Gardening: Spectacular rex begonias flourish with right care

Not all rex begonias handle the heat well, and they tend to do best with bright indirect light while they’re outdoors and away from direct Texas sunshine.

Not all rex begonias manage the heat well, and they have a tendency to do most effective with dazzling indirect gentle even though they are outdoor and absent from immediate Texas sunshine.

Special to the Star-Telegram

Its name is “Rex” begonia, and as significantly as I’m anxious it’s the king of the Plant Kingdom when it comes to breathtaking foliage. I have been fascinated by this plant given that I was possibly 8 or 9 several years old.

It was really hard to come across rex begonias back again then. You saw them in magazines and gardening references. They were being available in seed catalogs, but the seeds were being like dust and it was seemingly difficult to get them to germinate and mature into serious plants.

It’s been a genuine joy to look at this spectacular plant come to be a person of America’s sweethearts — greatly accessible on the internet, and usually bought in retail nurseries and flower shops. It’s like a younger horticulturist’s desires have arrive correct.

What you will need to know …

Begonia rex-cultorum. The Missouri Botanic Backyard says this title is used to a group of cultivated begonias stemming from the wild species Begonia rex someplace along the line. The species is native to northeastern India, southern China and Vietnam.

Hybridizers have long gone crazy with this fantastic plant. You can Google until your fingers are worn to nubs. You are going to obtain hundreds/probably thousands of cultivated varieties in the sector.

Rex begonias’ leaves screen an unlimited array of jewel-like tones including silver, pink, purple, purple, rose and environmentally friendly, normally streaked, swirled and noticed. Leaf dimensions variety from 3 or 4 inches to as substantial as a dinner plate. They are borne in clumps or on extremely shortened stems.

When I very first acquired my 30×60-foot greenhouse I stuffed 50 % of it with tiny rex begonia transplants from an out-of-point out professional. I purchased 300 kinds and I planted them into 1-gallon pots. Most of them loved that greenhouse, and I shortly had to repot them into 3-gallon containers.

By the conclusion of the very first summertime there were being some that were being fading due to the Texas heat, so my herd was thinning. Finally I reduce back again to my favorite 30 or 40, and I grew all those for quite a few many years.

From those people yrs of knowledge, I can inform you not all rex begonias manage Texas similarly nicely. Some are simpler than others. And I don’t imagine there is a ton of reason to ship you out wanting for specific selection names. There are just as well many on the industry, and growers are leaning towards their very own proprietary sorts.

In typical terms, however, I have often identified that most rex begonias do ideal with dazzling indirect light-weight although they’re outdoor — no immediate Texas sunshine. I develop mine where I would grow ferns or hostas, except I maintain them in pots so I can get them into the greenhouse or property in excess of the winter.

I decide on a unfastened, really natural potting soil. In truth, I mix my own consisting of 50% sphagnum peat moss, 20% finely ground pine bark mulch and 15% just about every expanded shale and horticultural perlite. Because that blend has no nutrition at all, I use a diluted remedy of a substantial-nitrogen, complete-and-balanced, water-soluble plant food stuff every time that I drinking water my vegetation.

Most begonias have showy flower clusters, but most rex begonias do not. Because of that I retain the flower stalks pinched off my plants so that all of their energy can be expended on producing extra leaves. As outdated leaves come to be frayed I pinch or trim them off.

Rex begonias favor a soil blend that stays moist at all occasions — not wet, but absolutely never dry to the position of wilting. They use a terrific offer of humidity throughout the growing period.

If you’re escalating rex begonias indoors, situation them on the brightest windowsill obtainable. Defend them from any freezing temperature, and really do not let them contact seriously chilly glass, both. Rotate the vegetation just about every couple of times to hold them symmetrical. If you transition them outdoors through the increasing year, do so very carefully. Never expose them suddenly to bright mild. It could burn off their tender leaves.

If you are fascinated in propagating rex begonias, the easiest way is with leaf cuttings. Use a pretty sharp knife or one-edge razor blade to clear away a healthier, comprehensive-sized leaf. Trim its petiole (“stem” of the leaf) to be only 1/2-inch extensive. I use sharp shears to trim the leaf around its edges to be about 50 % as large as it was initially.

Fill every single pot with a combine of equal quantities of sphagnum peat moss and perlite and soak it carefully. Use a pencil to produce insertion holes, one hole per leaf. Stick the leaf into the potting soil so that the foundation of the blade is scarcely coated by the soil. Business the soil all over the foundation of the slicing. Insert one more leaf or two if you want, then drinking water the potting soil comprehensively.

Position the pot in a vibrant spot that is out of direct daylight. Cover it with dry cleaner’s plastic to hold humidity all around the leaves as they variety roots. When they provide slight resistance when you pull gently, it is time to pot them into 4-inch pots. New crops will acquire from the base of every cutting.

Of study course, you could also grow your rexes from seed, but get it from the 14-year-aged Neil from a lot of years in the past: you don’t want to go there. The seeds are too tiny and the perform is far too monotonous. Plus, they do not “come true” from seed. Leaf cuttings are a ton much easier.

You can listen to Neil Sperry on KLIF 570AM on Saturday afternoons 1-3 pm and on WBAP 820AM Sunday mornings 8-10 am. Be part of him at and follow him on Fb.

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