Louisiana growers dedicated to the worlds slowest art form
Every gardener has their favorite plant. Sometimes we get a beautiful plant at the nursery, bring it home and put it where we think it looks great, only to watch it wither and die no matter what we do. Sometimes that "perfect" spot was perfect for us, not the plant. Sometimes we can be the cause by killing with kindness. Too much light, or not enough? Too much water? Wrong soil? What happened? If you have enjoyed those delicate plants with the fancy colored leaves but have been afraid to try one, or you brought one home and pampered it only to watch your hopes and wishes melt into the dirt, or had success and want to try more, you should be with us!
If you have a shady spot where nothing seems to grow well There's a Begonia for that!
Bayou Begonia of the Month February 2020 Begonia reniformis Dryander by Freda Holley
Last month’s Begonia ludwigii was an unusual member of the Thick Stem horticultural group in that it is rather short in stature. These begonias are more often known as the ‘tree begonias’ because they are usually very tall and stately. Many of these begonias are quite hardy in our heat and humidity. Begoniareneformis has been chosen as our begonia of the month because for me it has always been the most representative and hardy begonia of the group.
The name comes from the reniform or kidney shape of the all-green leaves. This is a very ubiquitous species in Brazil and has considerable variation from leaf size to height and over time has gone under various synonyms including vitifolia and palmifolia since its initial publication by Dryander In 1791. It has huge clusters of white flowers on tall peduncles coming in late winter to early spring here. The flowers themselves are quite small. Pollination can be tedious because to get seed set, I find it necessary to pollinate a number of the tiny flowers.
This is a great landscape plant, but is not often seen in shows both because of its size and overall plain appearance. It is not often hybridized also because of those factors; however, Bernard Yorke in Australia has several cultivars including ‘Strawberries and Crème’, ‘Naybor’, and ‘Varsity’. Perhaps the most famous U.S. cultivar is B. ‘Boomer’, Mabel Corwin’s cross on B. soli-mutata. My own cultivars include ‘Jack’s Beanstalk’, ‘Gideon’, and ‘Windswept’. The last being more unusual because it is a cross with a trailing scandent. B. reneformis has 38 chromosome as do several of the trailing scandents inlucding B. glabra used in the latter cross. All these cultivars are equally as hardy for us as reneformis itself.