What kinds of begonias are you growing?

greenelbows1(z9--so LA)November 11, 2006

I'm curious. I know quite a few of you grow tuberous begonias, which melt in our heat and humidity. I think most folks who garden at all grow some semps and probably that wonderful group of Dragon Wings. Some of you grow a few canes (Angel Wings) and others grow some Rexes. I'm interested in what begonias are available locally--wherever your 'locally' is--and if any of you are getting them in the mail from eBay and the various (too few!) mail order places. So what do you grow, and where did you get them?

Guess I should say I try to get as many different kinds as I can find, locally, from friends, by mail-order--and I have no idea how many I have. Can't count that high! or maybe it's just that I'm afraid to!

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I'm interested in them all. Rhizos and rexes I have the most of with canes coming in a close third. Tuberous is what got me into begonias in the first place but I rarely buy them anymore but I may try them again in the near future (either treat them as annuals or make a better attempt at keeping them from rotting - coir lined baskets works great for this type).

As for local stores, I have been able to get a few at the big 3 box stores at various times. There are also a few local nurseries whether it is a chain or a Mom and Pop nursery. Ace Hardware is a pleasant surprise but waiting between shipments can be tedious (I try to visit every other week to see if they get anything new). Ace gets very well grown, harder to find types, and at a pretty good price. Usually you will come out ahead buying locally.

As for buying mail-order, I have bought from the following: Kartuz (very nice this last time - maybe they have become more oriented to the mail order side since Brad Thompson has moved there), eBay (Aurika has the best selection and is not the teeny things you usually get via mail order), other eBay sellers (some are high and have very small plants - Watch out for shipping costs), Logees which is good and bad, Glasshouse Works was a real big disappointment this year, Lauray (small plants and slow to ship, but big selection and decent prices), Rob's Violets (very good all around - just not a huge selection), Palm Hammock (I have found it a lot better to actually visit in person than mail order), Accents for your home (prices are decent and plants are good sized but selection is limited), Plants for Kids (quick shipping, big plants, mostly rexes), Hortus Botanicus (very limited selection), Plant Safari (a few nice plants but owner is very disorganized), and a couple others.

Based on this past year of buying mail order I would go with Kartuz, Aurika (if you want to bid), Rob's, and Logees. I haven't ordered from Palm Hammock in about 3 years since I've visited there last year and this year. Their mail order was usually slow and could get things wrong. Maybe they've improved like Kartuz.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 9:28AM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

Hey, Butch, good to hear from you!
One of the things I like about Lauray is that I can get cuttings of most things for half the listed price, and I'm a 'gesneri-addict' too, and she's an excellent source for them. Got my first order from Glasshouse Works this fall, and was generally pleased. Probably cheated a bit--got asked to give a talk on begonias about a month or so after I sent them the order, and it occurred to me to ask them if they could send them before the meeting. (I knew from reports they weren't exactly speedy about sending things.) They did, tho' they were not really big enough to take to the meeting--and anyway I was leaving the plants I took for the members with the exception of my B. prismatocarpa 'Variegation'! But I've been quite willing to recommend them. I've been trying to work up my courage to order from Kartuz again--my last experience was really negative. But they're the ones who pushed me over the cliff from interested to seriously addicted! Thought probably Brad Thompson would make a difference. I get what I can find locally, and there is one nursery that is particularly good, and have friends who are getting increasingly interested and we trade. I like to think I have helped them get more interested, as they have helped me. I check the Palm Hammock site regularly but haven't ordered yet--have ordered from Logee's and Rob's many times and completely agree with your assesment, tho' I'm sad Logee's has so many less begonias than they used to. Quite a few years ago we started having a 'flower festival' locally, where large and small growers bring plants and a part of the proceeds go to support the local university's horticulture department and greenhouses. When we started I had a booth, and bought mixed small begonias from Logee's to sell. It was a great service, but I don't think they provide it anymore. I left their tags in so people knew where to order more.
Hope some others will chime in here with their experiences!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2006 at 11:24PM
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GrowHappy(z7 MD)

Hi Nancy,

I'm growing canes, rexes, rhizos and 1 mallet type(I think- it's Begonia 'Caravan'). The rhizos are easiest for me because they can stand to dry a LITTLE more than those rexes. Rexes are hardest for me, but I keep trying. The canes do okay, but, generally, I let them dry out too much and they get those ugly brown edges. Not sure if this may be botrytis or not.

