I’ve grown Begonias for years; my favorites are the “angel-wing” begonias. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. They are beautiful, easy to propagate and grow – water when the soil is dry in the top inch and fertilize occasionally. They just take some pinching, light pruning, to keep in shape.
Angel-wings are a cane-type begonia which grow on tall woody stems that have bamboo-like joints. The choices are so many you can fill up a small nursery with just angel-wing type begonias.
Depending on the species, most have beautiful deeply lobed wing-like leaves in shades of green with reddish undersides. I say “most” because some species have leaves that are all green or almost all silver. Mine are an old cultivar named “Lucerne.” They have 4-8 inch leaves that are marked with silver splotches. Others may have smaller leaves hardly marked at all; or leaves may be marked with spots, swirls, or stripes. On some species the leaves have smooth edges; others are serrated or ruffled or lobed as mine are.
Angel-wings bloom readily with dangling clusters of white, pale pink, coral or red half to one inch flowers. But the leaves are the focal point. If you are exhibiting them in the Tehama District Fair, they are Container Plants – Grown for Foliage.
The angel-wings are easy to propagate –just add water! I pinch off (or they get broken off) 3 to 12 inch pieces with stem and leaves and put on the kitchen windowsill in a vase of water. I pinch off the lower leaves and keep the stems in water. In 6-8 weeks new roots develop at the breaks/joints. Finally, I remove the rooted stems and plant in new regular potting soil. I plant two or three of my newly rooted cuttings in 8-20 inch containers and keep them as indoor plants. Sometimes in summer they are moved out on our south-east facing side porch – still shaded from the hot sun. Here in Red Bluff angel-wing begonias are mostly indoor plants. They don’t like our hot sun, wind tears up their leaves, and they are too tender to survive outside in even our milder winters.
This year My Angels didn’t get pinched/pruned so they’ve grown to be 4-6 feet tall (usually I keep them pruned so they are shorter and fuller). With all the new growth on the top, they are starting to get bare on the lower stems. I will prune them hard this winter – down to 4-6 inches –no worries, they grow back! I’ll root the cuttings and have lots of new plants for our Garden Club Plant Sale May 4 and 5.
Begonias are readily available in most nurseries. Begonias are classified by their growth habits – cane-type, hardy, hiemalis, multiflora, rex, rhizomatous, semperflorens, shrub-like, trailing or climbing and of course the large flowered tuberous – some that are not cane-type have the angle-wing type leaves –shop and take home those you like best!
For fun, food, and shopping, we still have tickets available for the Garden Club “Tropical GetAway” Luncheon at Rolling Hills Casino, Saturday, Oct. 14. Speakers from the Little Red Hen Nursery will help us learn a little more about gardening – call Tracy at 707-246-6910 or me at 527-9403 for tickets.
Red Bluff Garden Club meets the last Tuesday of the month at the Red Bluff Community Center, 1500 S. Jackson St. Visitors are always welcome. Red Bluff Garden Club is a 501(c)(3), and a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., Pacific Region, and National Garden Clubs, Inc.