What?? A Begonia for the sun??
Yes. It is true – we carry a fabulous sun tolerant Begonia series called ‘Solenia’ Begonias that grow well in the sun. These floriferous Begonias are available in a number of colors. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that these Begonias are sun tolerant – they are not intended for the blistering hot sun. They do best in a northeast, east, southeast and northwest sun exposure location. If they are placed in a hot south, southwest or direct west location they can get stressed from too much and burn.
It is best to grow Solenia Begonias in a sheltered area – their leaves are somewhat fragile and will get damaged or break in a windy area.
We will do a quick review of general hanging basket care using the acronym C-A-R-E and then we’ll take a look at Solenia Begonia hanging basket care specifically.
- This is about keeping a watchful eye on your hanging basket.
- Each day, do a general top to bottom overall check of your hanging basket – inspect leaf & flower health: any curling, wilting, spotted or yellowing leaves, and old or deformed flowers. Turn the leaves over to look underneath for bugs, they love hiding there.
- Solenia Begonias are very hardy plants when they are in their sweet spot. When they are growing in areas that stress them, like in the hot sun, you see problems arise.
- One thing to be very diligent about is to check for stem rot. If Solenia Begonias are kept too wet, their stems will rot at the soil level. You can tell this by a yellowish-brown color where the soil and stem touch. It will also be slimy at this area.
- This is all about watering.
- A good way to check hanging baskets for adequate hydration is to feel how heavy they are, lift them by pushing up on their bottom as they are hanging and check the weight. As you get more familiar with how heavy a fully watered hanging basket is, you will be able to tell when it’s time to water. If you happened to put your begonia basket in an upright container, you can dip your index finger deeply into the soil. If the soil is dry at about 1.5 inches, it’s time for a drink of water. When watering containers and hanging baskets, water thoroughly so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot. That is how you know you have watered effectively and that all the roots are bathed in a fresh drink of water. If you don’t let water flow out, salts from the fertilizer will accumulate causing the leaves and flowers to burn.
- Begonias die most often from being overwatered. Because Solenia Begonias live in sunny areas, their need for water is more than a shade Begonia but keep your eye on signs of overwatering. Depending on the weather, they may need to be watered gently every 2 or 3 days if it is hot but be sure to check the soil moisture or basket weight before you water.
- Water thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom as described above.
- This step is about fertilizing.
- The reason that replenishing nutrients is important for containers and hanging baskets is that there is a finite amount of nutrients held within the container soil and when the water drips out of the pots, some of those nutrients are lost. We recommend fertilizing weekly. Pick a regular day of the week, and make that your fertilizing day – make it an alarm on your phone. Our favorite fertilizer is called ‘Nature’s Best’. It is a natural fertilizer and we have found it to be easy to use, gentle on plants with no burning and we think it makes flowers brighter. ‘Miracle Grow’ is another good choice and other balanced fertilizers like 20-20-20 work well.
- Fertilize Solenia Begonias on a weekly basis.
- This is a maintenance step.
- Growth of plants is encouraged by taking off old flowers, known as deadheading, removing dead leaves, and pinching straggly, leggy plants back. Taking off old flowers is important because the ultimate purpose of flowers to produce seeds for reproduction. By taking off those dead flowers, the plant continues to flower. Old wilted and curled leaves actually take energy from the plant in an attempt to repair itself, but if they are removed, the plant can continue to focus its efforts on flowering. Plants can also get long and straggly looking – it’s ok to literally give them a haircut with scissors – it will make them branch, become bushy and thrive.
- Deadhead Solenia Begonias as flowers begin to dry. Remove dead flowers and seed pods by following the stems back to where it intersects with the larger stem and pinch it back at that point.
- Pinch stems back to encourage compact growth.
- If the Sun Begonia basket is a mixed basket, some of the trailing flowers may need to be deadheaded as well. If the vines get long, you can always cut them back with scissors to keep them stocky and strong.
Enjoy these baskets, they have tremendous color power and perform wonderfully with a little routine care.