A Bounty of Beautiful Begonias

Post by Pam Glogowski

This blog post will follow the theme of over-wintering favorite plants that I started in my January 17, 2017 post about plectranthus.   Like most gardeners, I’ve collected some wonderful tender specimen plants over the years, and because I can’t bear to part with them I bring them in the house for the winter.  My family moved back to Janesville from the southern U.S. in July 2015, and we were lucky to find a house with a beautiful greenhouse window in the exposed basement.  This window provides great light for the smallest plants I bring in, including two of the four begonias highlighted in this post.

Begonia ‘Jurassic Watermelon’

The large genus Begonia consists of more than 1500 different species and hundreds of hybrids.  According to Brad Thompson of the American Begonia Society there are eight types of begonias:  canes, shrubs, rhizomatous, semperflorens, tuberous, rexes, trailing/scandent, and thick-stemmed.  The small plant pictured above is a rex begonia that grows well in containers and prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil.  The rexes are grown for their spectacular foliage and have insignificant blooms.   

Begonia ‘Tiger Kitten’

‘Tiger Kitten’ is a rhizomatous begonia, a group of plants that doesn’t get very tall but can get quite wide because they grow from rhizomes that creep along the ground.  I keep this plant in a container year-round and you can see that it is starting to make new leaves as our days grow longer.  Spring is surely on its way!

Begonia ‘Sophia’

This ‘Sophia’ is about 30″ tall.  It is a cane begonia that gets long and leggy in appearance.  Most all begonias propagate easily from stem cuttings, so I often cut the longest canes of this plant, place them in a vase of water, and wait for them to grow roots before planting them.  The leafless cane that is left behind on the mother plant will grow new leaves from any remaining nodes (the swollen areas at regular intervals on the cane).  These are the plants commonly called “Angel Wing” begonias.  Some cane begonias can grow up to almost 12 feet high in frost-free areas where they remain outside, but can be kept smaller and used as houseplants in cooler climates like ours here in Wisconsin.

Beautiful Begonias

This photo shows the three plants highlighted in this post with my fourth begonia ‘Crystal White’.  I hope that you have some begonias – they bring color and cheer to our winter days, and thrive beautifully in the house.  They can be moved outside in the summer after all danger of frost has passed.  Like most begonias they prefer shady areas like covered or screened porches.

RBG Education Committee:  (Front) Bev Feltz, Karen Bernard, Mary Berve, Mary Downing.

(Back) Marsha Mood, Dave Bendlin, Barb Converse.

(Missing) Pam Glogowski, Marlene Roessler, Pat Starr, Mary Kay Thompson, Becky Kronberg

Hats off to our hard-working RBG Education Committee

This group does a great job planning and implementing the wide range of educational programs offered at Rotary Botanical Gardens.  We offer programs for adults, families, and children of all ages.  Click on the education tab above for more information.  We hope to see you at the Gardens soon!

Mark Your Calendar!

Plan to attend the upcoming Rotary Botanical Gardens Evening Garden Seminar on February 23, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Ethan Lee, Janesville Parks & Forestry Coordinator, will present the lecture, “Selecting a Tree for Your Home Landscape.” Cost is $5 for non-members, $3 for RBG Friends members. No registration is required for the seminar at Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, WI 53545.  Call 608.314.8412 with any questions about this or any other education programs at RBG.

Pam Glogowski has been the Education Coordinator at Rotary Botanical Gardens (RBG) since August 2016. Along with talented and hard-working RBG education volunteers, she develops and implements educational programming for adults, children, and families in Janesville and beyond. Pam is a “plant nut” and long-time gardening enthusiast, Master Gardener volunteer, and educator. She has lived in Michigan, South Carolina and Wisconsin and enjoys sharing her gardening experiences with others.

We encourage feedback and questions from you, our readers. To contact the regular contributors to this blog, (Pam, Janice or Patrea)  click here to send us an email.