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Big Begonias

Posted by mark4321 10a CA Sunset 16/17 (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 1, 13 at 4:10

Perhaps this is a good thread to start on April 1st. I'm curious what experiences people have had with Begonias with huge leaves, or that get huge, or extremely tall. Or all of the above.

I noticed today that I've acquired a strange number of Begonias that would fit that description. I looked at my B. 'Paul Hernandez', which I suspect will soon grow a new leaf larger than anything I've seen. I suspect my already tall B. luxurians will grow a foot this month, and another next month, and...

All of this is in spite of the fact that I have a tiny, tiny yard.

I gathered a few of them together, with an in-ground B. luxurians (#1, 4 feet tall above the ground and not my strongest one) and a B. 'Paul Hernandez' (#2), in a 2 gallon pot, and "only" 2 1/2 tall above the soil. 'Paul Hernandez' also "lives" in this spot:

Big Begonias in a corner photo BigBegoniasnumberedminusGeneDaniels_zpscb25f828.jpg

B. 'Paul Hernandez' is B. luxurians x B. gehrtii (made by Patrick Worley) and I've read that it can get 8 ft. x 8 ft. Mine was bought in a 5 inch pot at Strybing for $8.

Besides those already "big" plants (in quotes because I suspect I will soon remember when they were small like this), I assembled a few others. I forgot one, B. 'Gene Daniels', which is a rooted cutting from my mom's plant.

Begonia 'Freddie' (#4). Started in October from a leaf of a friend's plant. San Marcos Growers says: "This plant has been known to grow leaves that are 3 feet around in Hawaii though typical growth in southern California is 18-24 inches". I'm in N. CA.

Begonia 'Red Fred' (#5). Bought from Pepper's/Accents for $5.95 in December. Said to be a sport of 'Freddie'. I'm not sure how big this is supposed to get, but I should have good conditions for it.

Begonia 'Rudy's luxurians'. A B. luxurians hybrid, from Rudy Ziesenhenne (who also made B. 'Freddie' and 'Gene Daniels'. There are reports online that this can reach 10 ft. or more. I bought my plant for $6 or $8 at Strybing Arboretum.

Begonia 'Gene Daniels'. I believe I've seen reports that this can get as tall as 8 ft. I bought my mom's plant at Annie's Annuals for $10

But here's the one that will become a monster the quickest: The Begonia luxurians that I have in a pot. I bought this (for $23, I think) in a ~2 gallon pot at DIG gardens in Santa Cruz CA. It split it up, and this is what's left. It was around 5 feet before collapsing or getting knocked down last year. I'm going to stake it this year. I'm betting it will hit 8 ft. Maybe it will be limited by the pot size, or another collapse. It's only 3 1/2 feet above the pot but extremely strong growing right now.

Begonia luxurians March 31 photo PottedBegonialuxurians_zpsdbbd0aa3.jpg

Perhaps it has roots in the ground. I haven't looked and I don't plan to move it.

I'm going to read the first photo in again using Gardenweb's upload. I think it's important to note that the only difference is that the first time is through Photobucket. They have some major problems and are really screwing up photos at the moment. I would encourage people to use Gardenweb's system instead of Photobucket where possible. If it's not obvious, compare the coloration of the B. luxurians leaves (which become grayish green in Photobucket) and the quality of the lettering, which was easily readable in the original.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Big Begonias

I meant to reread this photo in, but it got deleted. Again, Gardenweb's is not perfect, but at the moment it's superior to Photobucket.


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RE: Big Begonias

Try Lotusland for some of the biggest leaves ever. Other giants are nelumbiifolia (one in Miami's Fairchild Tropical gardens in the conservatory were probably 24 inches across), Selph's Mahogany, Maggie Nodal, Challenger (very large), parviflora (do a web search for it in Ecuador), popenoi, Red Umbo, and many more. Paul Hernandez does get very large. I've read that Mrs. Fred T. Scripps does too.

Another one I've seen on line but doesn't seem to be in the trade is baccata which is on some small island off the west coast of Africa (Sao Tome?) and if you can believe the review is a true giant among giants.


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RE: Big Begonias

  • Posted by mark4321 10a CA Sunset 16/17 (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 1, 13 at 17:30

Thanks for the list. Is Lotusland still difficult to get into? I remember hearing that it was a long wait to get in, but this was a number of years ago when I lived in L.A.

Another big one locally is Begonia fusca, shown growing at Strybing Arboretum (SF Botanical Garden). I don't remember exactly how tall the flower spike was (4 or 5 feet??), but it was impressive. This was in November, I think.


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RE: Big Begonias

I suppose it is still difficult to get into Lotusland. I was very lucky to get in with the convention group because they had a cutoff and I was one of the last to sign up.

I saw B. fusca when they held the convention in S.F. in 2010. It wasn't that impressive but then it was pretty chilly in mid August. Your picture of it is a lot bigger than what we saw that year.

You should see some of the begonias at Fairchild Gardens - nelumbiifolias that probably span 12 feet or more and not growing out of the ground but rather out of the stone wall.


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RE: Big Begonias

'Torsa' is still hard to come by, not sure why. This is a B. grandis hybrid, similar to that species but with much larger leaves. First photo taken with a flash--note the tape measure for scale. The largest leaf is 19 inches long and 14 inches wide.

Begonia 'Torsa' (flash)

Here's the same plant photographed in natural light, but without the tape measure (and at a crazy angle):

Begonia 'Torsa' (natural light)


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RE: Big Begonias

Nice John.

Here is Lotusland which was the biggest I've ever had.


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RE: Big Begonias

I just purchased 9and am waiting for it to arrive) B. nelumbiifolia. I just loved the idea of large leaves, although by looking at other posts in this forum it seems like that isn't going to happen right away (not that I expected it to). I'm guessing it needs a lot of space and the right conditions. I've always liked lotuses, nasturtiums, and begonias with leaves within that realm of shape. The idea of a large one is just so exciting.


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RE: Big Begonias

Here is my big one this year - popenoei.


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RE: Big Begonias

Wow! That is seriously impressive! How long did it take it to reach that size?


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RE: Big Begonias

I think two years. I bought it from Taylor's and they come in a small pot.


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