Rex Begonia - How to make them happier?

angeleyedcatNovember 24, 2009

I have several Rex Begonias (all noids) for about 1 1/2 years that I grow in a north window year round in a bright room (north and east windows total about 14 feet tall and 20 feet in width so their area has a lot of light but no sun at all) There is no central air or A/C so during the summer they are generally the same temperature as outside in PA and during the winter it ranges from 68 to 72 day/night. Average natural humidity is high in summer since the windows are open, usually 70% is the lowest, in winter the average natural humidity is 60% -70%.

Last winter I kept them growing in the same soil they came in, they didn't go dormant but did lose a few leaves. Late this summer I repotted all of them in box store african violet soil since I wasn't sure what to use. I water them when they are starting to be a bit dry about 1/2 inch deep - usually once a week, sometimes a little longer depending on season. I fertilize weekly with Schultz African Violet liquid fertilizer in late spring, summer and early fall, no fertilizer in winter.

Here is an example of 2 of them. They aren't doing poorly, yet they aren't doing well either. None are excited to be alive, they are just living. I'd assume that after this much time they would have developed better growth. Does anyone have suggestions how to make them a bit happier? More/less light? Different potting soil (is now a good time to repot?) Different fertilizer? A great website information link? Thank you :)

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angeleyedcat

Additional Info - no, the soil isn't white or have fuzzy stuff on it, it is normal african violet soil, that must be the flash which I can't get to turn off :)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 11:10AM
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hcmcdole(z7)

Typically rexes will go semi-dormant in winter but it depends on what conditions they grew in during summer. Since you are growing yours indoors year round then there probably wouldn't be much change so they may just continue plodding along.

For best growth you could move them outdoors for summer. The next best thing you could do is mimic the great outdoors which means warmth, light, and humidity.

The next time you repot, move them to a slightly bigger pot and add slow release fertilizer if it isn't already in the potting mix.

As for the flash on the camera it could probably be turned off by putting it in manual mode and then turning off the flash (how old and what model is it?)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 12:16PM
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angeleyedcat

Plodding along, that definately describes it. I had thought about putting them outside last summer but we had so much rain that whole season I figured they'd drown so I didn't. I'll definately try them outside next summer. Just found a bag - it's Miracle Grow African Violet Potting Soil, says it's "enriched". Is there a better potting soil I can buy or make for them? I've already got the AV soil, Miracle Grow Cactus Soil, Perlite, Sphagnum peat moss. I've also got more of these used for my orchids - long fiber Sphagnum moss and several different sizes of orchid bark.
It's my daughters cannon, I'll just ask her how to do it when she gets home. Thanks so much for asking and your help :)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 6:21PM
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hcmcdole(z7)

I use Miracle Gro potting soil and all my begonias did very well this summer despite torrential rains in Sep and Oct (at least a couple of feet of rain). Just make sure the drainage holes don't get clogged. I had one pot out of hundreds that clogged (and this is while I was gone for a week during the monsoon or so it seemed like) and the begonias were looking pretty sad. I hope I saved them (pulled the rhizomes out and put them in a small container with perlite). Perlite/orchid bark is good to add if the soil seems heavy.

I have a Canon compact and the flash is fairly easy to turn off. You may not want to if it is too dark in the room unless you turn the ISO to High.

Some rexes from this summer shot by the little Canon.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 8:45PM
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angeleyedcat

This one's a little compact too and your right, turns out it was easy to turn off. Wow what stunning Rex's you have! I especially love the second to last photo, how beautiful. Photos like this are why I wanted to try a few. Too bad I can't threaten mine with the photos. I do think you're right, outside makes a difference for many of my other houseplants, I'll make sure the Rex's spend the summer out.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 11:15PM
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pizzapatti(5)

absolutely beautiful!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 11:59AM
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littlehelper(7b)

very nice Rex's. I must look for them a bit harder....

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 12:26AM
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