Monday, November 7, 2016

Begonia Bloggin'

A rainbow of leaves.
The Angel Wing Begonia's leaves turn red underneath as they age!

The begonia plant that I got from a friend back in summer is supposed to be getting ready for winter, but it has decided that it's not ready yet and is growing new leaves at a breakneck pace. (I'm not ready either begonia. I totally understand.) Since it seemed so healthy, I decided to try giving it a slight trim and propagating the stem that I trimmed off. So far it seems to be working well, and I decided to make a blog post to obsess over how well it's doing.

First a little background on the Angel Wing Begonia. There are several different types of begonias, from the kind that you see commonly at your local Home Depot garden center (wax begonias) to hybrid varieties created by botanists to have weird traits like super spirally leaves, purple foliage, or tiger stripes!

Some of the many varieties of begonias
I think the kind I have is a Lucerna hybrid (though I don't know exactly what it's hybridized with) or Angel Wing begonia. It grows in tall canes, sort of like bamboo, and can grow several feet tall! It has pink blooms and dark green leaves with silver spots and red backs.

My plant bloomed around August. The flowers look just like wax begonia flowers!
Mine was beginning to get very top-heavy with all of the leaves, so I staked some of the stems and cut one to try and propagate it. I had heard that you could put the stems straight into water or into damp perlite, so I decided to try both. Perlite is the white rock looking stuff found in potting soil but they sell it all by itself. It's sterile, so your baby plants are less likely to get moldy or have any sort of bacteria infection while still delicate. 

Damp perlite in a vase, with the begonia cutting shoved into it
The leaves wilted a fair amount in the week it took for the stems to start forming roots, and I removed a leaf or two (the stem used to have four leaves) but eventually it perked up. I left it for another two weeks and then pulled it out. It had roots! :D

Roots that formed on the begonia cutting
The cutting in water also rooted! I couldn't see any difference between the two other than the one in perlite had a few more roots. That could be because I trimmed the small water-jar one off of the bigger one a few days in, though, so it didn't have as much of a head start. 

Water-rooted begonia cutting
I planted the perlite cutting in the big begonia pot to provide a few more leaves lower down. The water-rooted one will go in a separate pot to start an entirely new begonia! I may put that one in my office at work.

The re-potted begonia cutting

I also took one of the leaves that I trimmed off and tried doing a leaf cutting propagation. Although the leaf pieces haven't died or molded yet, they also aren't doing anything spectacular. I just keep misting them from time to time. Until something tells me they're dead I'll just assume they're taking their time about growing roots. 

Half a juice container turned out to be perfect for a mini-greenhouse

Anyway, that is my update on the Angel Wing begonia!