Let begonias bring a fiesta to summer


The promise of spectacular blooms from vibrant-toned begonias should be enough to spur any gardener into action and now’s the time to start, especially if raising varieties from tubers.

Many others are easily raised from plug plants usually mailed out from mid- spring from on-line retailers, but you need to order favourite varieties now before they sell out. Begonias are generally trouble free and once established will thrive in sun or semi-shade with a succession of blossoms from June to September and sometimes beyond.

Start tuberous varieties in a seed tray using equal parts general purpose compost and sharp sand for drainage, planting each with the depression containing the growth point uppermost, covering with 6mm (1/4in) of compost and 50mm (2in) apart. Maintain a temperature of 10-18C (55-65F), keeping the compost moist, but not wet. Once tubers produce a ball of fine roots transfer to pots 50mm (2in) larger than the root ball and grow on maintaining a temperature of 13-18C (55-65F). Pot up plug plants when they arrive into 21/3-3in pots, transferring to large containers as they develop. Harden off all plants before planting them outside after danger of frost is over. Keep plants moist and feed with a high potash liquid feed and pick off spent blossoms to encourage more flowers to form.

How to grow your begonias