March, 2017

March, 2017

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Next Meeting

When:  Monday, March 13, 2017 at 7:00p.m.
Where:  Mounts Auditorium
Refreshments:   Susan Roberts
Badge Plant:     ?
Program:  - Every thing you wanted to Know about Begonia Culture and Propagation and Were Afraid to Ask

President: Pat Dempsey   Vice-president: Ed Whalen   Treasurer: Frances Drescher    Secretary: Petra Russell
Special Events and Refreshment Chair: Susan Roberts    Membership: Sandy Schlar   Newsletter: Johanna Kitson

March Program

Every thing you wanted to Know about Begonia Culture and Propagation and Were Afraid to Ask

In preparation for the Club's visit to Doris Happel's gardens on Saturday, March 18th, for a propagation party, we thought it would be a good time to discuss the types of begonias we have in our own Mounts Begonia Garden. Many of the clippings that we have gotten from Doris in the past are now thriving plants in this garden. We have eight categories of begonias, which were listed in the February Newsletter. Cuttings from our garden will show the differences of rhizomatous characteristics, cane characteristics, thick-stemmed, trailing scandent and shrub-like. What is the difference between a semperflorens wax begonia and a tuberous begonia? Clippings used during the program will be placed on the raffle able.

April Program Notice: Our program in April will be ……. A BIG SHOW WHAT YOU ARE GROWING! It will be nice to see what begonia varieties other members are growing.

Every member brings in at least one of their best begonia plants, terrarium, begonia container garden, begonia strawberry pot, or unusual container, etc. That's 6 weeks away so that should be ample notice to clean up those pots and groom your plants (such as removing those spent blooms and any torn or dead leaves). Everyone who won at Begonia Bingo, a raffle, or bought something at our sales, should have something decent to bring. Many of us have something they were growing before these events that would be worthy to show off as well.

Ribbons will be given out for best rhizomatous, best cane, best trailing-scandent, best thick- stemmed, best shrub-like, best unusual container, best terrarium. Bags of Nutricote will be given as prizes. A big zip-lock bag for First, a medium zip-lock bag for Second, and a sandwich sized bag for Third.

Ed Whalen, Program Chair

March Workshop---How to grow MORE begonias for your collection

The society will be hosting a begonia propagation workshop at Doris Happel’s house in the morning on Saturday, March 18. Show up at 9:30 a.m. Once the propagation workshop is over a tour of the yard will be led by Doris. You are welcome to bring cuttings and leaves from your collection to share with everybody as well. Bring the name of the begonia, if known. Or, perhaps someone will know the name of it when you bring the cutting. A separate email will be sent with the directions on how to get to Doris’ house.

2017 Refreshment and Badge Plant Sign Up

Refreshments March: Victoria Lang (need one more

March Badge Plant: Victoria Lang

Refreshments April: Ed Whalen and Vicky Alleyne

April Badge Plant: Ed Whalen

Refreshments May: Phyllis / Ira Weiss

Badge Plant: Sandy Sklar

Refreshments June: Petra Russell and (need one more)

Badge Plant: Needed

Refreshments July: Frances Drescher and Denise Friedlander

Badge Plant: Frances Drescher

Refreshments August: Petra Russell

Badge Plant: Needed

Refreshments September: Nancy Cavnar One Needed

Badge Plant: Needed

Refreshments October: Richard Grate One needed

Badge Plant: Needed

Refreshments November: Sandy Arlund One needed

Badge Plant: Needed

December Holiday Potluck Party and Begonia Bingo

How to Kill a Begonia
By Virginia Jens

We’ve all done it. You aren’t special. Is it that we love our begonias “to death”? Are we masters of neglect? Have our gardens been invaded by invisible aliens who are killing our plants as the mother ship touches down? Possibly.

The general rule of begoniacs across the country is “you can’t grow it if you’ve killed it 3 times.” So, what’s a beginner to do? Keep killing plants or move on to another plant family? Let’s review some common means of begoniacide and you can meditate to determine if you are guilty.


Such a cute little plant and look, it’s so crowded in its 2” pot. It will be so happy with room to wiggle its roots. I’ll get the 6” pot and I’m good for a few months. Nooooooo……

Rule 1: Given the choice between pot bound and lots of room, survey says begonias prefer pot bound or just an itsy bit bigger container. Annoying, yes… as you seem to pot all the time. But think about a begonia’s native home (they’re immigrants to South Florida). In general, they grow at higher altitudes than sea level, and find niches in rock cliffs, becoming almost epiphytic (which is a fancy word for doesn’t need dirt- will attach to cliff, tree, etc. - think orchid). If you REALLY, REALLY do think it needs a bigger pot and you can only find a 6”, make sure you have a massive drainage project going on under the top soil. If you don’t have Styrofoam, try small plastic bottles or pebbles or both, and make sure that soil drains. You don’t want all that soil staying wet and rotting the roots. Which leads us to Rule 2.


