begonia flowers hang downward out of baskets and will bring in
hummingbirds to feed.
looking for the perfect hanging-basket plant this spring and summer
will be thrilled with a new begonia series with parentage that goes
back to the Bolivian Andes Mountains where the first ones were
discovered in the 1800s.
speaking, they are known as Begonia boliviensis with the common name
Bolivian begonia. They have been a favorite of mine for about 10
years; I first started growing one called Bonfire and then one
slightly bell shaped called Bellfire. New this year in many parts of
the country will be the Bossa Nova series which has a perfect name for
a plant from South America.
begonias have presented challenges to gardeners in the hot, humid
South, but this species has proven to be a cakewalk even for the
novice. What you will notice is that they produce hundreds tubular
flowers; my favorites are still the selections that produce blooms
that are fiery orange.
The abundance of
flowers can take your breath away, but they also have attractive
foliage. The leaves on long, arching stems are deeply serrated and
most with margins giving a hint of red. To me the plants look lush and
tropical and perfect for the porch or patio where bananas are growing
them in full west sun in an old world style piece of clay pottery. The
success was beyond my wildest dreams. I would urge you to go with
morning sun and afternoon shade for the best performance and a look
that is sure to bring out the camera.
The habit of
this plant screams for it to be in a basket, window box or mixed
container. Assuming that this is what you have in mind select a
container large enough to let the plant achieve its full potential.
Choose a light potting mix sold by the cubic foot. Do not buy a brand
sold by the pound and almost too heavy to carry.
If you plant
yours in the landscape, work the soil properly to ensure good drainage
and aeration. If you have tight, heavy, compacted clay, you should
either work in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter like peat or compost to
help loosen the soil or plant in raised beds in a prepared landscape
will go dormant in the winter and in zones 7-10 may very well return
in May, provided the winter drainage was good. They have returned for
me in mixed containers with the arrival of warm spring weather. Very
little water, if any, will be needed during the dormant season. Those
of you in colder zones can either grow them as annuals or tuck your
basket or container in a frost free location.
They are fairly
drought-tolerant once established, but keep the soil moist during the
long bloom season to keep the flowers coming. Feed your plants once
dormancy breaks in late spring and then again in midsummer. In
containers, feed as recommended with controlled-release granules or
with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer.
lovers will rejoice because these baskets with their bounty of flowers
cascading downward are just the perfect delicacy to keep those ruby
throated visitors flying in to feed. The plants have the ability to be
stand alone in a monoculture basket or container and look dazzling. I
have also grown them in mixed containers with scaevola, SunPatiens,
creeping Jenny and Japanese sweet flag.
This spring when
you see Bossa Nova begonias or any of the other varieties of Begonia
boliviensis like Bonfire, Bellfire or Mandalay Mandarin for sale, take
advantage of the opportunity, they will be in demand