Back on the Begonia Bandwagon!

tom8olvr(Z5 MA)January 23, 2008

Finally started my Dragonwing begonias this week! Keep your fingers crossed!

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Glad to see you've survived the holidays, and can now do some seeding to get throught the fairly lackluster late winter months (Jan and Feb, sometimes March by my locale's standards). You did well with them last year, but I'll cross my fingers for you too!

My babywing pinks are doing well. The winter's been long tho', and their leaves are turning a fainter green, I'm sure come the longer sunnier days that start up in February, and bigger pots and fertilizer, they'll perk up. I had to keep cutting back the stems, they were taking up too much room on my plant table, and that would only encourage new ones to branch from beneath. And pinch off the new blooms constantly to keep up with the mess.

So this method works for me, it's just being able to make room for them indoors for the 9 months that's required in my zone versus parting with the hard cold cash at the greenhouse. Wish they could be bought in 6 packs like someone mentioned they were able to (whereever it is they live). But not yet.

And for me, the money part isn't so bad, I seem to get 'attached' to some of the plants that I enjoy over the summer, and have trouble parting with them come winter. Plus, I get this feeling of pride or accomplishment, when they do well, knowing how much I played a part in that. Keep us posted!

Our temps are to drop to -21*C by late this afternoon (shiver). Yikes!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:47AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I have Germination!

Whoa! That's cold! When do you put things in the ground - when is it safe???

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 12:33PM
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Usually it's (kind of) safe to plant the May long weekend, we have had dips below 0 into the first week of June, and snow! It'll be a warm snow, and tougher annuals like geraniums and petunias will survive (they'll look rough for a while or until it warms up) and the really adventureous gardeners will plant out their tomato plants at the long weekend too...knowing they may have to cover them some nights. I saw no gain in planting out tender plants like tomatoes and coleus and begonia until late in the first week of June. Sad part is that some spring's it'll be so warm (nights too) earlier in May, and fool people to plant out, then up sneaks a late frost! My first year gardening (1990's) our last freezing night occurred in late April, that was wonderful. So really, all we can count on is 3 full months of warm temps, some years we have an early spring and late fall (mid Sept), others late spring and early fall (yech), that's the fun of gardening I guess, seeing if we can beat Mother Nature.

Glad to hear your dragons have sprouted! How long until you can harden off and plant out? Have you got grow lights set up, or will it be impossible to stand near a window in a month?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 9:49PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I ask you about your planting time because my mother lives in Z3 (1/2 the year) in Maine. She has such a difficult time, she takes my extra plants (flowers and veggies) and I think they get a tomato or two and that's it! Poor gal...

I'm in Z5/Z6. I just moved to a lake setting which I'm finding is more like Z6 than Z5... Little micro climate going on... Anyway, I plant peas and what not April 1. I plant tough transplants/annuals (may be beans and lettuce) around May 15th. I wait til June 1st or after for the tender annuals - just to be safe... but with this micro climate, I may be able to set out earlier (I've only been here a year). I haven't figured it all out yet.

I'm THRILLED my begonias seem to be doing real well. Germinating... I haven't even lifted the domes off - to keep up with the humidity. Right now, they're so small they could be confused with algea - tiny tiny leaves (or may be it's my aging eyesight!)

Yes, I have lights (drives my signif other nuts) with 17-18 hours of light. I won't take the begonias OFF the artificial lights until they have some size to them - but mostly with the others, I germinate them under lights (and a warm mat) and then move them to a bright window... I will keep them under lights for as long as there's space... If I'm ready to germinate something else, it gets moved... but the begonias spend several months under the lights... :) The directions says light them - and I do... I hate to lose them or the $50 I spent on them!!!

so what kinda 'stuff' do you plant in z3 - do you get tomatoes and other veggies?? Are you a pot gardener? Raised beds? How does that all work?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 10:28AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

HA! Finally got some pictures to share - this is my set up:

Consists of a cafeteria tray/racks (I obsconded from the HS closing in my town), 2 heating mats, three 2' lights on zip cords...

This is picture of my germinating begonias in their tray - the insert has 20 troths approximately 250 seeds germinating (I HOPE):

This is a close up of the begonias - how TINY they are:

Whoo Hoo! Back on the Begonia Bandwagon!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Looks good Tom.

I have 4 rooms in the basement with lighted shelves (some are wooden that I built) and some are chrome). I run between 60 and 70 shoplights 12 hours a day. It's a job watering and cleaning everything but what else have I got to do.

Here are some of my shelves.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 5:12PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

hcmcdole, Wholly Moley!!!!! That is fantastic! What do you do with all those plants??? And what is your electric bill??? I'm so jealous! I will eventually have 3 of my stainless steel racks and a 6X3 table filled with plants up in my small living room (and two 6' tables with two 4' lights) - but it's nothing compared to your set up! Wholly cow!!!! I'm very jealous! That's fab. THank you so much for sharing! Something to aspire to!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 8:43AM
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hcmc, that is fantastic. You're my new begonia hero. But when I show that to my husband and ask him to help make a similar (and smaller) set up for me, you won't be his hero. Anita

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 11:45AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Begonia Hero indeed!

