Posts Tagged ‘begonia’

Seeds or plugs? Part one

January 31st, 2020 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Geranium 'Paladium Mixed' grown from plugs is better value and easier than starting with seed.

There are two main reasons for buying plugs of annuals and patio plants that you could also raise from seed.

  1. Some seeds need sowing in winter to start flowering in early summer and you don’t have the facilities.
  2. The varieties available as plugs are better than the ones available as seed.

So this week I’ll discuss the first group and next week I’ll discuss the second…

Plants that need a long growing season to develop from seed sowing to flowering must be sown in January or February to give them enough time. If they don’t start flowering till August, half the summer is gone.

The problem is that in winter the days are short, temperatures and light levels are low and germinating and growing on seedlings on the windowsill, or even in the conservatory, is a lot trickier than bringing them on in a heated propagator in a greenhouse. And if they fail, it may be too late to order replacement plugs.

So if you can find varieties that do what you need them to do, I’d recommend buying begonias as plugs, calibrachoas as plugs and geraniums (zonal pelargoniums) as plugs. That way the nursery looks after the trickiest phase of their development – from germination to establishment as flourishing seedlings – so you don’t have to. You can take over for the easy part and it’s still more economical than buying garden-ready plants from the garden centre.

How about this: ten seeds of a mix of zonal pelargoniums will cost you £3.60. Four packets will cost you £14.40. Forty plugs of a better variety will cost you £13.95! And the cheaper plugs are already healthy seedlings! You see my point…

Begonia in a different style

May 10th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Begonia 'Gryphon'

We always tend to think of begonias as flowering plants – whether it’s the dramatic double-flowered types, the neat bedding types or the prolific basket varieties. But there are also varieties grown for their foliage and the star is one called ‘Gryphon’.

‘Gryphon’ makes a big plant, 40-45cm high and 45-50cm wide. Every large darkly metallic leaf is jaggedly divided into points and streaked in silver but the stems and undersides are completely different. Beneath each leaf the colour is orange-red and that vivid colouring peeps out whenever the leaves turn or are held at an angle or are ruffled by wind.

As a specimen in a container it makes a dramatic patio plant that’s happy in sun, if kept consistently moist, or in partial shade if watering is a little less regular. Once established, ‘Gryphon’ is unexpectedly drought-tolerant.

Three plants in a 45cm pot will develop into a bold specimen plant for the patio. Alternatively use ‘Gryphon’ towards the front of bold tropical-style plantings featuring cannas and dahlias to hide their bare basal stems.

‘Gryphon’ is also more cold tolerant than many begonias, it will take 5C outside but in the autumn it pays to wheel your pot into the conservatory where it will continue to look good right through the winter. So why not give this very different style of outdoor begonia a try?