How to keep/store tuberous begonias

linnea56(z5 IL)November 7, 2008

I brought 3 tuberous begonia plants inside right before a frost 2 weeks ago. All were blooming heavily. Now they are all dropping leaves. The leaves turn pale, dry up and drop off. But there are still plenty of flowers.

I know IÂm supposed to store the tubers until spring but I donÂt know when to dig them up. I grew some last year and they started declining as soon as they were inside, ending with the stems dropping off or rotting at ground level. When I went to dig up the tubers they had rotted. ItÂs looking like these are going the same route. Do I withhold watering at some point? When, when they are still blooming?

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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago


    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:54PM
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I have dug the tubers and stored them in a cool dark place in my house. I have not watered them and 2 of the 5 are now starting to grow slightly again. My question is when to replant them in the house to start them so I have a good size plant to put outside in the spring. Can you help me please? Thanks

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 12:59AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

This is what I have done with my Begonias, in the fall we get a lot of rain so I don't wait for the frost to hit them before I bring them in. If in pots stop watering and the tops will eventually dry up and fall off or dig with a clump of soil and put in flats until the tops fall off. When this happens dig them out clean off the old potting medium and inspect for weevil damage or rot. I've pulled weevils out with a toothpick. I usually store my tubers in a styrofoam box in peat moss or shavings in a cool dark place until the end of February.

If you are going to start these in the house you can do it now, remember they need good light or they will be straggly, florescent lights, or a window with very good light will do the job. If they start to stretch they're not getting enough light. A

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 3:40PM
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Beckswife, the begonia probably received sufficient light and maybe you sprinkled them did you, but they would have preferred the cool, dark, and being left alone.
Now...its February, the sun is fast returning, so it is OK to bring them out now and start them --either in soil, or out of it, by simply placing them ontop of the fridge where the heat from there will slowly start them rooting.

Yours evidently has already begun its OK to pot them up, water them well to drainage, dump the excess, put them in a sunny window where they will sit and wait to come to something....a little fuzz will show on the surface...that's them, popping up....water them only when the soil stops feeling damp...and water only to keep them damp. Planting them only JUST UNDER the soil....JUST!
The tip is OK to see.

It'll take months before they come to something...but by mid May they should be able to go outside.
It might take another month or two to flower...but not to worry, when they do flower, they speak volumes of what they're worth.

And for readers that when they look at the bulb, they cant decide which end is up.....not to worry, just plant on their sides. The bulb knows which end is up.
The concave end is what goes up.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 7:33PM
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It is such a useful stuff and I found a lot of useful information here. Thanks for sharing.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:30AM
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Next fall, let your begonia be touched by frost.
Much like dahlia, the frost will kill the foliage. That's your cue to bring them in --- to a garage or other place, where they have the stalks removed, flowers go too, and let them dry for a couple days before they go into storage.
Just like geraniums, they can be stored where it is cool, dark, and dry. There left to spend the winter.
No sprinkling, no water of any kind, no light which can initiate growth, no heat...just cool, in the range of 38 - 50ºF....

AT this time you might make note of the color of the flower on each bulb so that next spring, you can plant accoridng to that wish. If the bulb doesn't have a particular look showing which side is up, put them on a shelf designating which end had the roots. Most times though you can feel the concave end---that's the top.
Old roots too can give it away.

Now I believe the frost treatment allows the bulb to send its starches and sugars back down into the bulb....much like why we let the tulips wilt on the vine, to do the same.
The next spring, the bulb has all the energy that wasn't destroyed by removing the foliage too soon.

If the begonia goes inside to enjoy the bloom for as long as it will, then do much the same, remove the foliage, let it dry, then store it where cool.

As far as why the foliage wilted, the distinct temperature change from out of doors to indoors, is probably what caused it. Keep cutting back the water and let the bulb use less and let it go dry.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 4:32PM
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