Dragon Wing Propagation

tom8olvr(Z5 MA)September 6, 2007

I successfully grew Dragon Wing Begonias from seed this past year. I've always grown Super Olympia series with no problem - so I thought I'd try the Dragon Wings. They are the most beautiful begonia I have ever grown! LOOOONG time to flower though... They are massed in a 4X100 foot bed and OMG! The seed is approximately 20 times more expensive, but I'd like to grow them again - but the thought of the expense kills me! I've done cuttings with Imps and thought may be I could do cuttings (I don't want to bring plants in the house). Could I start them in a 72 cell insert and keep them in that for the winter?? I'm limited with space. Has anyone done this? I'm prone to try it - but has anyone had success/failure with this?

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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

My current one I grew from a scraggly cutting of someone else's plant that needed cutting back--just stuck it in a pot. It didn't get growing for awhile, so maybe it would be okay over the winter in the house--don't know how long your winters are. Mine are pretty short. They do get pretty big after a few months.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 10:48PM
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Hi Tom. You can make cuttings from the Dragon Wing and Baby Wing begonias, but...

If your stem you've rooted does not contain a nonbranching node (one that a branch would grow out of instead of the bloom stalk) then you may not end up with a bushy plant, just one long stem that continues to grow a new leaf and bloom stalk on the end, and if you 'pinched' off the tip to try to encourage new growth from below, it will just sit there. But...

A friend gave me 2 cuttings this past February. I stuck them in water, in 2 weeks they had developed in inch of roots so I potted in soil, placed in sunny window and away they grew. Each week, a new leaf and bloom stalk. But with one, he (I'm a girl, so my plants are all boys, right?) grew a leaf with no bloom stalk, and as the weeks progressed that leaf turned into a branch that branched 3 more times before reverting to bloom stalks, and each of those new branches branched themselves 2 to 3 more times before producing just bloom stalks, and on and on. So now I have a large, bushy plant with many (20) growing tips all producing a bloom stalk and looking lovely. The other cutting just continued to grow longer and longer, with one new bloomstalk on it's lonely tip.

Our summers here are not long enough to experiment, who knows, maybe soon the single stalked cutting would branch out, but right now the plant looks strange compared to the one that branched out - and mind you all it needed was that one new branch to completely fill out the plant, because then each new branch would branch again. Maybe someone else on this forum would be able to explain why, myself I don't know. But I did purchase a sweet baby wing begonia this spring, and peeking at the base it continues to put forth newer branches from below, and the longer stems, once they've started to bloom, just continue to bloom and get longer and arch out. So with that plant I am making cuttings for my friend ('cause they asked) but for me I will bring in the whole plant before frost, cut all the long stems right back to where I see them branching off, and try to overwinter. Wish me luck, we have loooong winters!


    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 3:49PM
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Kioni Hi,
I am so new to propagation so hope you don't mind me asking what is a "nonbranching node" ? I only have one dragon wing and I rescued it, so it looks pretty sad. I plan on cutting it back and was thinking about doing some stem cuttings but want to make sure I cut it right so the cuttings grow well.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 8:34PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Well, it sounds as if you've done more experimentation with cuttings of dragon wings... I'm in zone 5, so we have a long winter, but not like you in Z3. I'm prone to try it even if I get a non-branching cutting... Was there anyway you could tell the difference between the two cuttings? I am going to try doing some cuttings in the 72 cell inserts - bring in approximately 4 trays which will give me 288 plants. I need at least 250 to fill one bed - if I get a 86% success with the cuttings I'll have 250 plants. I'm going to attempt to do them right before the frost that way I can have them in the house for the least amount of time as possible! :) As a precaution I'll break down and buy the seed as well $$$.
But I pose the question to you - could you tell the diff between the two cuttings?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 9:04AM
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Passion for flowers: as the branch grows it produces a leaf and in the axil of the leaf is the bud for the bloom stalk. With good sun this occurs almost at the same time - you see the new little leaf unfolding and a smaller package with a redish hue which will turn out to be the flower. Once the bloom stalk is down and falls off (or if you're like me when it looks ratty I snap it off) there will just be a scar there and from what I can tell that spot will never produce another bud whether for flower or a branch. What I'd read on another post for cane type (angel wing?) begonias which is what I think is part of the parentage of this plant, if you pinch the tip of the branch off to encourage branching to occur below, branching will occur only at a spot (leaf) that did not have a bloom. From what I can tell by my one cutting that did branch off - and I did not tip prune since it did such a good job becoming bushy on it's own - is that on the stem where it branched out it appeared to me that it was developing a new little 'bud' that wasn't in the leaf axil, it was way to the side. Since I didn't pinch I can't prove it, but I feel if I would have pinched the stem that bud would have developed into another branch. Hope this helps.

