In winter, when it’s cold and your fingers and toes are freezing off, there’s nothing better than a cozy spot by the warm stove with a cup of hot cocoa. Begonias (Begonia) have an almost identical idea. It doesn’t have to be warm, depending on the species, but they definitely shouldn’t freeze. Below we have summarized for you how to successfully overwinter your begonias.
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Overwintering begonias – What is the process?
Overwintering is the process of ensuring that a plant survives the winter by protecting it from the cold and giving it the extra light it needs during the long, dark winter months. Ornamental plants, such as begonias, bloom throughout the summer, but the flowers die in cold weather. With proper care, begonias, usually treated as annuals, can be perennials and last many years of life.
Overwintering begonias – methods depending on species & conditions.
Begonias have a different growth habit depending on the species. There are upright, shrubby, climbing, clambering and hanging types of begonias that can be divided into these main groups.
- Stem begonias
- Tuberous begonias
- Begonia Rex hybrids
- Begonia Semperflorens hybrids
- Rhizome begonias
- Shrub begonias
- Winter flowering begonias
Depending on the specific conditions and type of begonia, you can use different methods for wintering.
Leave the plants in the garden in a warm climate.
This method depends greatly on your local climate. In warm climates where winter frosts are rare or non-existent, you can let the begonias go dormant on their own, allowing them to come back each year as annuals. The change of season usually forces dormancy, especially for tuberous varieties. If this happens, cut back any dead or wilted foliage and prune the plant down to the ground.
Bring potted plants indoors
If your begonias grow in pots, you can easily overwinter them by bringing them indoors. Try to bring the begonias indoors before the temperature drops below 15 degrees Celsius. The bushy varieties make excellent houseplants, provided they get enough light and humidity – maintaining humidity indoors is a helpful measure. It’s best to leave tuberous begonias dormant. You can also bring rhizome begonias, which grow best in pots, indoors to overwinter as houseplants. They will probably lose their foliage at first, but if you water them weekly and provide them with a good source of indirect sunlight, the begonias will usually show new growth within a few weeks.
Dig up the tubers
You can overwinter tuberous begonias by digging up the tubers, drying them and storing them over the cold season. For this to succeed, the tubers must be indoors before the first frost, preferably before temperatures outside drop below 15 degrees Celsius. Dig the tubers with a garden fork, as this will allow you to carefully clear out the surrounding soil without cutting into any part of the tuber. You can also carefully use a spade. It is advisable to leave at least 30 cm of space outside the plant. After you have safely removed the tuber from the soil, gently shake it to remove excess dirt. Allow the tubers to dry out in the dry air for a few days. Then place them in a cardboard box or paper bag and store them in a cool, dark, dry place over the winter.
Overwintering begonias – More tips
Overwintering begonias is relatively easy. However, if you follow some additional guidelines and gardening tips, you will increase your chances of preserving your begonias through the cold months:
- Overwinter tuberous begonias – Pack the tubers well. If you are storing the bulbs in a cardboard box or paper bag, pack them with peat moss, coconut fiber, sawdust, perlite, vermiculite or another lightweight, absorbent material that will keep them dry and separate them. You can pack several bulbs in one box this way.
- Transplant the plants one at a time. After the last frost, you can move your potted begonias outdoors in early spring. Place them in the shade and make sure they are protected from wind, rain and sharp temperature changes. After a few weeks of acclimation, you can then place them in their usual spot.
- Transplant the tubers. If you have preserved your tuberous begonias, you should wait until the soil temperature reaches 15 degrees Celsius before replanting them – a soil thermometer is very handy. You can also place the tubers in a shallow container with loose, well-drained potting soil as early as six to eight weeks before planting them out, and water lightly on a regular basis. They are susceptible to root rot. So make sure they are not in standing water at any time.
With what you can combine ice begonias (Begonia semperflorens) – tips & ideas can be found here !