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Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

Posted by mark4321 10a CA Sunset 16/17 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 1:11

Earlier I posted a question about Begonia dregei seedlings, which it turns out have leaves that are curiously spotted when young. I believe I've read that one variety keeps the spots but most do not. This Begonia species is notable in that it is considered "semi-tuberous" or caudex forming, and is thus a natural candidate for Bonsai.

I thought it would be worthwhile to show more pictures of this plant and the stages of growth, so I decided to start another thread.

I received my Begonia dregei as part of a trade, labeled with the name Begonia 'Richardsiana', which I understand is among several considered varieties of the species. I believe the plant originally comes from Select Seeds in CT. I don't know whether it was a seedling or a rooted cutting. I would probably vote for a rooted cutting.

When I received the plant last year it arrived already bearing a seedpod. I've given cuttings to a friend and I'm told it is easy to root. I've read it can also be propagated by leaf cuttings.

The plant has been outside continuously for roughly a year. Here's what the plant looks like now: floppy and in need of a bigger pot, mainly because it's top heavy. It's in bloom and has a new seedpod that appears to be almost mature (labeled). I gather the tendency of this species/variety to form seeds by self-pollination is high.

Begonia dregei mature, seed pod labeled photo Begoniadregeiwholeplantlabeled_zpsc7c0ce92.jpg

it does have a caudex, which I haven't tried to fully expose. The fact that it is not bigger, with more branches arising, leads me to think this is a rooted cutting. However if anyone has reason to think otherwise please speak up:

Begonia dregei caudex photo Begoniadregeibase_zpsbf09542c.jpg

The stem is swollen in odd places, making it strangely beautiful:

Begonia dregei  swollen stem photo Begoniadregeiswollenstems2_zps82896ed0.jpg

The plant arrived last year with a seedpod, which soon matured and produced a number of seeds. I didn't plant any for a long time, and gave some away. When I finally planted some this year I found that they germinated easily (on the surface of moist peat/perlite in a ziploc bag under a fluorescent light), after a couple weeks or so. Even though the seeds were tiny, the seedlings quickly produced larger leaves:

Begonia dregei young seedlings photo BegoniaRichardsianaBdregei_zps56921abd.jpg

And the seedlings grew quickly under lights, and I ended up transferring them to more pots and with fewer (ideally one) in each pot. I've already given a number away and lost a potfull to squirrels.

Here's what the seedlings that have been inside look like. Notice the spots on the leaves as well as all of the reddish coloration. These are potted individually:

Begonia dregei seedlings from inside photo Begoniadregeiseedlingsinside_zps93378b1b.jpg

Here's a closeup view of one of the seedlings so you can see the small caudex as well as how heavily branched it is:

Begonia dregei seedling photo BegoniadregeiseedlingAug25_zpsa14ef3c9.jpg

I did put some of the seedlings outside. This pot of about 10 seedlings survived the squirrels. Note how some of the newest growth is starting to become more mature in terms of shape and lack of spots. Also note that the coloration is mostly green, with less of the red pigmentation of those grown under lights:

Begonia dregei seedlings grown outside photo Begoniadregeiseedlingsoutside_zps54d8d803.jpg

Here are those seedlings seen from the side, so that you can see the small caudexes:

Begonia dregei seedlings caudexes photo Begoniadregeiseedlingscaudex_zps0df229fb.jpg

Finally, here's a seedling that has been living in a bright windowsill at my mom's. The newest leaves are transitioning to a mature form, and it already has buds.

Begonia dregei seedling in bud photo Begoniadregeiseedlingwithbuds_zps28451d93.jpg

So the "problem" that I alluded to in the title is that I already have more seedlings potted up than I can deal with, with about 10 more to be potted up, and more seeds to come if I catch this years pod(s) in time.

I really don't need more Begonias (or plants) at this point, although there are always a few things I'm looking for. I may see if I can relocate some of these locally--there's a plant society in a nearby town that sells plants that perhaps I could give some to. I will likely put some up for postage eventually--I just moved most of the indoor-growing plants outside. However if someone is sure they are looking for this plant or seeds for postage, feel free to contact me at any point.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

B. richardsiana is not a variety, it was formerly one of the 'valid' names for B. dregei which has surely been known by many names as different people thought they were the original discoverers. So, richardsiana should be the same as dregei. And there are many hybrids of this begonia. I have a page full of different leaf shapes this plant used to produce under different names.


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RE: Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

  • Posted by mark4321 10a CA Sunset 16/17 (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 13:01

I understand that a number of different "species" are now properly considered B. dregei. I used to have B. partita, which I think I probably got at Kartuz. Whether B. partita, richardsiana, etc. are all independent synonyms or whether they represent "varieties" is an argument for the taxonomists and botanists. However, there is precedent for the use of the term "Begonia dregei var. richardsiana" in a botanical garden's collection (link at bottom). The link to the photo at U. Connecticut seems to no longer work.

Whether or not the botanists consider this a variety or a synonym of dregei is not the point. The point is that there are several somewhat different looking plants that were originally given different names. Now all are considered Begonia dregei. I doubt many botanists would object to non-botanists simply calling these different "varieties" of the species.

Here is a link that might be useful: Database indicating use of


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RE: Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

  • Posted by mark4321 10a CA Sunset 16/17 (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 13:06

The link is supposed to say:

"Database indicating use of "Begonia dregei var. richardsiana""

I'll try again without the quotes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Database indicating use of Begonia dregei var. richardsiana


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RE: Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

  • Posted by mark4321 10a CA Sunset 16/17 (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 27, 13 at 13:23

Logee's has a great article about propagating this plant from seed and cuttings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Begonia Bonsai Propagation at Logee’s


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RE: Begonia dregei and the "problem" with growing from seed

About 10 years back the begonia society decided to follow the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. So, if nothing has changed since then, we have Begonia dregei 'Partita'; Begonia dregei 'Suffruticosa'; and Begonia dregei 'Suffruticosa Bolusii'. Also one from Scotland, Begonia dregei 'Glasgow', I've never seen the latter but there is a good photo on the Astrobranch site.


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