Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

mark4321_gwAugust 27, 2013

Earlier I posted a question about Begonia dregei seedlings, which it turns out have leaves that are curiously spotted when young. I believe I've read that one variety keeps the spots but most do not. This Begonia species is notable in that it is considered "semi-tuberous" or caudex forming, and is thus a natural candidate for Bonsai.

I thought it would be worthwhile to show more pictures of this plant and the stages of growth, so I decided to start another thread.

I received my Begonia dregei as part of a trade, labeled with the name Begonia 'Richardsiana', which I understand is among several considered varieties of the species. I believe the plant originally comes from Select Seeds in CT. I don't know whether it was a seedling or a rooted cutting. I would probably vote for a rooted cutting.

When I received the plant last year it arrived already bearing a seedpod. I've given cuttings to a friend and I'm told it is easy to root. I've read it can also be propagated by leaf cuttings.

The plant has been outside continuously for roughly a year. Here's what the plant looks like now: floppy and in need of a bigger pot, mainly because it's top heavy. It's in bloom and has a new seedpod that appears to be almost mature (labeled). I gather the tendency of this species/variety to form seeds by self-pollination is high.

it does have a caudex, which I haven't tried to fully expose. The fact that it is not bigger, with more branches arising, leads me to think this is a rooted cutting. However if anyone has reason to think otherwise please speak up:

The stem is swollen in odd places, making it strangely beautiful:

The plant arrived last year with a seedpod, which soon matured and produced a number of seeds. I didn't plant any for a long time, and gave some away. When I finally planted some this year I found that they germinated easily (on the surface of moist peat/perlite in a ziploc bag under a fluorescent light), after a couple weeks or so. Even though the seeds were tiny, the seedlings quickly produced larger leaves:

And the seedlings grew quickly under lights, and I ended up transferring them to more pots and with fewer (ideally one) in each pot. I've already given a number away and lost a potfull to squirrels.

Here's what the seedlings that have been inside look like. Notice the spots on the leaves as well as all of the reddish coloration. These are potted individually:

Here's a closeup view of one of the seedlings so you can see the small caudex as well as how heavily branched it is:

I did put some of the seedlings outside. This pot of about 10 seedlings survived the squirrels. Note how some of the newest growth is starting to become more mature in terms of shape and lack of spots. Also note that the coloration is mostly green, with less of the red pigmentation of those grown under lights:

Here are those seedlings seen from the side, so that you can see the small caudexes:

Finally, here's a seedling that has been living in a bright windowsill at my mom's. The newest leaves are transitioning to a mature form, and it already has buds.

So the "problem" that I alluded to in the title is that I already have more seedlings potted up than I can deal with, with about 10 more to be potted up, and more seeds to come if I catch this years pod(s) in time.

I really don't need more Begonias (or plants) at this point, although there are always a few things I'm looking for. I may see if I can relocate some of these locally--there's a plant society in a nearby town that sells plants that perhaps I could give some to. I will likely put some up for postage eventually--I just moved most of the indoor-growing plants outside. However if someone is sure they are looking for this plant or seeds for postage, feel free to contact me at any point.

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B. richardsiana is not a variety, it was formerly one of the 'valid' names for B. dregei which has surely been known by many names as different people thought they were the original discoverers. So, richardsiana should be the same as dregei. And there are many hybrids of this begonia. I have a page full of different leaf shapes this plant used to produce under different names.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:52AM
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I understand that a number of different "species" are now properly considered B. dregei. I used to have B. partita, which I think I probably got at Kartuz. Whether B. partita, richardsiana, etc. are all independent synonyms or whether they represent "varieties" is an argument for the taxonomists and botanists. However, there is precedent for the use of the term "Begonia dregei var. richardsiana" in a botanical garden's collection (link at bottom). The link to the photo at U. Connecticut seems to no longer work.

Whether or not the botanists consider this a variety or a synonym of dregei is not the point. The point is that there are several somewhat different looking plants that were originally given different names. Now all are considered Begonia dregei. I doubt many botanists would object to non-botanists simply calling these different "varieties" of the species.

Here is a link that might be useful: Database indicating use of

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:01PM
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The link is supposed to say:

"Database indicating use of "Begonia dregei var. richardsiana""

I'll try again without the quotes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Database indicating use of Begonia dregei var. richardsiana

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Logee's has a great article about propagating this plant from seed and cuttings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Begonia Bonsai Propagation at Logee’s

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 1:23PM
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About 10 years back the begonia society decided to follow the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. So, if nothing has changed since then, we have Begonia dregei 'Partita'; Begonia dregei 'Suffruticosa'; and Begonia dregei 'Suffruticosa Bolusii'. Also one from Scotland, Begonia dregei 'Glasgow', I've never seen the latter but there is a good photo on the Astrobranch site.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 9:05AM
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