For years plant breeders have developed and are developing exceptional plant varieties worthy of a spot-light and a recognition boost in the gardening world. Periodically we will highlight these remarkable plants and provide compelling reasons why they merit consideration in your flower gardens. We begin this initiative in a big way with a noteworthy and rather sizeable begonia plant.
Years ago, if someone told you that a Begonia can grow 18” high and an 18” spread, amassed with flowers from spring to fall, you’d assume they had been snacking on the fungal gardens in Alice’s Wonderland. Mushroom hallucinations aside, The BIG Begonia is the real deal.
Typically, we turn to market experts to hatch clever names for new plant varieties based on unique characteristics. When the new development is a breakthrough Begonia hybrid that is a vigorous plant with distinctively larger flowers; adjectives such as “big” might quickly be dismissed for being too simple and lacking pizzazz. Not so with the Benary Seed Company, with over 100 years of breeding superior begonias, they aptly named the plant “BIG” or the “BIG Series” of Begonias for good reasons.
Begonias in the BIG Series (Begonia x beneriensis) are popular and have been around since their introduction in 2008. Yet considering their size and the whopping floral impact, I’ve wondered why BIG Begonias have not received more attention. In fact, it prompts the question, are gardeners truly aware when purchasing young BIG plants that it is not
your basic little begonia that maxes out as 6”x 6” plant that has been plopped in gardens forever?
The misunderstanding continues as some gardeners come to an illusion conclusion that their little begonias grew to be king-size from a hidden botanical talent they weren’t aware they had. Are some novices convinced that diligent watering, weeding or a mysterious plant food concoction dreamed-up on the internet has produced the colossal plant and flowers? Or maybe they just missed the label that identified them as BIG Series Begonias. We need to be real and acknowledge BIG is a result of decades of expert breeding and trials.
Beyond just big, BIG offers more than size.
Features of the BIG Begonias worth distinction:
- Easy to grow
- Adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions
- Thrives in sun or partial shade
- Blooms nearly 1-2 weeks earlier than most begonias
- Available in pink flower and green leaf, red flower with green and also bronze leaf, rose flower with bronze leaf
- Flowers develop above the leaves increasing visibility
- Blooms are nearly 3 times the size of standard wax begonias
- Spent flowers drop off the plant (self-cleaning feature), no need for dead-heading
- Thick, waxy leaves enable plants to handle short periods of hot, dry weather
- By spacing plants 12+” apart, floral impact is achieved with fewer plants
- Disease and insect concerns are minimal or usually not an issue
This coming spring get your flower garden off to a good start, don’t sell yourself short or limit your dreams.
Go big – BIG BEGONIAS – or go home
-Rob McCartney, Horticulturist
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