing, improved plant habit, shape, or branching.
- Some hybrids are rare combinations of genetics, and that information can be used to help in research.
- Sometimes a hybrid may have an endangered species as a parent, if the species is lost then this hybrid becomes a vital link in trying to regain a portion of that lost species. See our Save Our Species page to find out about the ABS efforts to save these species.
- Last but not least, a historic link between plant breeders of the past and plant breeders of the future provides a sense of continuity and is a great teaching tool.
Take a look at a few of the cultivars from past and current hybridizers and view their beautiful creations. Many of these are available for us to enjoy today.
ABS and Hybrids: The People and the Plants
The history of the American Begonia Society is studded with creative hybridizers, who took the...
The Hybrids of Virginia Kettler (1928?-2000)
Virginia Kettler was perhaps a bit more of a recreational hybridizer than others. She was simply...
The Hybrids of Ross Bolwell
Ross Bolwell hails from Annandale, NSW in Australia where he began hybridizing in the 1980’s and...
The Hybrids of Leslie Woodriff (1910-1997)
Leslie was raised by a farming family in the depression era of American history. He was unable to...
The Hybrids of Brad Thompson (1952-2018)
Brad Thompson was one of the American Begonia Society’s most productive members. He was an...
The Hybrids of Belva Nelson Kusler (1910-1995)
Belva Nelson Kusler, hailed from Siren, Wisconsin and first mentioned in The Begonian in 1950 for...