Knowledge To Grow – Begonia Propagation

I have had many guests at my B&B who have shared some of their gardening success stories.  One of my favorites is the use of Dragon Wing Begonias in a window box.  I must tell you these flowers are fabulous!

Dragon wing plants fill in fast to create a lush container garden that will last up to the first frost.  These plants have dark green, glossy leaves and bloom profusely from early spring to frost.  They will reach a height of 18 to 24 inches and will thrive in sun, partial shade and light shade.

I will definitely be taking some cuttings of this plant to propagate and fill my containers next spring.  Propagation involves taking a portion of a plant and rooting it to grow into a new plant.  I will use the stem cutting method.

To do this, cut off a piece of stem, 4 to 6 inches long.  You will need to have at least 3 sets of leaves on your cutting.  Make a bottom cut just below a node (a node is where the leaf joins the stem).   Starting from the bottom of the cutting, cut off one half to two thirds of the leaves and cut large leaves in half.  Remove all flowers and flower buds.

Prepare a small pot of damp rooting mix, using a pencil to make a hole for the cutting.  Plants contain a hormone, auxin, that stimulates root formation.  Some plants will root readily because of the naturally occurring auxin without using a synthetic form of a rooting hormone.  I will use a synthetic rooting hormone just to improve my chances of success.  Dip the lower inch of the cutting in rooting hormone, then place the stem, 1 to 2 inches deep, in the prepared hole and fill the rooting mix around it.  Do not allow the leaves to touch the surface of the mix.  If they do, trim them back.  Place a clear, plastic bag over the pot making sure it does not touch the leaves.

Place the pot in a warm, bright spot, keeping it out of direct sunlight.  Water as necessary.  After two or three weeks, work your hand under the cutting and lift to see if roots have formed.  If roots are small or have not formed yet, place it back into the pot, tamp the mix around the stem and enclose it in the bag.  Check again in several weeks.

When you have roots, open the plastic bag a small amount each day to decrease the humidity.  Once it is growing well, pot it into a good quality potting mix.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636 2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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