This is the familiar, dominant form, of U514/plant7.
My garden U514 does not love winter, and drops some leaves. But so long as good light, some morning sun, is provided, it comes back strong, growing with vigor when days lengthen.
Because B. engleri is Highly susceptible to powdery mildew in spring and fall, the ability to make stem cutting "backups" is important.
I have tried, unsuccessfully, two or three times, in Sphagnum moss and in perlite to root engleri stem cuttings. The tender, soft, stem cuttings quickly turned to mush. I suspect it might go better in a warm greenhouse, as opposed to a high humidity terrarium.
I repotted my engleri a couple weeks ago, and knocked off a stem segment, which motivated another akadama experiment.
I used akadama, with a bit of pumice as the medium. I used a 16 once plastic cup, as a pot, because it was easy to pierce the cup with a heated skewer. I added a dozen holes to the cup, around the Akadama, to increase available oxygen in the root zone. And finally, I placed the potted cutting in a two gallon hocking jar. I left the lid just slightly open. The hocking jar was placed near, but not under, lights. Weather has been warn recently. High 70's, low 80's.
I think I may not have fully hydrated the akadama, as after a week I saw its color lightening, so I poured some distilled water into the cup. Excess drained off. Starting with less than fully wet akadama may have been helpful. ALWAYS rinse akadama well before using.
For several days, I have seen roots above the akadama. Today, I gently poured the akadama away from the stem cutting. I was delighted by the results shown in the photo, above. Now, I have an engleri to share in San Antonio :-)
An akadama leaf cutting was started at the same time as the stem cutting with about 1/2 inch of the two inch petiole submerged in a 50/50 mix of akadama and perlite, not too wet. Today, at the base of the petiole, with a bit of digging, four thick, clear white, roots are visible, each an inch or two long. So far, so good.
B. metachroa is a vigorously growing Brazilian species. It quickly forms ja crowded mass which, when divided, reveals that new leaves emerge from thin upright rhizomes primarily consisting of the bases of alternating leaves.
I divide my metachroas once or twice a year, to avoid overcrowding and to share. I confess that sometimes I stick these divisions wherever I can find room. This afternoon I was reminded that metachroa is very much most lovely beneath low light.
I find that this species loses its best color if medium pH drops too low. I provide a balanced nutrient mix when I set up the terrarium, and allow the medium to dry slightly before adding back some distilled water.
U514 sometimes grows green. I now know that U514's going green is neither unusual, nor arising from a "sport" mutation. Rather, this, doubtless, recessive trait is part of the species' genetic portmanteau.
This tickles me.
Please note "plant7" on the "PhytoImages.siu.edu website under images, phylogeny, nomenclature for Begonia (Begoniaceae). The two U514 photos above are from that site. The website states that Plant7 is an unidentified Philippine species. When viewing individual photos on that website, GPS location and other pertinent information is provided. Plant7 is known to us as U514
My "Unknown Costa Rica Species" has begun blooming. I cannot wait for the male flowers to open, so that I can make seed and verify, hopefully, its species status.
I have found most of my garden species to be protogynous, the female flowers open before the males, sometimes with very little overlap. Perhaps this is more common in New World species? I am sometimes moved to sadness, seeing unpollinated female flower drop to the ground for lack of male flowers. This was often the case, this year, for strigillosa, and U503. Fortunately, a few males emerged, and I now have a few strigillosa seed pods maturing. And a second, mixed gender, strigillosa bloom has now begun.
For seed and pollen gathering in the garden, I am trying to keep on hand (I really have to) envelopes and a pen so that I will keep safe, and write down a name for, any seed pods or male flowers I collect. I confess that more than once I have gone inside with seed pods, sometimes of more than one species, and/or male flowers for storage, only to realize I can't recall which is what. I hate it when that happens ;^)
A small B. gardneri cutting, rooted in Akadama. Gardneri is a thick stemmed species from Brazil that grows up to four feet tall. It does best if it never gets completely dry. We grow it in the garden. I will be carrying this, and several garderni larger cuttings, with me to San Antonio.
There is excess water visible here because I watered heavily so that I could easy slide the cutting out of its pot without damaging roots. A nice thing about Akadama is that it is hard to over water. Excess water just drains off.
The size of the Akadama pieces is visible. This is soft Akadama.
This cutting is about 3 weeks old. I used a bit of rooting hormone. I rooted this in a seedling pot, in a a mini hocking jar for a little extra humidity. It was about an inch taller than the cutting. I left the lid off, and placed the hocking jar on a plant stand in front of a west facing window. I left the lid off because I find thick stemmed species to be a bit prone to rot when rooting, and I didn't want things remaining too damp. With the stronger sun of warmer months, a sheer curtain now attenuates afternoon sunlight.
