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Last year I ordered some begonias Apricot shades from T&M they arrived as tubers, which although I followed the instructions nothing happened. This year I thought I'd cheat a little so ordered them as plug plants.
Please bear with me, as I have no gardening knowledge what so ever.
The plants have just arrived and are tiny, where as the tubers they sent last year where like new potato size.
How can these be the same plants?
It is possible that the plugs are grown from cuttings, rather than tubers. (or that they are cloned from cells) I believe (and begonias are not something I know much about) that it may be pretty easy to grow begonias from cuttings; or using the leaf method.
When your plants are growing well in the summer, you could try this; take a leaf, make a few incisions with a sharp knife, lay it on some moist gritty compost in a small pot, pin it down with dressmakers pins, place the pot in a clear polythene bag and leave for a week or two. In principle you should get several of the cuts in the leaves forming roots. And therefore...plants. If you have somewhere to keep them through the winter; a conservatory or frost free greenhouse or a south facing windowsill; you will have your plants for next summer; free. Though, one neighbour I believe digs up the tubers and keeps them somewhere dry and above freezing to plant in her troughs the following year.
T&M sell seeds of Apricot Shades Begonia, so presumably they grow the plug plants from seed too.
The tubers would form as the plant grew during the season, then the tuber can be kept from year to year, growing in size each season.
Some bedding plants are grown from seed and the tuber forms later and from cuttings as well. Like dahlias you can grow them from seed and the tuber forms later.
My new tubers from the Garden Centre have rotted off and I've no idea what I did wrong. I planted them up as instructed (very shallow) and kept them in the light but frost free. Am I just unlucky or was it too soon to plant them? What temp should they have been kept at?
I haven't started mine yet but they should have been ok. They just need warmth but not to wet just moist if they are to wet then they can rot. Another issue can be if the garden centre has had them too long if their dormant season has been too long this can increase the chances of them rotting. You could have been unlucky some of my customers I have left them in the ground or in pots and they come up the following year. I find you are better buying the plants grown and then saving the tuber yourself for the following year rather than actually buying tubers. But then it's each to their own other folks on here might tell you different.
Begonias of the single pendant type root fine for me in summer, and form new small tubers by the autumn. I have 10 or more of one variety, starting from just one plant a few years ago. I also get lots of very fine seed but not tried growing that. Chopping the tubers up works too but the cut surfaces have to be treated with fungicide and allowed to callous over to stop rotting.
Basically, from seed. The science and practice of plants is so varid and complicated. Seed sowing and production remains the most profitable. For nurseries to produce from cuttings is very expensive. Cell propagation involves laboratory conditions, once again expensive. Most of these methods are reserved for the more difficult species. To use such methods fro the common shall we say begonia. You might well be looking at a few pounds per corm!!!.
Thanks all for your replies - I thought you might of thought it was a silly question. Hopefully I if the plug plants grow I might be able to keep the tubers and not have to buy any more in the future.
Angela at 27 - you seem to have had the same problem as me last year which is why thought I would cheat and buy plants instead this year.
Watch out for Vine weevil grubs , they love to eat begonia tubers
Thanks Lorr - I was thinking of taking a leaf out of your book. There is just one of the three I bought still growing. The annoying thing is that the soil will probably be contaminated with the fungi spores and so I will have to throw the whole container full away.