Elatior Begonia – Begonia x hiemalis
Profuse flowers over a long period of time in autumn and winter are the rewards you will enjoy if you grow one or more of the colorful Elatior Begonias.
Elatior Begonia belongs to a family of about 900 different species. This particular begonia belongs to a group called Hiemalis bogonias which was developed by extensive hybridization done by a German botanist Otto Rieger.
His work produced plants which were resistant to mildew, which had more and bigger flowers and an extended flowering season.
Elatior begonia are naturally autumn and winter flowering but can now be bought throughout the year. They have large green leaves, with flowers about 5-8 cm (2-3in) across. Flowers are semi-double, double and single. The color range is wide and includes red, pink, white and salmon pink. The flowers are long lasting the plant may be in flower for many months. New varieties and shades appear frequently. They do not have any scent.
Size and Growth
They are usually sold as fairly bushy and compact plants. If you grow them on from year to year, carefully cut back leggy growth to keep the compact shape.
Begonias make such a good display that they are best grown on their own. They need a window with bright but indirect light.
Looking after your plant
Latior or Heimalis hybrids need careful repotting. Repot only if it is necessary. The stems are very brittle and can easily snap off. A small injury could lead to rot or mildew. Repot after the flowering season when the plant has been cut back a bit.
Remove from old pot and try not to damage root.
Used a peat-based potting mixture. Moisten and fill the pot taking care with the roots. Do not press the mixture down too hard.
Put the Elatior begonia in the shade for a few days. At first do not water. This will force the roots to grow into the potting mixture in search of moisture and will establish the plant strongly. Begin more generous watering when well established, You can propagate new plants using tip-shoot cuttings.
Making new plants
Take a cutting just below a pair of leaves. Remove the lowest leaves on the cutting. Alternatively, take a young shoot from a leaf axil (right).
Plant cuttings in a mixture of equal parts of peat and sand and keep at a temperature of 22℃ (72℉). Avoid putting cuttings in direct sunlight as they will wilt.
Cover them with plastic. Make a few air holes in it or the cuttings will rot.
Once roots have formed, put cuttings into small pots and pinch out their tops from time to time, to make them bushy. About 4 months after taking the cuttings your plant will be in flower. After flowering, cut back the plants. Trim new shoots to maintain a compact shape. Avoid over-watering.
Brown spots on leaves indicate if you have not watered regularly and the sun has been too hot. Prevention: Remember to water regularly keeping the compost moist at all times. Treatment: Isolate the plant, discard infected parts and spray with a fungicide.
Small spots on leaves due to red spider mites. Treatment: If attack is bad discard the plant. If not, isolate it and treat with a suitable insecticide.
Leaves are yellow and drooping indicated the plant is too cool and damp. Prevention: Move it to a warmer place.
White floury spots on leaves and stems are caused by powdery mil-drew.
Aphid attack Treatment: Spray with a solution of soapy water. You can use other organic sprays. Follow the instructions on label. These sprays contain pyrethrum or rotenone and can be used safely on Elatior begonias.
Secrets of Success
These plants need understanding but are not too difficult to care for. They are fragile so care need to be taken when re-potting. Cut back after flowering and pinch new shoots back to keep compact shape.
Potting: Re-pot only if plant has grown too large for its original pot. Use a peat-based potting mixture.
In growing period water moderately. Let top of potting mixture dry out before you water. When not growing or flowering water strongly, keeping compost just moist.
Feeding: During the flowering season give a liquid fertilizer every time you water. Follow instructions on pack.
Light: These plants need a lot of light but avoid direct sun.
Temperature: If temperature rises much above 21℃-22℃ (70℉-72℉) buds and flowers will drop. In winter keep it around 15℃ (60℉).
These single-flowered varieties, above, have great appeal as their blooms are uncomplicated. The semi-double blooms (shown on the front of the card) are usually smaller and more numerous than the double-flowered forms on the red Elatior begonia shown inside.
When to buy
Usually available throughout the year.
What to look for
Choose plants with fresh, green leaves, with plenty of buds, some already open. Check there are no signs of bruising on Leaves. Look on undersides of leaves for insects.
Individual plants may not live for a long time, but you can propagate them from cuttings.