Tuberous begonias, fall care

linnea56(z5 IL)September 20, 2005

I know from skimming your posts that you guys on this forum are used to more exotic begonias, but maybe you can point me to a FAQ somewhere.

I have Non-stop Begonias in containers outside. Do I lift them after a killing frost? How do I store them? They were very slow to sprout and bloom. I think when I planted them it was too cold outside (May?). I think it was more than a month until I got sprouts, so now they have not been blooming for that long. I assume this kind needs a dormant period, so there would be no advantage to bring the pots inside for winter? I don't have room for all, would have to pick and choose.

Assuming the tubers make it through the winter, how to I start them next spring to get faster bloom? I have very little indoor window space. Can they be started in something small (like a peat pot) then tranplanted into the outdoor containers?

Thanks for your help!

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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

It's been too many years since I lived in a climate where I could grow tuberous begonias, but since you've gone this long without an answer I'll try. If you can bring yours in to a brightly lighted area you could probably get bloom for awhile yet, especially since they started late. It would be best, I think, to let them die down naturally (which isn't very decorative!) rather than let the frost do it. Then you can shake off the soil and store them cool in dry peat moss. In the spring, a month or so before it's time to put them out, pot them up, (small pots are fine) and put them in a warm place. I used to start them on top of the refrigerator--light isn't necessary until they sprout. Even back in the dark ages when I was growing them, I put them under fluorescent lights if I didn't have any more window space. Now with the bulbs that can be screwed into any fixture it's much easier to light an unusued corner. If pot growers can use closets, why can't we?!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 1:40AM
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tbenton(Z7 VA)

My tuberous begonias are in hanging pots. This is their first year and they are lovely. Took a while for them to bloom but even though its October they are flourishing. Do I have to remove the tubers to 'winter' them or can I just take the foliage off when it dies back and leave the tubers in the pots in a cool place indoors? Thanks


    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 10:19AM
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turn2(KS z5)

How do I let them die naturally? I have always before just let them freeze but I would like to try to save them this winter. I have so many of them.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 4:57PM
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aphrodite(z4 Wisconsin)

This is what I do:

Dig the tuber out before a hard frost, brush off most of the dirt and lay the tuber on a piece of newspaper in the basement for a week or so to let it dry off.

Then I put them in a covered box in a cool dark dry corner of the basement for the winter.

By February you will see little pink sprouts. Those that are really light in weight probably didn't make it. In March I pot them up in pots and put them in a sunny warm place.

By mid May you can transplant them to their summer locations (depending on your spring).


    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 10:28AM
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turn2(KS z5)

Thanks!!! that information was helpful. I'll do it.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:02AM
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I have a unfinished basement,so I just take down my begonias,and hang them on a nail that I pounded into side of rafter(the 2x8 that suspends the floor of upstairs),let them dry down on their own,in dark area,with no windows.then in spring about April I bring them up,water and place in full sunny spot(.they never leave the pots)if we're still having night frost,I will bring them in overnight then take out to sunny spot again in morning......very seldom do I loose a plant,some I have over wintered for 5 years or more.....good luck,.........sunset

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 3:02PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

Great information! I was wondering the same thing, and now I have the answer (love Gardenweb!)
Thanks all :-)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 5:43PM
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I do...almost..the same as Aphrodite....I've removed them now...frost had visited...but not too hard a frost, just enough to wilt the foliage.
Lifted, cleaned of soil with fingers, dried for a day or so in the garage, then down into my coldcellar until February.

But then, I put them into a covered seed pot, and place them (4 in each pot) ontop of the refrigerator for about 6 weeks. At that time, having roots formed, they go into 4" pots until transferred to a clay pot out of doors in late May.

I've found this routine my most successful way of obtaining good returns.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 5:36PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Diane, what's a seed pot? Is that just a very small pot? I'm a little confused. I assumed you meant small until I read, "4 in each pot"! And on top of the refrigerator is because of the warmth? Mine started so slow this year! If that gives them a boost I'll try it. Do you water them too or wait to see growth?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 6:23PM
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Linnea, I just knew I was going to be asked that..I was hoping a reader would know what I was talking about.
Its the long plastic container that is for starting seeds know, has a plastic clear cover so light can penetrate.

That's what I use....4 tubers in each of two I use.
The refrigerator is a good place to start bulbs and seeds since the heat given off is just perfect for their initial start. anyway, for 5 or 6 weeks I leave them there and they develop roots ....slow but sure.
Then into 4" pots where they go into a south-west facing window where they stay until they go outsiee into a 8" clay pot.

I keep them watered as needed. Its worked for the past two years and I get marvellous bloom....albeit late in the season.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 5:35PM
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janellojr(ZONE 5)

Will this work with fibrous rooted also? THANKS

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 1:55AM
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Jan, sorry about the time interval, I've just been lazy about returning to the site. Right now, in my living room window I have two fibrous begonias saved from a window box...and its now been about 6 weeks they have lasted bloom.

I don't expect them to continue for very long in the bloom stage. Whether they can be "saved" as I do my geraniums and tuberous begonia has yet to be proved. Last year I did the same thing and when I went to retrieve my others in February, the fibrous did not come back as I had hoped.

I have seen reference to the fibrous being saved as I have a western exposure window....but I haven't seen anybody suggesting they will act the same as geranium.

One plant that is supposed to act the same is "coleus".
With the new colorful versions of coleus available this is the one plant I think many will try to winter over...either in flower or otherwise.

If you have a cool place to store the plant....possibly in the pot, maybe you will have better luck. I always use the "what if" approach. It ties up space in my coldcellar sometimes I think could be better used for something else.....but what the hey....

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 1:59PM
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I have kept my begnias blooming all winter. Have I ruined my options for wintering them over with a dormant period?
Is it too late? What do I do now to assure they are going to bloom this summer?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 2:53PM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

Yes you are too late. Don't force tuberous begonias to go dormant now. I have started my begonias, it's Spring! My guess is that you should refresh their soil gently if needed. Old soil breaks down to fine particles and doesn't drain well. Fertilize them when it's warm enough for them to grow. Mine are under lights and getting light feedings when I water. When it is time to pot them up I will use a time release fertilizer in the soil. If you're an organic guy, blood and bone meal instead.
Going dormant is an advantage for plant and gardener to take a break. Dormancy allows a plant to make it through the dry or cold season. I think they will bloom this summer and you can get on schedule with allowing dormancy next fall.
You should start your own post instead of using this old post. You're are likely to hear form more people.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 2:01AM
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