One priority in refreshing this terrarium was making space for Begonia melanobullata, a limestone species from Vietnam.
Darrin Norton, of MountainOrchids.com, sent me this well grown beauty. Thank you, Darri! (Darrin currently has melanobullata "on sale" ;^)
Several of you my be growing B. lukuana, under the name taiwaniana. Mildred Thompson received lukuana from Taiwan, labeled taiwaniana. That plant's progeny has, since that time, been widely distributed under that name. I received my plant as B. taiwaniana. However a quick measurement of my plant's leaves, at 23 cm long, made it clear they exceeded taiwaniana's leaf length size which are 6.5 cm to 14.5 cm long, as reported by Mark Tebbitt's Begonias:Cultivation, Identification,and Natural History, an invaluable resource, at page 222.
B. lukuana's leaves are 9–33 × 5–14 cm in size. See page 184, Begoniaceae, attached.
Leaf size measurements of young plants, and plants dwarfed due to space limitations may yield confusing results. My plant is about two feet tall.
New roots grow readily from knobby nodes.
Another Beauty Begonia received from MountainOrchids.com. Thank you So Much, Darrin!
Description for his website:
"Begonia ningmingensis is a showy 'new' species, described as being from China. However, this example was apparently collected in Vietnam and I've been told that it shares a habitat/region along with the Slipper Orchid: Paphiopedilum emersonii.
As it is fairly new to cultivation, my growing experience with it is somewhat limited. So far, however, it has responded well to terrarium type culture. I also suspect it will adapt to being out of a terrarium - although the humidity shouldn't be too low (greenhouse?). Like so many of these cliff/crevice dwelling species, great care should be exercised to not overwater.
The foliage of this species is generally a deep black-green with a lime-silver (maculation) bands centered along the veining. Typical B. ningmingensis var ningmingensis is cited to be from Guangxi Region, China, but since the border of western Vietnam and this region of China are adjacent, it's quite likely that this is a case of it being another locality in the natural range for the species. Or, it may be something closely related, such as a form of B. semiparietalis (also Guangxi Region, China)?"
B. lubbersii, a species that roots easily, also did well in Akadama.
Akadama as propagation medium.
Following the counsel and example of several S. E. Asian friends and growers, I have been experimenting with Akadama as a propagation medium. Akadama is a baked Japanese clay often used as a component in bonsai soils.
To root this guadensis cutting, I applied some rooting hormone (Bontone II, .1% indole-3-butyric acid) to the bottom one inch of the cutting. I rinsed enough Akadama to fill about 3 inches of a clear 12 ounce plastic cup. I put holes in the bottom of the cup with a flame heated skewer, then added in the Akadama. After making an appropriately sized hole for the cutting, I "planted it" in the cup. The cup provided support for cutting, which is about 8 inches tall. I then placed cup and plant in a free corner of a terrarium.
Two weeks later... I am pleased.
The "burgundy" form of B. burkillii does not require terrarium
conditions. I use terrariums for leaf cuttings, and sometimes the new plant gets to remain in the terrarium. I confess that I sometimes allow these burkilli to remain in a terrarium longer than necessary because the leaves are especially beautiful under high humidity conditions.
The leaf section touching the side of the terrarium is not damaged. That is just the 'extra' iridescence of a side view.
I am not sure U632 ever stops blooming. I am confident U632 would do well in a greenhouse, though I don't know its tolerance to heat or colder weather. And, it may well be that U632 doesn't require anything beyond normal household "standard" conditions.
I once thought nigritarum a terrarium species. But I have since found it to thrive, both in the sun room and in the garden.U632 is a vigorous species, collected by Mary Sizemore, a great explorer and collector of new Begonia species. B. sizemoreae takes her name.
U632 is the same species as U185. U632 sends out runners much like strawberry plants, which take root at nodes, quickly giving rise to a new plants. U074 is a species with a similar spreading habit. I could not capture all of the U632 spread in this photo.
Last year, Laura L. gifted me with one of her talented husband's handcrafted creations, a baked/hardened clay "pipe." It is perfect for growing Begonia maurandiae, a high humidity species that many of us have known as U560.
Fishing line holds long fiber New Zealand Sphagnum moss in place. B. maurandiae, a trailing/scandent species, is only happy if it has a place to grow and spread. Occasional trimming can keep it in bounds.
When transplanting, care must be given to keeping stems and leaves above the medium. Although most begonias will root from partially buried stems, in my experience B. maurandiae just rots. I have had best success with cuttings of two or three nodes, placed on top of fairly moist, sterile medium, in a sealed terrarium under medium light levels. I keep an eye out for rot. If I see leaves rotting, I slightly open the container to lower humidity.
