May 2018

Blooming Begonias Newsletter
Monday May 14, 2018

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When:  Monday, May 14, 2018 at 7:30p.m.
Where:  Mounts Auditorium
Refreshments:  ?
Badge Plant:    ?
Program:  - Propagating Begonias Many Ways
                     Johanna Kitson

President: Sandy Arland   Vice-president: Virginia Jens   Treasurer: Frances Drescher    Secretary: Denise Friedlander    National Representative: Johanna Kitson

President's Message

Thank you all who worked at the plant sale at the Mounts on April 27 (set-up) through the 29th. It was a good opportunity to talk to many people about begonias and our meetings; although I couldn’t do much talking, it was fun anyway.

This will be my last meeting for the summer, Virginia Jens will be presiding for me. This was the understanding when I took office that I would be leaving in May (16) to go up to my summer home in upstate New York (Athens). I will be returning in September for the October meeting. With the cool weather, I will be growing tuberous begonias. They are so pretty, and I will let you know how they turn out.

For our May program, Johanna Kitson will be doing a “prop party”. Learn how to increase your supply of begonias.

Hope you have an enjoyable summer, stay cool.

Sandy Arland, President

May Program

Our program in May will encompass several different ways to create more begonias for your collections. Some of the more usual ways we have talked about over the years is propagating by seeds, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, rhizomes, water cuttings, circle cuttings, and wedge cuttings.

Demonstrations will cover these above methods and then we will try something new. This will entail an option of member participation. If participating in this hands-on demonstration, as well as the above methods, please sit towards the front of the room and bring the following ingredients:

One clear/opaque plastic shoe box or sweater box with lid
A pair of scissors or a single edge razor blade
Three pieces of a paper towel
10 plastic labels and a pencil
3-4 cups of damp sphagnum moss in a quart or gallon sized zip lock bag
5-6 cups of a damp peat and perlite potting mix in a quart or gallon sized zip lock bag

And, last, but not least, EVERYONE bring 6-10 begonia leaves and/or a couple of rhizomes to share. Pick these leaves the day of the meeting and place them in a large zip lock bag or pick them just before you leave for the meeting. They should be healthy, mature, robust leaves without blemishes. Do not add water to this bag. Blow a little air into the bag and seal it up creating a small greenhouse. After the meeting you can bring your leaves and cuttings home with you and watch the miracles happen.

The speaker will be Johanna Kitson. If you have questions about any of the above before the meeting, contact her before Friday, May 12th at 772-224-2712 or at using ‘’begonia society’’ as a subject line.


Last month in the newsletter, I wrote about cutting back old leaves after the winter season in-order-to stimulate new growth for springtime. Now that most of the blooming is over, cut off the old bloom spikes to tidy up your begonia garden. If you have not fertilized yet and want robust begonia plants and blooms for the future, then it is imperative to fertilize now. Of course, most any balanced fertilizer will do, but, once again, the time released fertilizer is the easiest. I was very happy to buy the fifty-pound bag of Nutricote that the Wellington Garden Club offered to us this spring. The bag was $75 but it sure beats buying it at those stores that sell it by the small one and two-pound containers! (I looked the other day and they wanted nearly $5 a pound for it which would come out to $250 dollars if you bought fifty pounds of Nutricote in the small canisters). Next year I will be certain to buy it by the large bag again as I use it for all the flower beds in my yard.

Growing new begonias in the mid to late spring is the best possible time to propagate them. Our temperatures are warm during the day and still a little cooler at night. And, most importantly, our daylight hours continue to increase till June 21. Seeds are fresh and ready to plant. Summer pests and too much summer rain has not arrived yet. Making your cuttings early in the year will enable you to grow much larger plants throughout the summer. Once the cuttings produce a little plant and get a little size them, then they can be fertilized. You can use a few pellets of time release fertilizer on these tiny plants, however, I prefer to control it even more by using water soluble fertilizer at half strength for the first few weeks until the root system establishes well. Peter’s, Jack’s, or Miracle Gro soluble fertilizers all seem to work well.

Johanna Kitson, Newsletter Editor


Meeting called to order at 7:30 p.m. by President Sandy Arlund.

President thanked Lee Statkewicz for opening the door early.

Refreshments provided by Victoria Lang and C.J. Greenspan

Chair reports:

National Representative Report:   Johanna Kitson reported on the convention board meeting.
>After 27 years Carol Notaras is stepping down from being our American Begonia Society Treasurer. We all gave her a standing ovation after this announcement. Wendy Corby will be taking over this position.
>Mark Tebbit returned the donation monies from ABS as his expedition was rained out. Visnu Arde will be going to Borneo to research begonias with the help of ABS.
>New ABS Branches are being formed in New York, Canada, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
>There were 150 registered participants at the convention.
>The next convention will be in Sacramento, Ca.
>The judging handbook will be revised, and another judging school will be scheduled for Sacramento.
>Our ABS membership is 789 in the U.S.A. and 100 foreign ones.
>Randy Kerr has requested that people send him close up pictures of U numbered begonias. At the convention there were three additional begonias issued U numbers. We are up to number U 663!
>The Ft. Worth Botanic Garden is requesting donations of more species begonias.

Treasurer's report:   Frances Drescher- No report, treasurer absent.

Membership:   Sandy Sklar - No new members or guests tonight.

Garden   Patrick Dempsey - Everything O.K. No new plants.

Events:   Susan Roberts states that the plant sale is well covered according to the print out in the newsletter.

Publicity:   Ed Whalen - No report was given as his wife is ill in the hospital.

Trips/Tours:   Suellen Solodar talked about the convention in New Orleans and that a tribute was given to Charles Jaros. She found the post-Katrina tour given by Bruce Nolan "incredible". Johanna Kitson also attended the convention and brought back some plants for sale.

Old Business:

Plant sale will be held at Mounts April 28, 29

New Business:



Board meeting this Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. in the Hutchinson Building, last one for the season.


Bruce Pearson, owner of Tropical World, talked about his bed and breakfast and farm that he purchased in 1990 in Mexico, and, of course, begonias and other plants that grow well there. Many of the begonias grow like weeds there as they come up in the cracks of the sidewalks. A couple he named were ‘Begonias heracleiifolia and nelumbiifolia’.

His African violet talk was great. #1 they need air movement, think an overhead fan. #2 Use a wick system, insert acrylic yarn in bottom hole through to the plant, then water, and it will keep moist that way. #3 Don't over fertilize, he recommends 1/8 tsp. per gallon; he uses the 20-20-20 strength soluble fertilizer.

The Badge plant was won by Denise Friedlander.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Denise Friedlander, Secretary