23 January 2018

Beefsteak Begonia Propagate Stem Cuttings

Beefsteak Begonia
Every two years Beefsteak Begonias, Begonia erythrophylla, benefit from being pruned and propagated. This is a very easy plant to take care of and the worst you can do to it is to keep a water filled saucer under it. These plants enjoy being dry.

In two years, the stems become long and move out over the edge of the pot, making the plant's mass too large for most environments.

Ours live on the screened front porch in the summer which has a western exposure. In the cold months, they live under full spectrum lights in the living room. 
They flower their hears out in either location, adding delicate pink bouquets wherever they are growing.

My original, single, leaf came from a leaf I plucked from an office dweller's plant that was 4 feet across and hung 3 feet down on those long stems. I grew that plant in a clear plastic to go box on moist vermiculite.

The stem you'll prune is the leggy part that has dropped its leaves. Make 4 to 6 inch long cuttings, cutting stems just below a bud or leaf junction. Don't leave any stem below the bud.
Mini greenhouse
MO Botanical Garden
Remove any lower leaves, allowing the cutting a few leaves at the top that will be above the soil. Also remove any remaining flowers or flower buds.

Use a pencil to make a hole in a container filled with moistened and drained sterile potting mix. If you are using rooting hormone powder or liquid, put some in a container and dip the bottom of the cutting, shaking off any extra. Place the cutting into the pre-made hole. Several cuttings can be put into the same container, using this process. I've put as many as 6 in a re-purposed salad mix box. 

To keep the container and its contents moist, create a greenhouse by putting the entire project into a clear plastic bag. Fill the bag with air to keep the leaves away from the sides of the bag. 

Brad's Begonia World
For the longer stems, just cut them into two-inch sections. No leaves are needed for this method. Follow the illustration on the left, putting less that half of the rhizome into the moist soil.
Rhizomes are fleshy and will simply rot if they are planted too deep or kept too wet.


I'm off to propagate! Good gardening.

According to Emily Compost, "Beefsteak Begonia was first named in 1670 by Charles Plumier in Santo Domingo after his sponsor Michel Begon, but begonias have been found growing in moderate temperatures all over the world. I don't know from what indigenous country Beefsteak originated or got its common name but it is a meaty begonia, rare, thick and red underneath, and substantial enough to feed a plant lover's hunger for many years. Of all my plants, this dear begonia is the one to curl up with at night with a good book.
This is a begonia that Ashley Wilkes would have given to Melanie before he went off to war in "Gone with the Wind". Its stoic ability to survive and thrive despite all odds is unparalleled and thus it comes with a history of being a plant that has been successfully passed down through generations of families. Today we call it an old fashioned variety of begonia bearing memories of its unusual, shiny "lily pads" on grandmother's windowsill. Or we remember the parlor palm next to the long fronded fern near the window with "that pancake plant".

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