Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dragon Wing Begonia Seedling-From Seedling to Adult Plant

Surfing the web before I started begonia seedlings really helped. I read  over and over recommendations for seed starting on Brads Begonia World. Although I only ended with one adult seedling of 10, I feel successful growing a plant that many say is difficult to grow. Six of ten seedlings did make it to a good size. The other 4 not reaching adulthood was a choice. There was no concern to nurture seedling when my mother died in May. Seedlings were not the priority. Seven months from seedling to a mature sized plant and the first bloom seems like a long time. The seeds were started in December. I will start them earlier in the Fall this year. Who knows? With the cost of the plants in nurseries a little patience is well worth it.

What are some things that worked for me? Keeping a humidity done on the plants is really important. When the seeds come up they are almost microscopic. If you see a green speck on the growing medium that's likely the germinated seedling. Patience is a virtue when growing begonia because they do grow slow. I actually enjoyed getting up every morning and seeing the small changes. Keep the seedlings as close to your light source as possible. When they reach a good size I found that putting them too close to the light can wash out their color and may kill and burn the leaves. Also, begonias are shade plants so keep this in mind when it comes to light. 

The humidity dome was kept on for months and the seedlings spritzed with water when needed. I didn't transplant them until they were a good size. I watered them with a weak solution of Miracle Grow because they needed nutrients still growing in seed starting mix. Keeping them long in seed starting mix was not recommended, this was something I did. If any signs of mold developed on the soil, I watered them less and removed part of the dome to allow for air circulation. A mixture of water and peroxide always works well for me for any growth on the soil and seemed to help me to prevent damping off.

You can find what I did here to start the seeds and where I purchased my seeds. Lets look at the progress from December 28, 2013 till July 30, 2014.

January 8, 2014. Germinated in 11 days. Yes the tiny green specks are the begonia. I was horrified when I saw how small they were and said, "this is not for me", but I had patience with them.
January 28, 2014. Every seedling grew at at different rate.
January 28, 2014. Such progress in 20 days, lol!

February 15, 2014. Still growing at different rates.

February 24, 2014

March 6, 2014

April 15, 2014

May 29, 2014. I planted 2 begonias although they cannot be seen. The other four I threw out. Stupid but they weren't a priority at the time. I kept the 2 healthiest ones.
June 21, 2014. It finally peeked it's head out. The other begonia must have died. I looked but there was no sign it had ever been planted.
July 29, 2014
Didn't think it would ever bloom. Starting from seed is worth it in the end.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Goodbye July

Beautiful weather today with a temperature of 80. The low was 69 in the city and down to the 40's last night in the Pocono Mountains. Just a preview of September weather. Hard to believe but absolutely beautiful. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society came last week to judge the front of my house/garden. I entered the category for the majority of plants being in containers. Now the waiting begins to see if I won a ribbon. Wish me luck. I was lucky to have blooms on the coneflower, catmint, balloon flower, impatiens, and geraniums. Today everything needs deadheading. It's a nice day to work outside but I have other things to do after I take some pictures. No major changes with the plants. Glad they are still vibrant with the approach of August and more heat.
The sweet potato vine is clipped to the planter. It was all the way down on the steps and everyone who entered although carefully, stepped on it. After my containers were judged I clipped it up.

The dragon wing begonia bloomed. It took 7 months to get to this size and bloom. Let that be information for those who plan to start them from seeds. I started them in December and it took this long, so this year I'll start them earlier than December.
Sweet potato vine and the spider plant are now growing down the back of the planter.

The picture is blurry but their color is so vibrant red.

 Lobelia. I want more of this next season, it did well in containers.
Euphorbia Diamond Frost. This did really well. I looks delicate, but it's a tough plant. I want this again next year. Seeds are not available for this yet.

Chocolate covered cherry coleus is getting bigger.
She's a big girl, from seed.

Looks like powdery mildew and leaf minor which is an insect. I won't pull them. Just bought them this year and I don't think powdery mildew or leaf minor is harmful just not pretty to look at on the foliage. Can't wait until next year to see how the helenium does.

Ajuga and heuchera look good together. The ajuga is trying to creep into other areas again. You can't kill it just like the sedum that is also creeping.
Looks like insect damage on the hosta. Not worried the plants did so well this summer.

Snap dragons have been doing well in the heat. The are perennial in my region if you let the seeds fall they normally come back in the spring.
Hyacinth bean vine and thunbergia  grandaflora blue sky vine.
Surprised the catmint bloomed again.
I guess the canna will bloom in late summer.
Impatiens are hard to out due but the coleus are showing off.
Starting to droop. Time for water.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In The Yard

At last plants sitting in the yard waiting were planted today. It was beautiful outside with temperatures in the 70's. A great day to be out before the next heat wave next week. I got a lot done today and the rest saved for another day. Seven hours in the yard was more than enough. I still have the same dilemma. What to do with the yard. There is no other choice but to embrace my dappled shade garden and limited choice of plants. Actually there isn't a limited choice. There are many shade plants that flower. I have found that many like moist shade not dry.

If I can do tropical's like the elephants ear that would be okay too. I like the red impatiens and will add many more next season for color other than green. I dug up some of the garlic today. Don't know what to do with it except let it sit and see if it grows in size. I doubt it will since the tops dried up a while ago. The bulbs are real small but it was nice to see that they formed bulbs. It was my first time planting it. I will read more about how to plant it and when to harvest this fall when I plant more.

Finally gathered all the fern up so other plants in the container would have a chance to live. The spider plants are usually huge by now but not yet due to the fern. The impatiens and begonia were also too shaded and got leggy. I think the fern loves the moisture in the planter.

Take chives out of container. You can plant the container but I like to remove them. The chive will be so happy. It's been moved around for months and not planted.
Chives planted. Does it need a hair cut? I don't know anything about herbs.
Plant my seedlings and a Rosemary plant purchased during the winter.
The 2 geranium seedlings I saved. Look at the roots or lack of. This is why they didn't grow, fungus gnat larva likely.
All planted but doesn't look nice, but it will grow and fill out. I'll show you how it looks in about a week. I kept that bad looking viola in the container. Today a bee stayed on it so long. I'm going to trim it and see if it survives till fall.
Caladium left to plant and 1 canna. Three broccoli plants that were never planted. The bulbs are hyacinth that I had in the spring. hope they will make it until next spring so I can have them again. My mother bought them for me last spring and they were beautiful.

Canna squeezed into planter.

This is all that's left from the first planting thanks to squirrels or raccoons.
Caladium and vinca that grow wild in my yard put in. I'll be real upset if I go outside in the morning to see that squirrels have dug up the plants again. Even worse, ate the caladium bulbs.
My blueberry plant on the top step. No leaves. Dried up in the heat without watering. It's nice and green so it should survive.
Marguerite waiting to join the other plants. A sage plant is also waiting to be planted. Kind of late to be planting things but maybe the herbs will overwinter and return next spring.
Marguerite daisy butter fly. She survived for months not being planted and with little water. They are one of my favorites. I hope she will perk up and fill the container by the end of summer. She started out on the porch healthy and full of blooms waiting to be planted and then was banished to the yard. She's tough.
I hope they don't grow taller. They had to tie them up today because the were falling over. I also planted 2 bell peppers that had been waiting to be planted.
Lots of tomatoes are on the bushes.
Cucumber with something starting on it's leaves.
Another hosta planted. Next to it is actually a heuchera all eaten. By the time I thought to add some dust on the plant the slugs had eaten it.. There are also 3 astible  surviving in the heat. When I go back out to finish in the yard I'm going to pull them up and put the roots in a plastic bag with holes to try to create a bog in the hope this will retain some moisture and they will do better. It will be interesting to see how they do. This is their second year and they lasted longer this year and grew bigger. Maybe next summer they will live all season and be large?
On another day I have to clean up this bed of dead foilage from bulbs underneath. Last fall I planted 2 veronica, a shrub, and 3 black eyed Susan's in here. Two carex were also planted. Wrong decision. The hosta covered them. The veronica blooms look strange maybe indicating aster yellow like the cone flowers out front. I read that they can also get this. Makes me not want to plant them in the ground. Too much shade may add to the problem although there is so much more light with the limbs from the trees cut. I removed dried foliage from my clematis that died. I had a light purple one that climbed the trellis and bloomed 2 times last summer. It died over the winter. 
Small fence to hold up the peony and give the carex some light. Wrong decision to plant them there. Looked good last fall when every thing else was dead but not a good plan. I'm really surprised they're still living.
Black eyed Susan will not let hosta over shadow it and came up through the hosta.
I will put her in a pot and find a permanent spot for her.