1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Begonia

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

BEGONIA (named from M. Begon, a French patron of botany), a large genus (natural order, Begoniaceae) of succulent herbs or undershrubs, with about three hundred and fifty species in tropical moist climates, especially South America and India. About one hundred and fifty species are known in cultivation, and innumerable varieties and hybrid forms. Many are tuberous. The flowers are usually showy and large, white, rose, scarlet or yellow in colour; they are unisexual, the male containing numerous stamens, the female having a large inferior ovary and two to four branched or twisted stigmas. The fruit is a winged capsule containing numerous minute seeds. The leaves, which are often large and variegated, are unequal-sided.

Cuttings from flowering begonias root freely in sandy soil, if placed in heat at any season when moderately firm; as soon as rooted, they should be potted singly into 3-in. pots, in sandy loam mixed with leaf-mould and sand. They should be stopped to keep them bushy, placed in a light situation, and thinly shaded in the middle of very bright days. In a few weeks they will require another shift. They should not be overpotted, but instead assisted by manure water. The pots should be placed in a light pit near the roof glass. The summer-flowering kinds will soon begin blooming, but the autumn and winter flowering sorts should be kept growing on in a temperature of from 55° to 60° by night, with a few degrees more in the day. The tuberous-rooted sorts require to be kept at rest in winter, in a medium temperature, almost but not quite dry. In February they should be potted in a compost of sandy loam and leaf-mould, and placed in a temperate pit until May or June, when they may be moved to the greenhouse for flowering. If they afterwards get at all pot-bound, weak manure should be applied. After blooming, the supply of water must be again slackened; in winter the plants should be stored in a dry place secure from frost; they are increased by late summer and autumn cuttings, after being partially cut down.