The National Begonia Society



Last month I finished my diary by covering final potting and explained the relationship between that and stopping dates. This month I do not intend to cover stopping dates (time that it takes from a bud measuring approximately one and one eighth of an inch across the oyster to reaching full size) as these can vary immensely depending on location and temperature but I will explain the process of securing the bud. Before we do anything, we must be satisfied that the plant has reached a stage in its development whereby it is capable of producing a quality bud(s).  As a grower it is important that we are able to recognise when it reaches this stage but unfortunately this knowledge only comes with experience, however, as a “rough guide” most plants reach this stage after the production of the third bud. There are always exceptions to the rule and some are not ready until at least the fifth or sixth bud producing what is known as foliar petals on previous buds. Some perform better with two buds left on the plant as the second bud can assist in the removal of some of the inherent coarseness of the bloom or simply that the plant is strong enough to produce two quality blooms at the same time. Notwithstanding this an earlier or later bud can still produce an excellent bloom provided that the plant is growing well.

Stopping a plant/Securing the bud
Before stopping and securing a bud(s) you must first make the decision as to whether or not you want the plant to flower naturally by continuing to produce flower or if you want to restrict the flowering period in order to obtain superior flowers over a much shorter time frame.  If you chose the first option then no action is required, however if the latter is chosen,
in order that a bloom or blooms on a plant can reach its/their full potential the grower must remove the growing point or points of the plant. By stopping the plant all of it’s energy will be channelled into the production of a restricted number of blooms and in theory the fewer the number of blooms the larger and deeper they will be.
If for example we look at a plant grown as a single stem then this is possibly the easiest to use as an example although multiple stems can be treated in the same manner. Stopping the plant is achieved by either removing the growing point immediately above the selected bud(s) or alternatively immediately above the first leaf above the bud(s). If the former method is used then the bloom stem will become the main stem of the plant and if you are growing a single stem plant with one bloom you will have no option but to secure the bloom to the cane as the stirrup of the bloom support will be too small to be of any use.
On removal of the growing point you should now be left with two bracts from which a developing bud is emerging (male bud) and for the purposes of timing it should measure approximately one and one eighth of an inch across the oyster. The further that this bud emerges from the bracts the more it will become apparent that it is flanked on either side by a smaller bud (usually female). Both the bracts and side buds are not required and in the case of the bracts can be removed but in the case of the side buds must be removed, if left, they will be grown to the detriment of the main male bud. Personally, I remove the bracts and side buds at the same time as I stop the plant but I would not recommend that you do this until you are super confident as, in order to achieve this, you have to peel back the bracts, locate the two smaller buds, remove them and complete all of this without causing any damage or bruising to the male bud. If by accident you damage the bud or heaven forbid knock the bud off then you will be unable to recover the situation (they cannot be glued back into position).

Feeding the plant and bud.
With the exception of a half strength feed of calcium nitrate my single stem plants have not received any additional feeding. It is from this point through bud selection and up until the oyster is about to open that I tend to give them one full strength feed of a balanced fertiliser once per week. This can be given in one sitting or alternatively several sittings over that period. If the weather were to change and we were to experience high temperatures then I would consider changing to a balanced or high nitrogen feed. As the oyster starts to open, I simply change to a high potash feed again feeding full strength over the same period. I find that if you keep everything simple things are less likely to go wrong. For the purposes of showing cut blooms then ten days prior to the show date I would give one full strength feed of 0.10.10. in order to further harden the bloom. No further feeding is required. This has served me well, simple, but effective.

Time permitting, I will attempt to produce a second part to July’s diary covering the work as it is carried out on the pot plants leading up to and including securing the buds. Please remember that I am a total novice in this aspect of growing and I have no doubt that mistakes may be made.

Description of Photograph

01   General view of pot plants.
General view of cut bloom plants.
and 04  Views of individual cut bloom plants.
Closeup showing a bud with a lot of substance.
Single stem with side shoots (Apricot Delight)
Pot plant. Front Moira Callan- rear Tigger (three cutting tubers)
Same plant taken from the side showing position of coloured buds.
Pot plant of Sweet Dreams (two cutting tubers)
Pot plant of Charlotte (single adult tuber)
Pot plant Eva Grace (single cutting tuber)
Pot plant Tigger (single adult tuber)













Cultural Diaries and previous articles