Begonias: seed, plants or tubers?

Begonias are amongst the most useful and the most spectacular of summer flowers but there’s one problem that ends up defeating many gardeners: the seeds. They’re tiny. An ounce contains about two million seeds (that’s about 60,000 seeds per gram) and, weight for weight, they’re worth more than gold.

Begonia 'Santa Cruz Sunset'And those tiny seeds are not easy to grow. It can be very difficult to sow them evenly (you can hardly see them, after all), and when they come up the new seedlings are also tiny and liable to collapse and die from damping off disease. So why bother, why not buy plants instead?

Well, first there’s the cost. You can buy 100 seeds of the ‘Bada Bing’ green-leaved fibrous begonia mix, or the ‘Bada Boom’ bronze-leaved mix, for £2.79 while forty seedling plugs of the just-as-good ‘Devil’s Delight’ mix of green and bronze leaved plants costs £10.95. And then some varieties, such as the splendid trailing ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’, are only available as seed.

But Mr. F are trying to help by making seed of some varieties, including super-sized ‘Dragon Wings’, available in pellets. That is, each seed is enclosed in a small biodegradable pellet that breaks up as soon as it gets wet. That makes the seeds much easier to sow.

Personally, unless the variety you’re looking for is only available as seed, I’d say try go for plugs or young plants as Begonia 'Lovebirds'they’re just so much easier to look after. And some of the best begonias of all, such as the lovely trailing pink ‘Lovebirds’, are raised from cuttings so are only available as plants.

Also, I have to mention that a small number of varieties are available as dry tubers. These are easiest of all to handle, of course, and least likely to suffer problems. Forty standard plugs of ‘Non-Stop Mixed’ begonias will cost you £14.95, 20 large plugs of ‘Non Stop Mixed’ begonias will cost you £13.95, while five tubers of ‘Non Stop Mixed’ begonias will set you back £8.95. All will give you a magnificent summer display – take your choice.

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