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from the Logee's growers

Begonia Bonsai Propagation at Logee’s

Begonia Richardsiana forms a bulbous trunk in a short time, is easy to grow and makes an attractive miniature-like tree. Its leaves are delicate and pointed with white flowers appearing from spring through fall.

Begonia Richardsiana
Begonia Richardsiana as a three-year old bonsai

Another plus for Richardsiana is its ability to thrive under dry conditions. I was in our propagation range the other day and caught up with Laurie, our Begonia grower. We propagate Begonia Richardsiana two ways at Logee’s. The first method is by cutting and the second method is by seed. Here is how we do leaf cutting propagation. Although this way is quicker for the begonia to take root, it takes longer to form the nice bulbous trunk.

 

Overgrown Richardsiana trays
Overgrown trays of Richardsiana
used for cuttings
Sheared for cuttings
Sheared for cuttings

Shearing the present crop has two purposes. First, we harvest cuttings for the next crop. Second, the crop underneath becomes a much healthier, fuller multi-branched specimen.

 

Pile of cuttings for propagation
Pile of cuttings for propagation
A Begonia cutting
Begonia cutting with
several leaf nodes

Choosing a cutting with more than one leaf nodes gives the cutting a greater chance for successful propagation.

 

Oasis tray
An oasis tray for the multi-node cutting

Stick the cutting in far enough to hold the cutting upright. The node is typically above the medium. Some varieties of plants that we propagate, the leaf node is planted below the soil or medium.

 

Laurie and Margaret
Begonia Grower, Laurie (on the right)
and assistant grower, Margaret
Twiddledee
Twiddledee,the variegated leaf,
grew in the same batch with
Richardsiana and gets weeded out

Sometimes, Twiddledee, another Begonia that we grow, shows itself in a flat of Richardsiana. Once the cuttings have roots, they get moved into a 2 1/2 inch pot.

Here is how we do propagation by seed:

 

Female Flower of Richardsiana
Female Flower of Richardsiana has
the extra flower flap
Male Flower of Richardsiana
Male Flower of Richardsiana has
two opposing leaf petals

The male and female flowers have to pollinate. This happens by air movement in the greenhouse. However, if you were doing this at home, you may have to brush your hand over the flowers every day to ensure pollination.

 

Seed pod
The seed pod grows out and down

Inside the seed pod are hundreds of small seeds, much like cayenne pepper. Simply put the seeds on a creased piece of paper to gather the seeds in a channel. Then sprinkle them in a seed tray.

 

Seed tray ready with potting soil
Seed tray ready with potting soil
for seeds from Begonia Richardsiana
Seed tray with Richardsiana plants
Seed tray with Richardsiana
plants ready to be separated
Bulbous roots
Notice the bulbous roots which
formed after only three-four weeks

Each one of these are separated and put into their own bonsai pot where they will grow for nearly a year before they are sold. When they are released, they will have nicely formed bulbous trunks.

 

Begonia Bench in our Propagation Greenhouse
Begonia Bench in our
Propagation Greenhouse

The Richardsiana begonias propagated from cuttings sold in 2 1/2 inch pots are released after 6-8 weeks. They make wonderful houseplants because they can tolerate extreme periods of dryness. However, if it is the bonsai-type look you are after, it will take 2-3 years to form a bonsai-type bulb from a cutting.

 

Begonia ‘Partita’
Begonia Partita is another favorite
semi-tuberous begonia that makes
an excellent bonsai

Begonia Partita is propagated the same way. The only difference is that Partita is a little more sprawling and spreading in habit and takes a little more attention for shaping

 

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