Thursday, February 7, 2008

Random plant event: Begonia rex plants from leaf sections

I don't know how easy it's going to be to tell what's happening in these pictures, but I'm a little pressed for time so I can't really spend much time messing with them, and anyway it's a little hard to tell what's going on in person, too and there's only so much clarity to be gotten by messing with the pictures. So I'm sorry.

Some time ago (November 6, 2007), I was visiting another greenhouse (Wallace's, in Bettendorf, IA) and saw a big huge Begonia with large, star-shaped red-black leaves. I asked the person who was tending the plants there if I could have a leaf to take home and try to propagate, and she said she guessed so. Something to the effect of, well, we don't get a lot of people who ask, 'cause most people don't know how to do it, but I don't care if you want to take one and try.

So then I had to buy something, to assuage my guilt at getting something for free, but that was cool because I got a nice Sansevieria trifasciata 'Black Gold,' which was even on sale, so everything worked out and it was a good day.


So I cut up the leaves and planted them when I got home, and now here we are. I'm not sure how many individual plants are in the tray, but I counted at least ten, though so far none of them are quite old enough to develop the star shape of the parent leaf. You can see a few that are headed that direction, though. All of this came from a single leaf maybe three inches across.

I wasn't expecting this to work out that well: I will probably bring some of the abundance to work with me at some point, though I'm not eager to try to dig through the tray and divide them up: they seem to be doing so well where they are, and it's likely to be a pain to divide them and transport them in the cold. But in any case.

Our last plant delivery included a box of Begonia rex-cultorum, and several leaves broke off in the box during delivery; I tried doing the same with the broken leaves, but I think mostly they were too old or damaged: it looks like I'm only going to get one plant out of all those, and that might not happen either: we're still waiting for something to happen.

At some point I'll maybe get to posting about how to propagate from wedge cuttings like this. The best I could find while scrambling to get ready for work this morning was this page: wedge cuttings are discussed about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down.

UPDATE (8 Sep 2008): After I posted this, I started to question whether it was, in fact, a rex-cultorum, because the leaf shape and pattern of coloration were not like most of the rex-cultorums I've ever seen. I'm still iffy about it, but I did find pictures of a variety called 'Coffee Texas Star' that does look quite a lot like my plant. So maybe it was a rex-cultorum all along.

UPDATE (7 Nov 2009): I did eventually get around to posting about how to do this. (When I say "eventually," I mean eventually.) The post is here.

I'm also realizing that these pictures were crappy. I should probably not have posted these. Oh well.


Unknown said...

I bought this same plant (benonia rex culturum) in last August. It was beautiful, but since then it has died off bit by bit. I've grown tons of begonias, and I don't know what is wrong. i'll be quite sad if I can't figure it out and lose the plant entirely. I sprayed a generic bug spray on it, i see no bug "remains" and I've tried watering less and more, moved it into and out of the sun...any suggestions? Yesterday i pulled off a section and put it in water to try to root it hoping to salvage SOMETHING...

Unknown said...

Please let me know if you have suggestions!

mr_subjunctive said...

My best guess would be humidity, since that seems to be the second most common issue with them (first would be mildew). But if you've grown lots of Begonias before, you probably knew that already. So I'm not sure.

My own plants (of the ones in the pictures above) are either very close to very bright artificial light, or in a partly-obstructed west window. Humidity is probably high because both are surrounded by lots of other plants. Temperature doesn't go below 60; the one near the lights probably does get pretty warm on a regular basis. I let them all get about three-quarters dry between waterings, which is dryer than they'd like but they put up with it.

Helpful at all?