A French botanist, named Michael Begon, Found a beautiful flower in Brazil during the 1600's, and carried it back to France. They finally came to the United States in 1880. Their scientific name, which every upstanding flower must have, is semperflorens, meaning ever blooming. We know them as Wax Begonias. They are one of more than 1300 species belonging in the Begonia genus. The first Begonia society was formed here in 1934. Do we have a Society here in Lee County? I do not know.
We have two kinds here, the wax Begonia that is a small bedding plant, and the larger and beautiful hanging basket type, the Tuberous Begonia. When you see a hanging basket cascading with Begonia blooms you will be impressed for sure.
The Tuberous plants, Begonia x tuber hybrids, have a lighter green leaf and come in a verity of colors. Their blooms are larger, and multi peteled. We purchased our last one at the Edison Estate plant sale area. It may be a little early for the tuberous plants this month.
The smaller, waxy leaved Begonias are great plants for our hot summers. They will tolerate morning sun, or dappled shade. The afternoon sun can be pretty hot, but you will see them in mass at hotels and gated communities, right out there in the blazing sun.
They come in several colors and will grow in a mounding shape, which looks good as an edgeding plant. A ring of Begonias around the birdbath or fountain are great.
They need moist and well-drained soil to be at their best. Plant them about 6 to 12 inches apart. They will mound up and spread out 6 or 8 inches. Some years they seem to get root rot. Planted so that they can spread out and with good drainage they should be fine.
The shiny waxy leaves may be green or a dark wine color, or even varagated, your choice.
You can plant seeds but it will take a long time to get anything big enough to transplant. You can do some deadheading off and on. Mostly they are so compact and full of bloom it is not that noticeable.
Spring is finally here and you will see plenty of Annuals and perennials on the the market. Most everything you consider will have a plant information note on it. Just remember even a sun plant takes a lot of heat in this area so it needs to be where it can get some water, from the sprinkler or you. Once the new smaller plants are settled in for a week they will not need to be watered as often.
Remember when you tilt out the plants from their store pots, if the roots of the plant are going around and around the soil, they need to be separated. No big task. Just use fingers to pull them apart from each other and let them hang around. Sometimes I even do not put the very bottom of the soil in the planting hole, just pull a little off and plop it into new home. The roots need to stretch and spread out into the soil. I do not fertilize right away. Sometimes, like with marigolds, I actually cut off the blooms the plant came with. They will bloom as soon as they are settled in. If you need instant flowers, of course, do not do that.
No real rains are coming around here until at least June so be vigilant with keeping plants, especially potted ones, nice and hydrated. Remember in the ground and in the pot, plants are like us gardeners. They need water to come in and they need that water to drain out. Plants in the shade are subject to drying winds, so don't forget them. There are plenty of fertilizers available, some for mainly blooms and some for foliage, organic or not organic. Slow release, instant release. It's your choice and you will figure it out. Planting pots be sure the soil you are using is not too heavy. It looks good, a dark heavy bag of soil, but it will not drain well .
This is the fun time to be picking out plants and figuring out where to plant them.
Send your questions to The Breeze at firstname.lastname@example.org
H. Jean Shields is past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral