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Thread: care/propogation of "Rex" Begonias

  1. #1
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    care/propogation of "Rex" Begonias

    Good evening group. I have just signed up for this forum, and I am very happy to be here. I started to collect some "Rex" begonias before I was prepared to, I guess. The More I read, the more unprepared I feel. I had four unnamed Rex from a local nursery and bought an assortment of 10 from Rob's, which arrived in amazingly good condition on this hot, hot day. Now, if I can just keep them alive and as beautiful as they are now.
    First, since I have African Violets, I have inside light stands, under which I will leave the plants unless told differently. I use very porous soil mix, which should not contribute to any problem. The house is air conditioned, but my plant/computer room is in the 75-80 degree range mostof the time with borderline 50% humidity.

    My question, after this long rig-a-marole, is how do you keep them alive and well? I love to propogate leaf cuttings for my African Violets, but I have had no good luck doing the same with streptocarpus. Maybe I just don't understandthe process. How does one take a cutting, or do you wait until you can gently break apart the base of the plant?

    I probably am looking in the wrong places, but I can find very little help about "Rex" on the computer. Maybe it fits in with another kind of begonia that will give me some guidance.

    You have many other important things to discuss and do tonight, so Iwill close, but I hope to hear some of your suggestions. If I kill off 14 plants by fall, my wife will never let me buy another plant unless it is silk.

    charles, the senile senior
    crblan@sbcglobal.net
    charles, the senile senior
    charles in illinois

  2. #2

    "Rex" propagation

    I'm sure you've seen Ann's wonderful page on "Rex" leaf propagation. If you missed it here's the link: http://www.landspro.com/page14.htm

    I've never grown begonias but the simplicilty of leaf propagation makes me want to try.

    As far as their care, I'm sure someone here will stop by and offer advice in that area.

    Shari

  3. #3
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    Thank you, Shari

    Very nice tohear fromyou. Thanks for replying.
    charles, the senile senior
    charles, the senile senior
    charles in illinois

  4. #4
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    Charles,

    Welcome to Landspro!

    Shari mentioned the leaf cutting section of Landspro. That is a start....

    There is another section, one of many, that I hope to be adding soon, on Leaf Petiole cuttings. I have used this method and tried many different ways. The only one that I seem to have had problems with is the rooting in water. I am simply not good at it no matter what method that I have tried to use. Maybe, one day I will catch on to rooting in water. It simply has not happened yet.

    As far as caring for Rex Begonias, they are sensitive to two environmental factors. One is temperature. Depending on the specific plant, they may be more or less sensitive to high or low temperatures. The other factor that is important is soil moisture and humidity.

    I used to have mine in the house, and they did fine. But something happened and quite to my surprise, two little kittens came into my life and home, so all of my houseplants either stay outside, in the patio or in the garage with one exception.... I would never leave my Rex's in any of those locations during the winter. I have a special, very small room that I use for propagating. Last winter, the Rex's stayed in there.

    I don't know if it had to do with the amount of light, but I know it wasn't the temperatures, a few of them still went dormant which will happen. I am just not sure why since I did not allow the temperatures to go below 70 degrees. It may have been because I tried to let them flower and go to seed.

    Thankfully, they have broken dormancy and are doing quite well now. High temperatures are a different story. They simply do not do well when the temperatures sore.

    And the humidity factor is very critical. Although they do not like wet feet, their leaves seem to require high humidity. Since I am having to keep them in the patio currently where it is much too warm for them, I have filled some trays with about an inch of aquarium gravel, and I add water to the gravel which provides humidity to the Rex's leaves as it evaporates. They seem to appreciate it.

    One problem that I have noticed, though is that I cannot allow them to dry out as much as I did in the house. They wilt and look pitiful if they dry out at all when they are kept in so much heat. They simply do not seem to like the heat.

    As to fertilization, I have started using a special African Violet fertilizer mixed with lukewarm water. It tends to make them bloom more, so I have to be careful with that, but I hope to get some pictures of growing them from seed. I currently have many different varieties, and if I can become good at growing them from seed, I could create some very interesting offspring.

    As to the streptocarpus, I do not have any, so I can't tell you anything more than you can find on the web. I know that they can be propagated by leaf petiole cuttings and by leaf sections, but you remove the stem from the cuttings.

    Since African Violets, gloxinia and streptocarpus as well as many others are all part of the Gesneriaceae family of plants, the techniques on caring for them and propagating them are very similar. Yet a word of caution, there are some basic differences and those need to be considered.