I have often read of B. maurandiae "collapsing." This is frequently associated with a warning not to the wet the leaves. My growing method allows me to water, and fertilize, my plant as needed, without worry that I will injure my plant. Excess water is pulled away by gravity. Also, I leave my terrarium lids slightly ajar to avoid condensation on leaves (and botrytis). So my leaves don't remain wet after watering.
Thank you, again, Laura!
Some of you may know B. caobangensis as U555. Some time ago, I noticed that a leaf on my plant formed a cup.
The bright spot at the deepest point of the leaf "cup", just right of center, is where the petiole attaches, thus forming a peltate leaf where none should be present.
You can learn more about this newly named species (2015) in "Six new species of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from limestone areas in Northern Vietnam."
I would like to pass on an unusual observation I've made regarding maturing B. rex seed pods. This morning I found a green, still fleshy, B. rex seed pod had begun to rot. Not the best auspicious beginning for a story, right? Only a small outer layer had begun to peal back, becoming soft. But, that would only spread. I felt rather frustrated because I have tried to keep humidity from going too high in that 120 gallon tank, knowing that high humidity is often hazardous to maturing seed pods, and condensation remaining on seed pods frequently 'terminal'. Seed pods are, after all, a highly concentrated nutrient source. It is not, therefore, surprising what various fungi, which need a moist environment to reproduce, might find them a tasty morsel. My efforts to moderate humidity included leaving the lids at both ends of the tank slightly open. And even occasionally running a variable speed PC type fan in the terrarium. Yet, I was looking at a rotting seed pod, a seed pod I had looked at with hope for six or seven weeks. And now, just compost. Or maybe, just possibly, not.
A week ago, I found another B. rex seed pod in the same condition. (I may have said a bad word.) As I reached in to remove that potential fungal incubator, planning to throw the rotting pod away, I noticed that that the peduncle (a stalk bearing a flower or seedpod/fruit) was also rotted. Hmmm. When the peduncle dries this is an indicator a seed pod it ripe for picking. So, maybe, since it rotted, which is kind of like drying out, (bear with me) in that the peduncle gives up the ghost. I know it's a stretch. But maybe this meant the pod was ripe. Well, clearly if I let the rot continue, it will be compost. (I suspect that B. rex, in it native lands, flowers during a drier, less humid season). So, I placed the seed pod in a mini Tupperware container, adding in two dessicant (drying) packets, to stop the rot. Think "mummification".
I buy those packets online, adding one to all my pollen saving bottles. Before closing the bag containing my unused dessicant packets (they are often called sachets), I always suck all the air out to keep them fresh.
Seeing the dessicant packets swollen from the humidity they had captured, I replaced them every couple of days with fresh packets. In a pinch, one can use the dessicant tabs included in some pill bottles to keep the medication dry.
Seeing, this second, rotting, seed pod, I decided this would be a very good time to if the first seed pod for completely dry, and whether it contained any good seed. There might be a few good seed, after all.
And guess what? All the seeds look good. Hurrah!! They will be available from the ABS Seed fund..
If you would like to look at your seeds under a "high tech" microscope like the one I used to take this photo, search for "mini microscope x60" on EBay or Amazon. Plan on spending about $5.
I have a special affection for African species. And B. engleri, section Rostrobegonia, has been a source of both attraction and frustration, if not guilt.
During warm weather, so long as the medium is airy (extra perlite) and dries out between waterings and engleri is protected from full sun (this is a shade species), things tend to go fairly well. Mostly. OK, sometimes.
But during cool weather, I have found engleri, covered with short, bristled hair, is very much prone to powery mildew and rot.
This winter, engleri is being pampered, growing, a bit to the side, in my propagation space which is illuminated by two 4ft 54 watt T5 bulbs that run 24/7. The engleri's medium is 50% perlite. Watering (with dilute urea free fertilizer) is every two or three days. All this may not be practical for everyone. But, so far so good. (I hope to make seed).
In prior years, my gardneri have little, or no overlap, in the presence of female and male flowers. Males form, and fall, first. We may see here evidence of a phenomenon that I have read about on occasion: A plant that has been "sexually frustrated" in prior years may "relax his/er standards, and allow more overlap in the flowering times of male and female flowers.
If you can't get a date, it's good to be monoecious, where all the parts needed to make a baby (girl parts and boy parts) are found in a single location (plant). As opposed to dioecious, where it really does take two to make merry
I've had to move B. engleri to a bigger pot as she tended to tip over. My initial decision to go with an extra airy medium (about 1/2 perlite and pumice) was validated by great dense mass of healthy blond roots. Though watering is necessarily more frequent.
She out grew her winter home beside the propagation area a few weeks ago. Although I switched her to a low Nitrogen, high phosphorus "Bloom" fertilizer, at that time, rather rapid growth persists.
Can someone sharing their experience regarding this species' flowering? I'd love to make seed.
This little B. imperialis, grown from a leaf cutting, is a bit 'different'...