Monday, November 30, 2009

Wax begonias

As I was cleaning out the last of the fall debris from my garden a few weeks ago, I thought some of my sturdy wax begonias might look nice in a vase. I cut off twenty stems and displayed them in a low, narrow glass container, to good effect. The coppery leaves looked excellent with some rust colored candles I had picked up at a craft fair. I was pleased to have pink flowers gracing my Thanksgiving season table, refreshingly delicate when compared with the usual wheat-and-maple leaf cornucopias. I am not a very good caretaker of cut flowers, and I went about my life, ignoring the little flowers that were thriving away in the light of a southern window. I realized this morning they had roots. I had inadvertently created a nice collection of new begonia plants from my cuttings.

Wax begonias belong to that dubious category of plants recommended for "children and new gardeners". As soon as I read a phrase like this, the snob in me wants to reject these begonias out of hand. But then I remind myself that I have a child and I am a (fairly) new gardener. Sigh. This year, I am still going to try my hand at more sophisticated projects, like growing hellebore from seed. But wax begonias have their place: they are cheap, easy to grow, and look nice in a shady patch in my garden. And my child does love them.

Several writers also note that this is plant is a "classic choice" for apartment buildings and gas stations, much like my beloved and oft-maligned dusty millers. Instantly, I can conjure the image of sorry little begonia plants spaced too far away from each other, arranged in too regular of a pattern, and surrounded by a pile of dyed-red wood mulch. Not really the ambiance one is looking to create in a backyard oasis. To avoid this, I am going to change over to container plantings this upcoming year, and stagger them around the shady spots of my garden. If they still reference a gas station, so be it! I am an urban homesteader after all.

As for those containers, I guess I have a head start. We'll see if I can successfully overwinter these new cuttings. If I can't, I know there will be large, well-priced flats for sale at even the most basic nurseries. Gas station owners need to shop somewhere, too!


  1. It is so fun to try new plants and also to try to overwinter them. Everything is worth a try when it comes to plants. Starting plants from seeds for me is a hit and miss adventure. Some do well while others to my frustration always fail. I am sure it is me and not the seeds but I keep trying.I have a couple of pots of begonias starting to some up from seed now. I wanted to try to see if they would grow for me. So far so good ;-) Helebore's would be a very interesting plant to try from seed. Good luck.

  2. I love begonias, stylish or not.