Fragrant Begonias

Ispahan Zone6a ChicagoMay 26, 2011

Hello fellow fragrance buffs:

I would like to point your attention to the thread linked below from the Begonia Forum here on GW that talks about fragrant begonias.

I am growing two fragrant tuberhybrida begonias right now: 'John Smith' and 'Pink Scentiment'. While the 'Pink Scentiment' is still too small to flower, the 'John Smith' has an *unopened* bud which is exuding a strong and beautiful perfume like ripe sweet peaches/nectarines with an undertone of rose. It is truly wonderful and I can't wait to smell it once it opens fully.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fragrant Begonias thread...

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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

Your description of the scent sounds wonderful... :) Would love to see some pictures, too!!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 5:16PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Great thread, ispahan. Thanks for posting it. Something new and beautiful to explore.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 9:07PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

For those nutty enough to pay the price (like I am!) you can currently preorder John Smith Begonias from White Flower Farm for spring delivery.
Fragrance addiction can be quite expensive! ;)

-Robert

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Robert,

In spite of the price you will love 'John Smith'. It is a very elegant, refined begonia with a strong, wonderful fragrance. Mine was a very heavy bloomer and there was never a day during the entire growing season that it did not have a lovely open flower or several. I grew it in an 8" pot thinking it would be large enough but if I could do it over again, I would have put it in a 12-14" clay pot right away. The tuber could have easily handled it. And have a good staking system thought of and ready. You will need it, such is the size of the blooms that they will snap off from their own sheer weight if unsupported.

I was hoping to save my tuber, but unfortunately I lost it while moving this fall. The plant was stupidly left out in the baking sun for days with no water before I found it. Sigh.

For what it is worth, 'Pink Scentiment' was also a great begonia with a nice scent, but it was never as vigorous or as floriferous as 'John Smith'. B&L begonias really are special!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 2:03AM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi ispahan!

Thank you as always for the useful information. I had no idea that the flowers will need support so I'm grateful for the tip. To have a flower to sniff throughout the growing season sounds divine!
I'm sorry to hear that you lost yours. :(

-Robert

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 9:39AM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Robert,

I think you can find good instructions about staking tuberous begonias online, but basically you will need a good sturdy stake to tie the main stem to as well as several smaller stakes to support individual blossoms and/or bloom clusters. The begonia stakes sold by White Flower Farm are good for the latter purpose, and are very convenient, but they are too flimsy to support the main begonia stem. At the end of the season, the base of my 'John Smith' begonia stem was at least 3 inches in diameter!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 10:41AM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

Help me out guys.... How do I resist this temptation to buy a $50 begonoa bulb?

OK, srsly John Smith sounds like an awesome cultivatar but I'm not yet sold on the fragrance. How strong is it compared to Jasmine sambac? Just wondering if it will knock my socks off.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 3:53PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

I've never smelled John Smith before so I can't compare it to anything but I can say why I'm kooky enough to go for it.

1. I've agreed with many of ispahan's scent descriptions in the past so I think we have similar tastes.

2. I wanted a shade plant which is fragrant (most of mine are sun hogs and something under the arbor would be nice).

3. The sheer novelty of a begonia that has a scent. I like to surprise my garden visitors.

4. It doesn't get too large and goes dormant in the winter so I don't have to worry about growing it inside in a sunny window during the winter.

I hope this explains why I forked out $63.95 (total with S&H) for a begonia tuber. :)

-Robert

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 11:46AM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Musaboro,

It is hard to compare the scent of 'John Smith' to Jasminum sambac. J. sambac has one of the unique scents of the plant world and not many flowers can compete with it in the scent department.

But 'John Smith' begonia is indeed fragrant. Will it waft like Jasminum sambac and fill up a room with its scent? Probably not, but the fragrance is very nice. For me, it often wafted several feet away from the plant and was strongest during the day, especially in sunlight. It has a nice fruity-floral quality to it and often reminded me of a mix of ripe nectarines and roses.

I purchased it for many of the reasons Robert lists above, and I was not disappointed. If any of you are looking for a truly fragrant begonia with absolutely GORGEOUS flowers, then 'John Smith' is certainly the best way to go! :-)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 4:07PM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

Thanks ispahan and Robert for the replies. I won't be holding my breath for the price to go down and will dive on ahead for this begonia. The qualities of this plant as described is just too perfect (everblooming+fragrant+shade/houseplant) I guess it deserves the asking price.
Dar

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 9:30PM
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blutayle(z9aFL)

Many months ago Ispahan described John Smith and ever since I had to have this bulb...even though I am sure it will suffer in Florida and I will probably have to grow it indoors under lights to avoid rot and mold and fungus. I will be another one forking over an insane amount of money for one bulb...but I am a diehard when it comes to fragrance and the unexpected...count me in...here comes another order...better spent on something that I can enjoy rather then spending it on having my head examined...lol

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 4:54PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Tulip World (www.tulipworld.com) is now offering Pink Blush and Sunrise Scentiment begonias for a very reasonable price. I ordered a Sunrise Scentiment tuber for $15.88 with S&H (they're currently on sale). It should arrive in March.

-Robert

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 4:24PM
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