By the way, what type of begonia is 'Cracklin Rosie'? She's doing really well for me. Also doing well are 'Plum Gorgeous', some noid canes from Glasshouseworks, and my beefsteak begonia. I have several now growing under lights that are making a comeback- 'Persian Brocade', 'Thurstonii', 'Helen Teupel' and a noid Rex. It's a great accomplishment for me NOT to kill a Rex. LOL

As far as vendors are concerned, I order from the mainstream ones- Glasshouseworks, Kartuz and Logees. I've been well pleased with all purchases from these vendors.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 8:02PM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

Cracklin' Rosie is really gorgeous, isn't she? Takes a lot of abuse in my somewhat inconsistant care and keeps her leaves even when I don't water often enough. I discovered recently when I was asked to give a talk on begonias, that as I was preparing I would look at a begonia and say 'oh, this is one of my very favorites', and I must say Cracklin' Rosie is one of those! She's a cane, and just so I wouldn't say the wrong thing I looked her up and I'm now a little more confused than I was
(and that's hard!) Her parents are 'Silvermist' (another one of my very favorites!) and 'Orange Rubra', which I don't think I've grown. Silvermist is classed as a superba cane, and I think Orange Rubra is an 'all others' cane, a classification only a classifier would find helpful (lol!) So I don't know what kind of cane that would make it. 'Caravan' is a shrubby--or I should say 'shrub-like'. If memory serves it used to be called 'Serlis'--don't know why the name was changed. (This only stays with me because my maiden name is Searle and I was attracted to this begonia originally because of the similarity of the names.) It's one of a small group of begonias that are called listada-type because of their resemblance to B. listida, a parent. They have dark green leaves with light green veins in various amounts, and are--guess what!--some of my favorites!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 11:02PM
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I've ordered from Lauray twice now but I guess I'm not up to the challenge of nursing along baby plants. Blame it on impatience. I'm getting better but have lost a lot of small starts due to negligence.

GHW used to be fairly good. They would always get something wrong but made up for it by including freebies and bonuses (don't ask me what the difference is). This year they were the pits since it took nearly 3 months to receive my order and the plants weren't that great.

Kartuz turned out to be a very pleasant surprise this year. Within a week of ordering I had the full order which was boxed perfectly and well grown.


'Cracklin Rosie' is a treat. I've had it for a few years and thought I was going to lose it a couple of times. While not a bush yet, it is heading that way. GE, I did not know the parents were 'Silvermist' and 'Orange Rubra'. I have both of those and 'Silvermist' is a stunner. 'Orange Rubra' is okay but the blooms are quite orange.

'Caravan' is another great begonia - definitely not a cane. Fuzzy leafed like listada and I suppose serlis (I don't have that one and lost listada this past winter). Serlis and 'Caravan' do look a lot alike. You can get a great 'Caravan' from Logees.

On another note, what are your likes and dislikes on packing from some of the vendors? For instance, I hate all the tape. You almost need a knife or scissors to get through some of the tape. Others like to tape the pot to the box - talk about making it difficult.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 8:10PM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

Boy, all the tape is SUCH a chore! On the other hand--and there's always another hand!--the ones with all the pesky tape are usually the ones that come through without any broken plants. Got an order fairly recently that was packed quite well, seemed like, but had leaves and stems broken off (which means I get extra plants! I always at least try, and usually succeed, to root the things that break off.) And another order close to the same time--not because I ordered them that way--was all taped up and practically nothing was broken. So I try to be patient and careful when I just want to rip into 'em!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 10:35PM
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I just got some orders from Logees, Robs, and Plants for Kids last week. Robs is the most thorough using tape, staples, plastic wrap, fiberglass, paper, rubberbands, and probably a couple of other materials. Plants for Kids uses sphagnum moss, tape, and an outer cover for each plant. Logees has some paper wrap and maybe a barrier around each pot. They all came out fine - it's just a lot more work taking everything apart from Robs.

I packed two suitcases from Miami last March using only plastic trash bags and some newspaper. I had one broken stem off of a 'Ginny' which I rooted in an aquarium (I recently gave it away but not before breaking the tops off and rooting an additional 4 plants).

I think the best thing to do is pack everything tightly even if that means putting in some extra paper or bubble wrap (or peanuts which are a hassle for the recipient) so nothing slips inside the box (or suitcases).

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 7:52PM
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