Thanks for waiting Tom8olvr: With the 2 cuttings I received, one stem was slightly (just slightly) thicker than the other, and the thicker one was a couple days ahead of starting it's roots than the lessor (so maybe a more robust stem?). Other than that, once put into soil they both grew at the same rate, both of them started to produce bigger leaves with the increase in daylength, to me it just seemed a fluke that the one had spit out a lone leaf with no bloomstalk, until I figured out it was a branch. So for me it was a 50% success rate, I was initially disappointed because I wanted two plants to put in my pot, but the one cutting more than surpassed my expectations. I plan to visit my pal later in the week, I will make a point to check the 2 cuttings I gave back to her, just to see if they did branch out again or whether they stayed as solitary stems. My friend feels they didn't branch, but then if you were to see the size of yard she takes care of, this could be a fact she would overlook. She also keeps the original 'mother' plant in a north window, it's leaves are tiny and it hardly grows in the winter for the lack of light. I'm curious to see whether the 2 stems that sacrificed their ends for my cuttings put out a new branch(es) or not. It's a plant that for indoor use I'd have chucked long ago, and I had my doubts whether it would root for me and do well, but she was willing to part with a couple of cuttings, they were free, so what do I have to lose? Hope this helps, if I learn more I will share.

You say you are limited for room, if you are 86% successful in rooting branching cuttings, they would get quite large before spring. You will have begonias all over!


    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 2:07AM
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Hi again tomato-lover, I love how you spelled your name! If you search this site with words 'angel wing pruning' you should come across an older thread talking about making cuttings with leaves, and it sounds like someone has had success with making dragon wing cuttings with leaves - wouldn't that be great? There is someone else on the same thread that seems to doubt it, and there is also confusion as to whether they are speaking about angel wings or dragon wings - I am thinking this is the thread I came across that caused me to try to research more about whether making cuttings would be a success, and I felt that by reading various other articles on the internet, it seemed best to use seed or buy a nursery plant started from seed.

Oddly, in one nursery here, they had the plants (bushy), then they had hanging planters started and in those they definitely used cuttings since those plants were single stem, say 3 plants in a 10 inch pot, and other annuals were interplanted in the pot also (I know you're not doing pots). I've also seen some planters growing around the neighborhood that I suspect the owner bought/started with a cutting since the begonia stem trailed down a couple feet with only a large bloomstalk at the end, but with other trailing and upright plants mixed in it looked great.

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 12:08PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)


Thanks - most people call me Tom (which is great) but don't pick up on the tomato lover... :)

So you really couldn't tell the difference between the two cuttings you got from your friend... Humph. Good to know. I'll try and pick the most robust of the bunch (as I said, I have a lot to chose from) so this is helpful.

I'm going to try it - what will it hurt? I'll let you know what I come up with - But I probably won't do cuttings until right before the frost - I REALLY don't want to have them in the house (my history with bringing things in the house for winter - anything - is poor - sorry to say I have little patience..) This is where I have space issues. Outside - plenty of space - inside? Not so much... so if I could do the 4 trays of 72 that would be manageable for me. When do you think i'll have to transplant into larger containers? Probably Christmas - when I'm bringing in the tree! :)

I have to say - when I started dragon wings from seed I potted a bunch up and gave them away as gifts - some people ended up with a nice bushy plant covered with blossoms - others ended up with this big long stem with a leaf nodes and one little shoot of red flowers at the end. Which makes me think there might be an environmental factor in there - ? Some taking better care (larger pot, fertilizing, watering regularly, etc.) of their plants?? They were all from seeds - not cuttings.

so I can expect to have these cuttings in the house for approximately 7 months... put that way - I'm not sure I can do this. I'm going to try - I'll keep you posted.

