What’s Best for Begonias?

Staking tuberous begonias is tricky because the stems are so fragile.

These white blooms really brighten the shady corner of our yard.

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The red-orange one reached 2 feet by the end of the season — despite the fact that I accidentally snapped its stem in May.

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A couple years ago, I inherited some begonia tubers from a woman who was moving away. Tuberous begonias are a little different from other begonias in that they have a big tuber that you can dig up. It’s easy to save the tubers if you dig them before frost. The result: bigger plants in the following years.

Although I saved the tubers successfully, I couldn’t figure out the best way to stake them. Tuberous begonias have thick stems, but they’re brittle. One careless move and SNAP. After a rainfall, the heavy, water-soaked flowers can break off because of their own weight. I tried using a single stake along the main stem. The problem is, it’s hard to get the stake near the stem because the tubers are so large. Too close and you’ll poke right through it.

This tuber from the white begonia is huge. I potted it up for starting indoors on March 29.

As the begonias grew, I found the need to add even more support to the spreading “branches”. Each plant was supported with several bamboo stakes and Velcro plant ties. It was a lot of fiddly work, but I don’t mind staking. In fact, I admit to being obsessed with finding the right stake, hoop or tie for every plant that needs it. So this year, I want to find a better way, and I’m thinking about our 12″ Grow-Through Supports.

Anyone else out there growing tuberous begonias? How do you support your plants? Let me know by adding a Comment.

If you’d like to try growing some tuberous begonias this year, purchase a plant at your local garden center or order some dormant tubers by mail. For more on the topic, read Growing Begonias.

These are the options I’m considering for this season: The 12″ Grow-Through Supports and the Curved Linking Stakes. Both types of support come in three sizes; I think the smallest will work best.
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2 Responses to What’s Best for Begonias?

  1. Julia says:

    Hi David, for supporting tuberous begonias in a garden bed I use small lengths of bamboo stakes (usually these are sections of broken 2 ft. stakes!)to make an X shape support. I push in two short stakes that cross each other creating a notch to cradle each stem. I keep the stakes small enough that they can’t be seen from above. This might not work for tuberous begonias in hanging pots or at close range.

  2. Hi Julia. Thanks for the idea. It sounds brilliant. I’ll give it a try. After a few weeks of rainy, cool weather, my tubers have not even sprouted yet. But, it’s sunny today so the greenhouse will be toasty. -David

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