Starting Tuberous Begonias Under Lights

jimnoakDecember 7, 2006

If anyone has some advice, where can I buy the starts of some special begonias, and I'd appreciate knowing WHEN should I start them under lights so I can plant or pot them here in Southern Illinois next Spring?

In the past I just spend tons per year to buy these plants (if I can even find them) and in the past I haven't tried to overwinter them. Last year the squirrels got to them, but I've learned how to maybe defeat the squirrels next year.

In the catalogues I get and the websites I've found... I'm not seeing anyone who sells the hearts of these types of incredible begonias like I used to buy and dispose of. (duhh jim)

Next summer I'll build a greenhouse again, but for now I'd just like to get a head start on the begonias because wth shade conditions at my lake, they do better than anything except hostas.

curious and lost here in southern Illinois...


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ljrmiller(z7 NV)

You can get tuberous begonia seed from Antonelli Brothers in Santa Cruz. I figure the seed grows just like any other begonia seed I've tried so far--light and warmth (I use a heat mat and fluorescent grow lights). Antonelli's also has tubers ranging from really little kinda generic ones up to gigantic show begonias in quantities from 1 to gazillions.

I'm guessing that it would be good to start begonias from seed as soon as possible so they are big enough to set out when the temperatures warm. I started mine too late, and had to drag in all my little seedling pots to overwinter under grow lights. Hey--it's an adventure :-)

Stokes Seed has a whole range of tuberous begonia seed, and I don't think it's too expensive considering the quantity you get.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 7:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Antonelli Brothers have moved, I think they are in Watsonville Ca. now. Purchased seed from them several times. I had really good luck with germination, and got some very good exibition quality Begonias from the seed.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 1:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Glad I read this post. I have been looking for begonias and have now gone to the Antonelli website. Will be placing an order soon! If anyone is interested, this is their website:

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 8:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Here's a hint that worked for me last year:
The tuberous Begonia's I've grown from seed have formed very small tubers by the end of the first season, some smaller then my little fingernail. To make the tubers bigger last September I pinched out all the flowers and buds, and the growing tips the first part of September. Hard to do, but it really does help. I also gave them a dose of Potash, treated all my tubers this way and what a difference. Got this tip from the B.C. Fuchsia and Begonia Society's newsletter. The article was originally from the Canadian Begonia Society's September/October 2001 newsletter.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 1:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi..starting seed is quite doable. Growing them in So Ill may be a bit tricky. But that's another issue for now.

Yes lights..heat @ about 75. Be careful about too much bottom heat. Even a mini-heating pad/baged in plastic set on "low low" can be a bit too much. If you do use a heating pad for heat raise your germination container up an inch or two.

I suggest you use a plastic table grape or kiwi container. The have lids and vent holes (will keep the humidity high.)

Make sure you microwave the growing medium/use a fungicide for the initial watering and/or misting.

B seed is extra fine. I suggest you divide your seed into 3 or so portions (errors/stay under 100 seedlings.) Freeze the remaing seed in a air tight Glad sandwich pouch. It'll keep for years.

Use a playing card or evelope end to strike the mini-rows an inch apart. Your should have room or 6 or 7 4" rows a quarter inch deep is deep enough..use a pencil to very lightly cover the seed. The initial misting will carry the seed into the mix far enough.

Antonelli seed has a good reputation for germination. We just returned from NZ spent some time at Beautiful Begonias on Golden Bay (

They use Antonelli seed (have been for 10-15 yrs)..must have 2-4k seedlings which customers tag (see blooms)and get the tubers at season's end. They get 90% plus germination/speak highly of Antonelli seed.

Another excellent source is Blackmore & Langdon in the UK ( B & L are the gold standard for commercial exhibition quality tuberous begonias. They package their seed in a variety of packets..I'd suggestthe packet containing 6 named colors. Expect to pay $50 or so dollars when your done (seed, post, inspection.) The cost from Antonelli will be comparable (if not a bit more (

Germination should take from 7-20 days. Good two leaf seedlings in 6 weeks. Prick them out into a six pack...keep on sizing up as they grow.

Granted it would be perferable to seed in Feb or late Jan..but you should make mini-tubers even with an (early) April seeding -- and a bit of luck.

We lived east of Cobden for close to 40 years (farmed/gardened) while I taught @ SIUC. I found begonias took care I wasn't too good at providing. Here (west of Seattle) we have a micro climate that is great for begonias (and not hot enough for good tasting tomatoes.) So it goes.

Before I forget, find a copy of Mike Stevens' "Begonias" (

Good luck, Ted Buila

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 6:27PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Anyone have b.grandis bulbils for swap or SASE?
I would very much like to try these if anyone has a...
New to Begonias and wondering what I have
I was at the Philadelphia Flower show and couldn't...
Blackmore and Langdon Begonias from seed
I started B&L begonias from seed on Dec 15. Most...
Solomon Dang-Goldberg
Begonia started from seed BUT no tuber grown???
I started a couple of tuber Begonias from seed this...
Eyelash begonia
I was given a mini eyelash begonia yesterday. I have...
Sponsored Products
Taupe Gray Twist Floor Lamp
Lamps Plus
Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Light Blue/ Ivory Wool Rug (2'6 x 4')
Small Corner Stainless Steel Bathroom Sink By MaestroBath
Beauty of Silence Wall Light
Forestier | Mesh Cubic Small Pendant Light
Garnett Polished Nickel Three-Light Bath Fixture with Off-White Shades
$102.00 | Bellacor
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™