    I have successfully propagated many Gloxinia via leaf petiole cuttings and seed. They grow quite easily from seed and bloom quickly as I have read that the streptocarpus do.

    With the gloxinia, I have found it best to let them go dormant after blooming, reduce watering them significantly until they have had their rest and start sprouting again.

    By far, my favorite way of propagating gloxinia is from seed. There are many doubled varieties of seeds that can be purchased as well as color combinations that are quite unusual and fantastic and very different from those that you find on the market.

    I would like to make a suggestion that may help you. There is a Sunset book called "How to Grow African Violets" that provides great information on the various members of the Gesneriaceae family of plants. I have learned a lot from it, and still refer to it from time to time.

    As for the Rex Begonias, I don't have any really good books, just a lot of patience and determination to try. I do use a fungicide and rooting hormone on Rex Begonia, African Violets and Gloxinia cuttings even though it is not required and not recommended. I have my own theories about that, and it is a topic all of its own.

    I am not sure if I answered your questions or not, but it is a topic that is close to my heart, so feel free to ask more or rephrase as I, too, am learning.

    And you are absolutely correct. There is very little information on the Rex Begonia on the web, but more and more is becoming available as time goes on. Just keep in mind that they are very different from any other begonia and have very different needs and requirements.

    Take care, and let me know what other questions you might have.

    Again, Welcome to Landspro!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  5. #5
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    You have the makings of a great booklet there

    Ann B.
    Thank you for taking the time to give me such a thorough answer to my questions. I know my questions was something like "What do you know about dirt?", but I am really a novice. I was walking through a nursery one day looking and these beautifies caught my eye. I bought two, went home , came back and bought two more. THEN, I made the big plunge an ordered 10 from Rob's at one time. My wife thinks I am completely nuts for jumping in with both feet, so to speak, but I love interest in two plants. How many times a day can you look at two plants?
    Anyway, I appreciate your reply. It was very informative, and I will put it in my "Rex" files------off my computer. I am of the age now that I can read paper much easier than computer screen--and I usually know where to find it.
    Many thanks,
    charles, the senile senior
    charles, the senile senior
    charles in illinois

  6. #6
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    West Midlands, England
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    Daer Charles
    Are these the plants I know as Begonia Rex? They are someewhat angular as to stem but carry heart-shaped, spotted leaves?
    If they are, I root stem in water and pot up in loose compost when the roots are about an inch long. After that, I water sparingly, mist the leaves every day, and repot when the roots fill the pot. I'm interested that AnnB lets them flower, as they're grown for their foliage here. The ones I have are babies of a huge one that grew in my husband's office. It is called George and about twenty years old. It must be a great great I don't know how many times great grandad by now. I have six at the moment. I find they like the cool, north facing porch in the winter - the house is too warm -and like to stand outside in the summer. I stand them against a north facing wall in light shade, just under the front window, but I have to watch they don't root in the gravel of the drive.

  7. #7
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    thank you Ann

    Thank you Ann for your remarks about the Rex Begonia or Begonia Rex, whichever. I am sure that it is the same. I love the colors of the leaves. I feel that I will really miss them in the winter if the "hybernate". I've never had much luck reviving plants that go to sleep for a time in the winter. Time will tell.

    The way you talk, your English weather is much better than our in Illinois, USA. We are hot,hot, hot and no rain for about a month and very little in the future. I have my Rex inside under lights, and I have been advised not to spritz them with water. When any of the leaves start to shrivel, I hold my breath. I hope that eventually mine will start growing in such a way that I can separate and have babies.

    Again, thanks for your response. It is always interesting to see how a plant works in other parts of the world.

    charles, the senile senior in illinois
    charles, the senile senior
    charles in illinois

  8. #8
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    Some things have come up that require my attention on another matter tonight, but I did want to share a couple of things, and I will add to this as soon as I can.

    Anne, the only reason I allow my Rex begonias to bloom is because I wish to learn to be good at growing them from seed. Currently, I am not. I wish to use fresh seed as opposed to purchased seed of ones that I have selectively crossed.

    In the meantime, I have found a good article for you to read:

    Begonia Production Guide - University of Florida, Central FLorida Research and Education Center

    Enjoy, and I will back with you later on more of my thoughts...
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  9. #9
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    Thank you, Ann

    Good morning;
    You were writing to Anne, but I am riding piggyback to say thank you for the article. I will read it carefully, because I bought all these Rex, have no idea what to do with them except love them for their beauty. Hope I can figure out what to do when they "go to sleep for the winter"
    charles, the senile senior in illinois

  10. #10
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    Charles, not all of mine go dormant. I keep them inside with plenty of light. A few do, and if they do, it is important to water very little.