I was just looking at my little loves today - they've grown since that last pic... I'll have to post an update!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:40AM
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Please post updates, I love everyones setups [big or small]! I havent started my six begonia tubers yet,waiting one more month. they have a tad white growth, but they will be ok, as they are stored fairly cool and dark. here is a tiny rosebud? begonia, that doesnt go dormant. Does anyone have any idea of what this one is? thanks in advance and happy growing!!

Here are my two light centres, with a hodge podge of seedlings etc.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 4:23PM
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It looks like a semperflorens, what people call a wax begonia. Anita

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 10:05PM
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Hi all,

Here is a picture I just took of one of my light set ups. You can see the geraniums I started from seed last December and the Dragonwing Cuttings.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 6:25AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Update on Dragon Wing begonia seedlings:

Kinda cute in their own little way...

Have their first true leaf. Some are doing great, some are looking very bad. We'll see!


    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 11:02AM
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Tom8,They're looking good. I sowed the pink Dragon Wings and a new begonia called Shanzi from Parks. They just started geminating so I'm really excited.Then I joined the ABS and they sent seeds of a B. barkeri, but they aren't pelleted so I keep looking through a magnifying glass for a sign of life. Betty, your blossoms look so pretty I want to sit by your grow lights with my coffee.I didn't think a Hibiscus would bloom that well in winter. Anita

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 3:13PM
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Thanks Anita,

I would like to see pictures of your Begonias as they are growing. I am new to starting them from seeds and my first try was a big flop. Tom is helping me.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 5:52AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)


You're helping me!!! I consider myself
a novice with begonias... I have had wonderful luck for 10 or
so years, and I've had great luck with the dragon wings the
last 2 years...

So here's an update: a week later...

Looking at them everyday I don't see the growth - but they are

I will continue to try and post... :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:00AM
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My goodness!! Where are you going to put them all until you can plant them out? Doesn't it seem that they don't grow at all then suddenly act like they've had sterols? Betty, as soon as I learn to use our camera I'll post pictures. Anita

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 4:02PM
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You started your Dragonwing Begonias around the end of January. Yours are looking great. Mine are just sitting there. They may not take off. Oh well I will try again till I get it right. Maybe the Park's seed starter will make a difference for me and maybe I will have flowers by August. In the meantime I do have quite a few cuttings that I have started and the 4 plants I am overwintering.

Continue to post pictures as we are enjoying watching them grow.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 5:11AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Anita - do you have an account with Photobucket? I think Photobucket is the easiest way to share photos on Gardening Web. I'm happy to help you and would like to see your pictures.

Betty - Mine get to a certain point and just 'sit there' for a while too. Right now a few plants looks like a lot because they're so close together (I think). I have had good luck with those 20 troth tray inserts - some of the seedlings in the middle have gotten sick and died, but because it is separated it didn't spread to the other seedlings on the ends. I hope to have may be 150 plants out of the 250 seeds due to my problem with the seedlings in the middle... BUT getting 150 plants for $56 is still worth growing from seed (rather than buying PLANTS).

I also think it'll still be worth it for you to start your begonias now - they really just sit for a really long time - when I put mine outside last year they were pitiful. Let's see if I can find the picture - they were really NOTHING... so I think you might have a chance...

I've often wondered with plants that grow SO slow in the house and so quickly when set out what is the benefit of starting them early?? You know?

I'm no expert nor do I play one on TV, so may be an expert could chime in...?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 9:07AM
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I consider myself a novice too, but I can't find what I want to grow at a price I want to pay. So starting form ordered seed is a way of life for me. I'm near St. Louis, Mo. and by the time the soil warms enough to germinate begonias there isn't much time to enjoy them outdoors here. Anita

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 1:21PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

That's pretty much why I got started too (at least with flowers)... I found I could get many varieties of tomatoes and peppers via seed - where nurseries didn't carry green, yellow, purple, pink tomatoes... so I started there (with my dad). The jump to growing flowers was an easy one - and your right, the cost is a major factor. If I had to buy plants, I couldn't afford to have a large flower garden... But again, I wonder if those slow growers in the house really need to be started so early... You know??

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 10:53AM
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Hi Tom,

Your Dragowing Begonias inspire us all to keep trying. My seeds arrived from Hazzard Seeds yesterday and I am going to try again, following Stokes instructions. Been busy most of the afternoon hooking up my new computer with a 20 inch Monitor screen and I am loving it.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 4:25PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Betty, how's it going???

I meant to tell you your picture on the other thread of your begonias (fiberous - I assume) look just lovely! What is the small white blooming plant in the front???

Very beautiful.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 9:29AM
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I love seeing the setups folks have!

Tom, I see you're a fellow Massachusetts grower - there is a big Show & Sale at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA Sept 20th & 21st (2008). You've moved your pictures, though!

I agree - something about putting the begonias outside just jump-starts their growth!

Mine have limped along during the summer, but I'm hoping they got enough "good vibes" to make it through winter.

Thanks for sharing the photos, folks! VERY inspirational!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 5:16PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Jane, I've been 'updating' on 'Back on the Begonia Bandwagon II' for this growing year - 2008.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 3:01PM
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