Color from artificial lights...

Begonia2005(7)October 31, 2012

This is a NOID I bought this year in March. Optimara, I believe. I loved the dark red color and the the multitude of blooms it had in the store. I bought another three with this one, and this was the only one to survive my first attempt at AV-s. I am not sure which of the two plants in the photo it is - both had the same color, except one had slightly more frilled edges than the other. The other one died a while ago. The photo with the two plants is from back in March.

http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll21/syracusa/005.jpg

My frustration with this sturdy little plant is that I never managed to bring it back with the abundance of blooms I bought it with. It bloomed back again over the summer, but it only produced 3-4 blooms.

It is a very slow grower...and now a third set of blooms is coming...but again, very few and very slow to grow and open. Here is a pic with the plant now.

http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll21/syracusa/20121031_180547.jpg

When the first one of this small set of buds opened up the other day, I was amazed to see how the bloom color changed compared to how it was when I bought it and also how it bloomed over the summer.

This time the color is almost neon-like! Just gorgeous!!

What I did different this time is that I placed it under a grow light from Walmart (the famous 11$ cheapy).

I absolutely love the way it came out, the color is much more beautiful than in the past.

But now the question is: how do I get this little plant with such a gorgeous color to produce LOTS of blooms?

I know it is genetically capable of doing it because it had lots of blooms when I first bought it. After that though, it never did bloom profusely again...and over the past couple of months I have done everything by the book. The soil mix is good (but it may still not be ideal; it will be on the next re-potting)...it also had humidity trays, fertilizer...everything. But still a lazy bloomer and very slow grower.

I managed to make the color much prettier, but I still can't get the number of blooms I want. Any ideas how I could further coax this little plant to produce lots of these vibrantly colored blooms?

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aegis1000

Really successful blooming ... comes from really healthy plants ... with lots of leaves.

Leaves provide the mechanism for the plant to feed itself.

When you learn to grow really healthy plants, ... you will enjoy really successful blooming.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:03AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

I actually like your current plant better than what you got from the store. It was sure beaten. Out of your old pic - one on the left - is Opt. Colorado - frilly - the right one - Pennsylvania?? Delaware??

It is bloooming and it has buds coming - and they will last long. The color...visually always looks better under grow or daylight type tubes, and not as special under cool lights which are the cheapest. You get the mature plant - it will take forever for it to adjust to your conditions. Now it did it - and you are going to get more bloom.

Nice healthy plant.

Irina

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 1:03PM
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Begonia2005(7)

...

Yeah...but however beaten, at that time it had a ton of blooms. Right now, leaves look good, bloom color is much nicer...but the number of buds is dismal. :-(

I can see two more tiny buds/stalks coming from the base of the plant...out but they are way behind, very small...and considering how long it took this one to grow and open, this will be long dead by the time the tiny ones are grown and open.

For whatever reason, this plant has been an extremely lazy bloomer in my conditions; and I've done everything right over the past 2-3 months. Oh, well.

I will not give up on it though because I am crazy about the way color came out after 2 months of grow lights.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:18PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

If you really want to achieve the maximum performance for this variety - you need to start it from a leaf. The plants do the best if they are started in this house. Plus the young plants perform better than old ones.

Shouldn't be a problem to start it - it is one of the cast AVs.

Good Luck

Irina

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:09PM
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Begonia2005(7)

Thank you, Irina. How old is the typical plant arriving in the average buyer's house when they get one of those pots in full bloom from a big box store ?
For ex, I have only had this plant since march...but how old it actually is, I would never know. Given I heard some people have had violets for decades (!!!!!!!), I am not sure after how long I should expect reduced performance due to age.

I do,understand the part about growing conditions. I currently have 8 leaves put down under a dome and all seem to have rooted though I don't see any mouse ears yet. I want to see how plants would do if they were born in my house. I also have 4 starter plants from LLG ...so I suppose these will be more likely to adapt to my conditions than a mature plant from a big box store would, is that correct ?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 9:48PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

I am thinking that the plants from the store are about 5 months old. They are basically forced - light, temperature, humidity, fertilizer and additional CO2 are pumped into them on the assembly line in an industrial greenhouse. They are bred to give this full head bloom at the same time - and 99.9% of them will be in a trash month after sale.

I think a lot of Optimaras bloom in spurts - full head - rest, full head - rest - my beloved Rhapsodie Cora is an example.

After this heavy bloom they need rest, plus the need rest to adjust to new home and to get over the stress of relocating from warm and humid greenhouse to your place by the way of being boxed and shipped and tossed and lingering in unfriendly Lowes ...So they are in recovery for several more months.

The second thing - AVS are herbacious plants, not oak trees - and they become old and less productive with time. Probably 1.5 years is as much you want to keep the same plant - and then you need either to restart it - which is better - or rejuvenate by taking the tip of the crown off and rerooting - this is the only way for chimeras.

That's why it makes sense - if you go to the show and sale of AVs - to get a leaf or a young starter. The huge beautiful plant, the winner of the show is at its peak - and will never repeat the performance for you 100%. While the little starter of this plant can be the winner of the next Show.

If the only way to get this variety would be to buy this plant - it will be immediately disassembled, flowers removed, leaves taken to put down and to share - and crown restarted.

I.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Empress012

I was searching for lights in the forum and I came up your topic.
You mention $11 lights from Walmart? Could you share a specific name or brand or type? I am completely new to grow lights and am just piecing it together but cheap alternatives would work wonders for me! Ha ha~
Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 12:22AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Em -

what is the location and the length of the lights you plan to install?

I.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Empress012

@Irina: I was planning to build a PVC shape to the length of the smallest, cheapest available CFL. However, now that I have heard of LEDS and am trying to learn from them, I am thinking maybe I will do an LED light.
And this would be next to a window where I don't get much light. Couldn't give you an exact 'how much light' but its mostly shade.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 12:07AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Empress - sorry - do not have any experience with LEDS or CFLs.I always go for the shoplights. I would get a 48 T8 fixture and hang it over the windowsill on the plant chains. If your area is small - get 24" fixture. Or single tube T5 strip I think HD sells them as over the counter light.

If you want to check your light - to take the guess out - there is a light meter - and if your window provides your plant with 12 hours of 600-800 footcandles - you are OK, if not - you need to give your plants several hours of extra.

irina

Here is a link that might be useful: light meter

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:59PM
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sorceress99(Tennessee 6)

From the look of your plant, it's not growing. I suggest that you dis-bud the plant for 8-10 weeks and let it grow. Clip the bloom stalks off, leaving a 1/8-1/4 stub in the axils (where the leaf joins the plant stem). Bloom stalks grow from the axils of NEW growth only.Once a stalk blooms the leaf axil won't produce any new buds.

When a plant is in bloom, all its energy goes to making new blooms and the plant doesn't grow. By dis-budding you direct its energy into growing new foliage which is were new blooms will grow from. After the plants has grown new foliage, it will start producing new buds again. If you clip every 2-3 buds off, the plant will keep growing and you will always have a nice head of blooms from the new growth.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:23PM
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