The National Begonia Society


July part 2

I have just come out of the greenhouse having completed some work on the pot plants and have decided that now would be as good a time as any to have a recap and to see exactly where I am with this experiment.

Firstly, I wanted to encourage the NBS to make it easier for everyone to show pot plants without any form of barrier on the number of tubers allowed to be grown in a pot or for that matter the number of cultivars in a pot. In addition, I wanted to establish if by growing in this manner it would lead to less wastage as I am led to believe that the average pot plant grower growing for show, starts each season by growing a much larger number of plants than required knowing that a percentage will not make the grade for one reason or another.  Also, by allowing the grower to produce pot plants in this manner they would no longer have to wait until they grew or acquired large tubers.

Secondly, I wanted to see if rather than having the blooms predominantly at the top of the plant if it was possible to have a tiered effect with the blooms starting above the pot and continuing upwards to the top of the foliage.

Thirdly, I wanted to see if less structural supports would be required due to the structure now emanating from single main stems rather than a number of basal stems from a single tuber. I was also interested to see if by growing in this manner the blooms produced would resemble cut bloom flowers in appearance rather than the existing pot plant blooms which tend to be of a slightly lesser size and depth.

Lastly, I wanted to see if there was a significant difference between a pot plant   grown from two basal shoots than one from three or more basal shoots.

If you have been following my progress you will be aware of the steps taken to reach the stage that I am with the plants and I am pleased to say that I have not experienced any losses so all is going quite well in that respect. As a precaution I have now placed a cane behind each of the basal stems as I anticipate that the weight carried by them when the plant is in full bloom will be significant. I have also obtained a number of much larger pots and have placed the existing 7.5 litre pots within and that should help with future stability. The buds have more or less formed where I wanted them and are generally tiered in appearance.  I do not want to tempt fate but things are looking quite promising at this moment in time.

I am a great believer that if at all possible, learn from those with greater knowledge than you and in doing so you should be able to shortcut the theory side of things and the practical side will come with experience. It never fails to amaze me when listening to a speaker how few questions are asked by the audience. Then at the next meeting members of that audience can be heard saying “I tried it but it didn’t work, there must be secrets”. Had they asked questions of the speaker in order to clarify a particular point then they would have been able to achieve what they set out to do, and in the process found that there were no secrets. In addition, make use of the NBS database as there is a wealth of knowledge stored within.

Enough rambling and back to growing pot plants, what do I need to do next? Good question, do not really know, research NBS database (John Hamilton’s diary 2018) no better place to start.  Now back on track with the basics and ready to move forward. I am happy with the foliage on the pot plants and prior to reading John’s diary I was going to start to introduce a slightly higher potash feed but now think that I will delay it slightly and stick with a balanced feed for the time being.  On examination of the plants I am of the opinion that they are now ready for bud selection and this is where the fun will start. I now have to look at the plant as a whole and decide which buds I want to choose and which I want to discard (remove).  I want sufficient in number to give a good covering but not so many that they become overcrowded and possibly not reach their full potential.  In addition, where I have two different cultivars in a single pot, I want the front plant if possible, to cover the front lower area with the remaining cultivar covering the sides and top. Having now chosen the buds, I have at the same time removed the side buds and all growing points so there is now no going back.  I will have to live with the outcome.

Up until last month I would say that as far as growing pot plants compared to cut bloom plants was concerned that there was really no difference in respect of management. Now the work has escalated in relation to the pot plants and I would have to admit that growing 12 plants is more than enough for me. I now see that there is much more work involved in the growing of show quality pot plants than meets the eye. The pot plants want to take over the whole of the right-hand side of the greenhouse but I was determined not to let this happen, however, I have now been talked into giving them the space that they require (Ronnie Welsh was giving me grief). It is a strange old world that we live in, I have had visitations from both north and south of the border and most have commented on the quality of the foliage of the pot plants. Having got it to the stage that I am happy I have now spent several hours removing what feels like more than fifty percent of the leaves in order that the buds are allowed the space to grow and come to the front without obstruction. The plants now look dreadful but I am sure that in several days they will recover and look mighty fine (fingers crossed).

I now feel that I am able to give an opinion on the number of stems best suited to growing the “forward facing” pot plant. If only one cultivar is to be used then two stems would be my preferred choice. The reasoning behind my thinking is that the buds when developing are only obscured by leaves which are easily removed whereas when a third stem is present then the chances are that all or part of it would obscure a number of blooms which had been formed on the rearmost stems. Some growers even go to the extent of removing the inner side shoots of the rear stems in order to prevent this occurring.  If two cultivars are being used then I would have two stems at the rear and one at the front. I would however stop the front stem at three leaves thereby reducing its terminal height (see photograph 04 below). I may also remove the inner sides shoots of the rear stems as I feel that they may not really serve much purpose. The above is only my opinion and is based solely on one growing season.  

I must now spend a little more time in my garden as we have the “small village in bloom” competition being judged during the early part of August and I had better be seen to do my part.

The enlarged photograph is of the plant shown in photograph 04 showing some more work carried out. Blooms now restricted to 20 in number in an attempt to obtain larger, deeper blooms. I am  of the assumption that the smaller the number of blooms the larger that they may be. You will also see that I am a bloom of Tigger short on the mid to lower right hand side of the plant. There is a smaller bloom still within the foliage but it is about 7 days behind the others.  Overall the plant is more or less what I was trying to achieve at this stage.

 Description of Photographs

      01   General view of pot plants taken on 3.7.19
   General view of pot plants taken on 16.7.19
03   Pot plant. Front Moira Callan- rear Tigger (three cutting tubers) taken on 3.7.19
   Same plant taken on 16.7.19
05   Pot plant of Sweet Dreams (two cutting tubers) taken on 3.7.19
   Same plant taken on 16.7.19
07   Pot plant of Charlotte (single adult tuber) taken on 3.7.19
   Same plant taken on 16.7.19
09   Pot plant Eva Grace (single cutting tuber) taken on 3.7.19
   Same plant taken on 16.7.19
   Pot plant Tigger (single adult tuber) taken on 3.7.19
   Same plant taken on 16.7.19













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