Charles Valin, T&M's Head of Plant Breeding tells us all about begonias....
For a great display of colour throughout a typical British summer, you simply can’t beat the performance of begonias! They belong to one of the largest plant families, with more than 1,500 named species, coming from all over the world.
Surprisingly, most species easily cross with each other, even when they come from such distant
places as Brazil and Yemen. This unusual characteristic has been exploited by breeders to raise countless hybrids. Here is a pick of the best we selected for you.
For planting in beds and window boxes, even
in full sun, our choice is Begonia ‘Organdy’ mixed. You will be amazed by its willingness to bloom whatever the weather; after all it belongs to the so called ‘semperflorens’ species of begonias!
It is amazing to think those vigorous plants originally grew from tiny dust like seeds: 100,000 in one gram! Add its wonderful foliage shining from green to deep bronze, and start transforming your garden into a living kaleidoscope!
Most begonias come from exotic places, and their tropical appearance can wake up a shady corner in no time. Planted in baskets or Flower Pouches™, Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’ radiates warmth and will bring sunshine to your garden even on the dullest day! Its performance is simply amazing; it just flowers and flowers and flowers! The trailing stems are packed full of flaming blooms and if you plant just one cascading Begonia, this should be it!
But begonias are so versatile gardeners just have to try a variety of them. One recent development is fragrance. Thompson & Morgan introduced the first ever fragrant Begonia, ‘Aromantics’®. It was developed after years of breeding in Belgium, and you can now enjoy the scent ranging from citrus to spicy and even strong rose fragrance. You can plant the tubers in moist compost in February/March and grow them on in a warm place until they are big enough to go in their final position, why not try them in a basket? Cut flowers in pastel shades can also be floated on water in a bowl and brought indoors for an original table arrangement!
Equally worth trying for its exquisite beauty is Begonia ‘Giant Picotee Mixed’: the huge, perfectly double flowers look as if each petal edge has been painted with lipstick. This make-up is certainly adequate for the exhibition quality blooms. The picotee colour pattern is difficult to stabilise genetically, so this is definitely a breeding achievement. The bicolour effect also looks stunning in pots on a patio.
Another twist has been added to begonias by German hybridisers: ‘Non-Stop Mocca’ has mysterious, dark, velvety leaves contrasting wonderfully with brightly coloured double flowers. It is the ultimate trend in begonia fashion, for a quirky looking container,there is nothing better than espresso coloured leaves!
If you are after something truly spectacular, try out ‘Inferno’™: this is the most vigorous, floriferous cascading single begonia we have ever seen. Just a few weeks from planting,
the fiery red flowers will transform baskets,
Flower Pouches™ and any support into flowing lava right out of a volcano! And it is self cleaning; new flowers just keep coming to replace old blooms for a continuous spectacle of dancing flames through to late autumn!
The latest breakthrough in begonia breeding has been to combine the trailing habit of cascading types with the fragrance of ‘Aromantics’®. This is now achieved with new ‘Fragrant Fountains’™! You just need to plant them in window boxes, hanging baskets and Flower Pouches™, relax, and enjoy their fragrance right at nose level! Imagine sitting in your garden or passing by, the perfumes of lemon, rose or spices wafting in the air will simply leave you smiling in delight.
Diverse, elegant, exotic, fragrant and beautiful, begonias have it all. And this showcase of varieties can be trusted for performance, whatever the weather. Watch out for more extraordinary novelties coming out in the future, begonias can still surprise us.
Hanging Basket Recipe