Keep me posted on your cuttings from your friend.

Thanks for all.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Hi - as for "dumb" questions. What is the pinch and poke method - is it literally just what it sounds like? Pinch off (okay where do I pinch) and poke into soil?

I have two gorgeous dragonfly begonias in hanging pots that I'd like to save over the winter and also start cuttings for next spring - BUT I'm new to this.

Where do I pinch, do I need to root in water or root stimulator and dirt? Do I need to cut my large begonias back before bringing indoors? (I'm going to need to replant since they are in hanging pots.) Need instructions for the beginner, please:) thanks!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 10:06AM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

Yes, 'pinch and poke' is exactly what it sounds like, tho' I prefer to cut rather than pinch. Cut just below a node--that's where the leaves come out--and poke it in a pot of good-draining soil. You can use a rooting hormone if you want to, but I never do and seldom lose any. Several people here have pointed out that it's best to use a branch that hasn't bloomed--but if that's all you've got I've found the ones with flowers or that previously had flowers will work too--take off the flowers. Best not to use those if you have a choice tho'. Is that clear?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 11:04PM
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Hey tom8olvr, here's the update on the tip cuttings I'd given back to my friend: they continued to grow healthy, big leaves, big bloom stalks and NO branching. Just 2 thick long stems with large glossy rich green leaves. Taken care of well, in a spot allowing them morning sun 'till just past lunch, so to me conditions not an inhibiting factor, just didn't feel like branching? Who knows. Took a look at her indoor one that grows in a large north window, bright light but no direct sun, and some stems are more than 3 feet long with no branching, the stems she'd snipped to give me a cutting appear to have started a new branch at the tip, but that's it, no other new branching further back. I've no advise to you but to try your cuttings and get a better % of how many branch out, or maybe take some bottoms like I am doing.

I'd brought my baby wing indoors since we are experiencing lows near freezing, and I'd read somewhere pertaining to geranium cuttings that once temps fall below say 50*F the cellular structure changes and the plant may have a harder time rooting, but back to my plant, I cut back severely and still thought the base was too big to keep, so I cut through the base, in an attempt to separate it, keeping a relatively thick chunk of stem on each portion (I made 3). Those are each potted in a 4 inch pot, I'll allow to grow through the winter even if they become spindly, come spring I will cut back and give the best sunny spot I've got and see if I get more stems coming up from the base near or beneath the soil. If this works I'll let you know, and then I will know whether this is something I can do each winter, only if I end up with a good performing plant by June as I would have had, had I purchased one from the greenhouse. If not, then I feel I'm better off saving window space for plants that reward me back, and I'll shell out the money to buy a new baby wing if I want it. Good Luck with your project!

Tnfreds: I find the dragon wing begonia roots real easy, I just stuck in one of those peat thingys, the ones that are dry and flat and you soak in warm water before adding your seed/cutting. I stuck in a bright spot that received some south sun (kind of sheltered behind a larger plant), they had evidence of roots within 3 weeks. I think these are tough plants. The issue is with getting them to branch, they do not grow like geranium cuttings, that's for sure.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 9:33PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I'm thinking I'm going to need luck -

So, I have not taken the cuttings yet - and it's been under 50 at night now - here in Z5... So I may have already ruined my chances of getting something going! LOVELY!

