The National Begonia Society


Growers in the Spotlight - North & South of the Border

Michael Richardson


ROBERT NELSON  President, Scottish Begonia Society

Visited Sunday 12th. February  2017

Robert has a 12 x 8ft greenhouse that he uses as his main propagating greenhouse in which he has propagators running down either side of it.
Along the left hand side as per the picture to the right is what started off as a 10x3ft Two Wests & Elliott hotbox unit, on top of his Two Wests hotbox unit Robert has lifted the height of the unit by fitting a wooden edge to the top of the unit’s edge.
To finish the unit off he has built x3 hinged lids, each framed lid with a twin wall polycarbonate insulating panel, essentially turning into a propagating unit.
The base of the unit has a layer of polystyrene to help insulate the bottom of the unit and then he has filled it with sand whilst at the same time has sandwiched into the sand x2 heating cables that are controlled by x2 Parasene Thermostat control units as per the picture  to the left.
He then filled this unit with Levingtons M2 Pot & Bedding Compost and brought the temperature up to approx. 70°f before burying his tubers and leaving them to pip and root evenly all around the tuber.

As you can see by the picture on the right coming back down on the right had side of this greenhouse he has a 5 x 3ft Two West hotbox unit, again with his customised raised edge and lid turning it into another propagator unit.

He has filled this unit with Levingtons M2 Pot & Bedding Compost and again brings the temperature up to approx. 70°f before he buries his cutting tubers and leaves them to pip and root.
Then finishing off this side of the greenhouse he has a Two Wests propagating unit that he uses for putting and rooting his cuttings as you can see by the picture to the left.

Now Robert along with fellow grower Bob Robertson always try and grow some flowers to put on a Scottish Begonia Society stand at Gardening Scotland which is held at Ingleston on Friday 2nd  June to Sunday 4th June.
They do this for 2 reasons –
      1.       To recruit much needed new members to join the Scottish Begonia Society (just like all flower societies at present).
      2.       The “gardening Trade” are out in force at this show and there is a heavy public footfall who are looking to buy plants because it’s the right time of year to plant outside.
For this reason at the top of Roberts main 26 x 10ft greenhouse (left) he has an area approx. 6ft long which has been partitioned off from the rest of the greenhouse as per picture to the right.
His propagator to the left and right of this sectioned off area is used to try and get plants in flower to so they can be used at Gardening Scotland.

As shown in the picture to the left along the left hand side is a homemade propagator Unit at approx. 6ft x 3ft in length and width. He filled this Unit with Levingtons M2 Pot & Bedding Compost and brought the temperature up to approx. 70°f then has buried his tubers and leaves them to root and pip.
The tubers in this propagator unit were put in at the back end of December 2016.
At the left hand side of the door is another 4ft x 2ft Two Wests propagating unit containing more early plants and again his tubers were buried in M2 compost (see picture to the left).

Across the back of this greenhouse as shown in the picture to the right he has a Cambridge heating table that came with the greenhouse. At present he has just stood some trays of begonia Pear Drop and Non Stop Yellows on it.

Robert’s middle greenhouse is used to start some of his bedding begonias for example Flamboyants as per the picture to the left. Later in the year he will use this greenhouse to house his plants when they go into their first pot with a little heat.
Then he will grow on his “later” plants in this greenhouse for the later shows in the season as you can see in a previous years picture to the right.

His main greenhouse is used for flowering his main batch of plants usually for  Ayr Flower Show – however this year that will be Dundee Flower Show again as you can see in a previous years picture on left.

Additional growing techniques employed by Robert -

Cuttings – Robert takes his cuttings and puts them straight into one of his Two Wests propagating unit’s in his “propagating” greenhouse and he will leave them until they have rooted then will pot them up and stand them on one of his hotbox’s (having taken his home made lids off) to give them a little bottom heat to help ensure the plant is not “checked” during the transfer from propagator to pot.
1st Potting
– Robert pots up from his propagators to first pots using M2 Pot & Bedding Compost.
2nd / Final potting
– Robert uses a homemade John Innes No 2. 

Now an article from myself would not be complete with about a contentious issue – so here it is:

Growing on saucers – Robert also is an advocate of this growing procedure. 

I would like to thank Robert for allowing me to write this article.