    Anne, I have rooted a few in water, but I am not good at rooting very many things in water, and rather than leaf petiole, I usually do leaf cuttings as described in the leaf cuttings section of Landspro. I find I get more 'babies' that way, and my thoughts are that it is a sealed, sterile environment. Besides with a little one around, I am apt to forget to change the water often enough.

    I have a friend who keeps her Rex in a hanging pot under an oak tree, and it appears to flourish. I keep mine on my patio which is high in humidity, and I bring it inside in the winter. I haven't tried any of mine outside, but I intend to try some day.

    Enjoy!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  11. #11
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    Rex Begonias and Dormancy

    I'm glad they don't ALL go dorment. I just love those beauties.
    I have African Violets, Episcias, Streps and one leaf of a Kohleria. They seem to keep me busy changing water, changing positions, repotting. I keep asking myself "Why do I keep buying?" the answer is, of course, I can now; maybe not later".
    Thanks for all the input Anne and Ann.
    charles, the senile senior in illinois

  12. #12
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    Jun 2002
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    West Midlands, England
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    Dear Charles
    I've never had much success with African violets. My mother grows beauties, and propagates from leaves. When I ask her how, she tells me, and I do it, and they all die. MInd you, mum could push a walking stick in the ground and it would grow. So i rely on mum to supply me with saintpaulias. She just keeps them in a north-facing porch, waters from the bottom, feeds with a propretary saintpaulia feed, and off they go. Like a rainbow. She gives me one, and I kill it.
    Charles, are you able to put your begonias outside at all in the summer? Mine really benefit from this, provided they are shaded and well watered and fed. They grow amazingly fast. The cuttings I rooted up,no special treatment, are between 18" and 2' tall now, I intend to pinch them out this weekend to make them bush.
    I now know why AnnB lets her begonias flower! I pick the flowers off mine! MAybe I should leave a couple on and try them from seed........... it's something new
    Love Anne xxxxxxx

  13. #13
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    Anne, Ann and Rex Begonias

    Good to hear from England again, Anne. I started buying Rex Begonias only this summer (June) then bought ten on the computer, and now I wonder what the heck to do with them.

    I guess that had I started earlier, I could have put them outside. My back yard is shady all day after about 10:30 in the mornig. Wonderful old trees really do help. If we ae lucky enough to have our Christmas Poinsettias live until spring, I put them outside in the back and by fall they are beautiful bushes. I hesitate to take too many things out that I intend to bring back in because of bugs. Maybe next year I will try with the REX. I am just so happy to have those beautiful, smiling colors look at me every day. I hope they don't ALL go dorment in the winter.

    charles, the senile senior

  14. #14
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    African Violet Tips

    Anne and Charles,

    In case you entered Landspro directly through your Landspro email notification for this thread, I wanted to let you know that I posted a new thread regarding Arrican Violets on this forum. Either click on 'Landspro Message Board' and select the African Violet Tips Topic or click on the link below:

    I have been compiling this information, along with pictures of the project that will be a future addition called a 'Leaf Petiole Cuttings' section of www.landspro.com . Since this section is not quite complete, I thought I would pass along some tips that I have picked up over the years.

    Arican Violet Tips

    I have been compiling this information, along with pictures of the project that will be a future addition called a 'Leaf Petiole Cuttings' section of www.landspro.com . Since this section is not quite complete, I thought I would pass along some tips that I have picked up over the years.

    Some of these tips also work for Rex Begonia, and I have noted that in the above thread.

    I hope this helps, and if you know any more or have any questions, please join in on the discussion.

    Enjoy!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  15. #15
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    Ann;
    You are just a marvel. Do you have time to do anything except work with plants? I should talk; I do volunteer work parts of 5 days a week, but the rest of the time I am playing with/breaking my computer or tending plants. I prefer to say that I am"conserving my energies" rather than being lazy, but it took me more than a week to repot all my Violets, streps and espiscias. I am still afraid to touch the Rex. They seem to be thriving, so I guess I will leave them alone for another few days.
    My worry is that we are going away the end of September for two weeks, and since they don't like to be wicked, I don't know what to do with my Rex's. Oh well, I'll think of something---or you all ready have!
    charles
    charles, the senile senior
    charles in illinois

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