Tell me Kioni, about your baby wings? How do they compare to the regular dragon wings? I saw them in the catalog and wondered how they'd compare to the regular dragon wings - are they as vigorous? Are they more upright? My dragon wings are well over 24" at this point - would baby wings pale in comparison? Are the leaves green or bronzy? I'm not a fan of the bronze leaf... please let me know.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 11:36AM
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Don't worry, tom8olvr, 50F is still pretty good, and what I'd read about had to do with geraniums, and people pretty particular about how they do their cuttings. I've done cuttings in the fall (geraniums) and some would fail, whereas when I tried them in the warmer early August (our cooler weather is September) and I had better success.

I LOVED my babywing pink begonia. To compare to the regular Dragon wings, let's see. BW has smaller leaves (which I liked), bright green, not the darker green that I found on the DW, grew more upright but as the branches got longer with the weight of the flowers they drooped somewhat, and the plant overall does not get as large as the DW, I felt growth was pretty good. I don't know how to do links, but if you can check on 'Dave's Garden' website (I hope I am allowed to make reference to another website - no offence intended towards GardenWEB-my favourite!), someone has posted a photo of theirs, and it's big, but I think they are in a warmer zone (like 7, how wonderful) and they can keep the whole plant in their porch over winter and set out for a longer summer, and it looks bee-you-tee-full. Mine started to set seed pods later in the summer, which were a dark pink and contrasted nicely with the bright green leaves and paler pink flowers. Everyone who came over mentioned how cute that plant was - I had one plant in a 10 inch azzalea clay pot and it did look cute, I found the DW looked rather 'rough' in my other pot, the BW seemed a softer, finer look to it, probably because of the smaller leaves. I can't say how this would look for you, since it sounds like you've got such a large area of ground to fill and need impact, which I think the red blooms of the DW give, and the pink would not so much.

Hey, just for fun, go onto the forum 'cottage gardens' on Garden web, (I do need to figure out how to do links, huh?) and search with the words 'red bed' and check out gottagarden's post on her red bed, would you be able/interested to do something like that for your large area? Just an idea, it sure impressed me!

Have fun with your cuttings, post again if you need, I check in each week.

Bye, kioni.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 4:51PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

May be I will try to do the cuttings with the red dragon wings and buy the seed for the white baby wings... ? I'm doing a white, red, salmon combo next year and white babywings might be a good contribution to that. They seem to be coming up with new varieties of the 'dragonwing' series all the time.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.photoshow.com/members/_fc440732f9b8d4a/all/Es6Vp9Vr

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 10:44AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Kioni, Well, I did 144 cuttings off the dragon wings. It may have been too late - and 1/2 way through I though this better NOT be wasted time and these guys take! I hope to do 144 more after I get an idea of whether or not these first 144 'take'.

I did check your 'red bed' and daves garden - I am impresesed. The red bed wouldn't work for me because I'm in deep shade at the top of the bed and dappled sun at the bottom (where I put the begonias). I DID make another 3' X 100' bed along the other side of the property (yes, I'm a glutten for punishment) so these cuttings could seriously help me out for next spring.

I am very interested in your BW - may be in white.

I attached a photoshow above - I'll attach it again - it is of my flower gardens early in the season (July) but had just started taking off... give you an idea on what I've been doing.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.photoshow.com/members/_fc440732f9b8d4a/all/Es6Vp9Vr

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 10:17AM
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Hello- I just found your thread today on Dragon Wings. I have two dragon wings (pink flowers) that were doing BEAUTIFULLY all summer in my sunny window in my apartment. Then, about a month ago, the leaves began to turn yellow and didn't look so hot anymore. I cut them back, but after reading your posts, I cut them back further because the ends of the tips where I previously cut turned blackish. And I took one shoot off that has a bloom on the end (the one long stem left) and stuck it in a water bottle to try and get that to root.

Does anyone know why their leaves turn yellow? I was really hoping to overwinter these two beauties. I've overwintered geraniums-- they always stay in my windows b/c I have no outdoor area to plant. (Even though one pot with three different geraniums hasn't bloomed in a while, but I digress...)


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 9:47AM
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My apologies I just reposted this in another forum under yellow leaves on begonias. Thanks. :)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:00AM
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