I’m going to visit my grandkids. I’ll water my begonias really well and have my neighbor water them every day. Noooooo…….

Rule 2: Watering. If a begonia is well drained, it will delight in those monsoon-like summer rains. Again, remember where they came from- well drained cliffs. If overpotted or in heavy soil, not so much delight. Water every day….in rainy season? No. In the Mexican state of Veracruz, Charles and I found that the night fog was very thick and the rock cliffs were wet, but dried out during the day. It’s better to give a good soaking every couple of days (you have to experiment with it) and not every day. If your potting soil dried out every day- you need to pot up, 1” or 2”. If it’s still wet, don’t.


Many Begonias will take more sun than you think; morning or very late afternoon sun are best. No middle-of-the-treeless- parking-lot at noon sun. The general rule is that the lighter green leaved begonias will take more sun than dark leaved begonias. The red hairs/pigment on the underside of the dark green begonias are thought to be an evolutionary device to catch sun rays reflected off the darker jungle floor enabling a plant to make its needed food in a lower light area.

Rule 3: Begonias, like cats, hate change and having familiar surroundings changed. The sun moves not only east to west daily, but north to south by season. The plants that are totally happy now need to be moved accordingly so they won’t fry or get too much shade later. This sun thing is complicated. If they are happy, try not to move them until you absolutely have to. Better unhappy but alive.


Plants speak to us. Something catches our eye - a sheen, a growth habit, a leaf color, adorable flowers…. but liking it isn’t a guarantee it will grow for us. Again - you aren’t special- we’ve all been there.

Rule 4: Local hybrids work better for most of us rather than those hybridized from California or Texas. Greg Sytch’s hybrids are almost bullet-proof. Why? The seeds were set, harvested, sown, and grown in our climate. Beginners should start with those South Florida hybrids that have a good track records- Big Mac, Tiger Kitten, Victoria Woods (all Paul Lowe hybrids), Withlacoochee and Tequesta (Francis Michaelson hybrids from the 50’s), Island Magic, Honeymoon Island, Bashful Bandit, Careless Whisper (all Greg Sytch hybrids). Most Mexican species do exceptionally well here- odorata alba or rosea (either in landscape or pots on the patio). Yes, some Texas hybrids or California do well- I had great luck with Palomar Prince from San Diego. But if you are just starting out, there’s nothing like success. And yes, some people surprise me with begonias I’d never think would be successful in our area. See Introductory remarks- you can’t say you can’t grow it until you’ve killed a plant (of that species/hybrid) three times.


Remember, we’ve all been there. Ask around at a meeting, find out who else is growing that plant and how theirs is doing. Bring the plant in to visit at a meeting…. it’s so much easier to diagnose and make suggestions with the plant in hand. Remember- it’s a hobby. Have fun!

Virginia Jens

Meeting Minutes for February 13, 2017

President Patrick Dempsey called the meeting to order at 7:30pm.

Thanks to Lee Statkewicz for getting to the building early to hold the room for our meeting.

Treasure’s report was given by Frances Drescher reporting $4,821.43 in the bank.

Welcomed Guests: Sally Settenberg, Jeanette Schmist, Susan Nene, Patricia Bennett, Aimer Bakken.

Welcomed some guests from the Oleander Garden club.

Special Thanks to Suzan Roberts and Charlos Jaros for picking up the plants for tonight’s Auction.

Refreshments Sandra Sklar, Suzan Roberts, Marcia Bedasse, Marsha Baghdadi.

Upcoming events : Workshop this Saturday 2/18 on basic propagation at Mounts Botanical garden.

Garden Tour and Begonia Propagation party at Doris Happel’s house in March the Saturday after our monthly meeting.

Suellen – Doris will give lecture on propagation first and teach how to propagate.

Patrick - Doris has a wealth of knowledge and we always learn a lot from her lectures.

Patrick spoke about the monthly workshop is working fine, we are also planning to build a living wall.

Old business:

Frances - Need to set a date for the financial committee to review the finances before the March meeting

Patrick - April meeting we will have Show and Tell, everyone is encouraged to bring in a plant, we are planning to give our ribbons in upcoming meetings. You can find out the history of a plant by looking it up on the internet.

March meeting will be on Rhizomatous begonias.

Virginia Jens will go over how to prepare plants for judging.

Ed Whalen introduced our auctioneer Charles Jaros.

Virginia Jens and Johanna Kitson volunteered as plant runners.

Our Annual Begonia Auction was led by Auctioneer Charles Jaros, has a wealth of knowledge and was great ay explaining the history and parents of plants being auctioned.

The plants were beautiful and many people went home with unusual Begonias, we had a great time. There was also a Silent Auction, all plants found new homes.

Respectfully submitted,
Petra Russell, Recording Secretary