Growing Begonia ‘Autumn Ember’ p.p.a.f.
(Begonia rhizomatous hybrid)
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
|Begonia ‘Autumn Ember’|
Begonias are some of the easiest plants to grow in containers in a home environment. Our newest hybrid, ‘Autumn Ember’ has taken the begonia world by storm with its brilliant orange leaves. This rhizomatous begonia hybrid is a cross between Begonia ‘Marmaduke’ and Begonia ‘Angel Glow.’ Selected out of a group of seedlings, ‘Autumn Ember’ shows the brightest orange coloring, especially when they are newly emerging as juvenile leaves. When grown with other begonias, ‘Autumn Ember’ literally glows in comparison and when seen from afar, the mass of orange leaves catches the attention of all who gaze upon it.
Medium-sized leaves spread by rhizomes and can be pinched to create a well-branched bushy form. The color intensity of the leaves depends on the amount of light. In the wintertime, we have noticed there is no green at all, and believe it is the quality of light at that time that turns the leaves orange. The older leaves will eventually fade and soften in color.
Pink flowers emerge and majestically rise above the foliage in the winter.
Some direct sunlight is needed for the brightest orange coloring. Lower light will make these begonias leggy and the leaf petioles will stretch and make the begonia unsightly.
With all begonias, it is best to dry them out between watering and even a little bit of wilt stress is beneficial for begonias. You can visually watch for the soil to become light in color when it’s dry to the touch or you can simply lift the pot and tell by the weight if water is needed. If the leaves start to wilt that is another sign that your begonia is in need of water.
Potting mix needs to be a porous, open mix. Standard peat-lite potting mix works well and it has perlite, vermiculite, limestone and gypsum. Look for a pH range of 5.8-6.2.
To get a full bushy specimen simply prune after flowering and during the summertime cut the rhizomes back if they are hanging out of the pot. All of these methods will create a full, bushy specimen.
Begonias need to be fed but only in their active growing season and then only moderate to light amounts of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer will make your begonia leggy.
There are very few insects that bother begonias. Begonias can get powdery mildew, which is a white powdery substance on the leaves. However, this cultivar is not as susceptible to powdery mildew. Root disease can be an issue in cooler weather. It is best to grow in clay pots and do not overwater to prevent root disease.
Treatment for Disease:
Powdery Mildew: If you happen to get powdery mildew, it is easy to treat. Simply, take one tablespoon of baking soda and a squirt of dishwashing detergent, mix well and then spray on the leaves. You could also use Neem oil and spray it on the leaves.
Begonias are some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow in a home environment. The texture of the leaves and the outstanding orange color of Begonia ‘Autumn Ember’ brings visual appeal to any indoor growing space.