Named for the three ‘Sun Cities’ of the USA, Begonia boliviensis 'F1 Sun Cities' produces masses of large, eye-catching, trailing blossoms between early summer and late autumn. ‘San Francisco’ has salmon-pink blooms, ‘Santa Barbara’ features white blooms and ‘Santa Cruz’, fiery red blooms
The blooms are held against large, arrow-shaped, neatly serrated, green leaves. They make elegant cascades of vivid, elongated flowers, perfect for windowboxes and hanging baskets, where you can see the blooms from a lower position, or for any containers where they can hang beautifully over the sides.
Begonia boliviensis 'Sun Cities' typically grows up to 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) tall and wide. It is also the answer for those gardeners who want begonias that actually like hot and sunny conditions. The ideal soil should be rich, moist and well-drained. Provide good air circulation around plants, but protect them from strong winds. Helpfully, for the time-pressed gardener, this begonia does not require deadheading.
Store your begonia tubers over winter and plant them again next spring to repeat your summer success year after year.
Sowing: Sow between December and March for flowering between June and September.
Sow in peat-free compost and use a tamper to lightly firm the compost before sowing the seed. Do not cover seeds as they need light to germinate.
Begonias are tender plants so should be kept in controlled conditions like a greenhouse or propagator. Bottom-heat will improve results and is recommended. The seeds can take between 15 to 60 days to germinate. Prick out when the first true seed leaves are visible. Use a dibber to gently lever the seedlings out ,only handling the leaves not the roots or stems.
As the begonia plants put on growth a little and often foliar spray with dilute Seaweed extract will make for strong plants. Once plants reach a decent size switch to a Tomato or Potash feed to encourage heavy flowering.
Select a location that gets partial shade or filtered sunlight; with morning sun and afternoon shade being the best, especially in areas where it is exceptionally hot. Watering is very important so check daily, best to do it early in the morning as this will properly dampen the soil.
Plant outdoors only after all threat of frost has passed, as they are extremely frost tender and even temperatures below 10°C (50°F) can cause damage. The Begonia plants need to be acclimatised to outside conditions before planting out at 20cm (8in) apart.
Begonia do well when grown in baskets or containers, mix a slow-release balanced fertiliser into the compost.
Plant in a location where they will have good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew, if this happens, spray with organic deterrent fungicide.
Pendula or Hanging Begonias are characterised by the downward manner of their growth habit. Instead of growing up towards the sun, this type of Begonia has flowers that flow over the sides of containers, making them ideal for hanging baskets where they can be hung from tree branches or suspended from a pergola. Covered areas provide the filtered light and protection from the hot summer sun that begonias need.
The flowers that emerge from pendula begonias are unlike the flowers of any other type of Begonia. Bunches of small blooms grow off of short, thin stems that are attached to the main plant stems. When the small flowers form clusters, they create the illusion of larger flowers. The maximum height that pendula begonias reach is 40cm (15in).
Tuberous Begonia Bulbs:
Begonia Bulbs are not frost tolerant so it is imperative that anyone who wants to grow begonia bulbs consider average daily temperatures when preparing to plant in the spring or overwinter tubers in dormancy
According to the Royal Horticultural Society’s plant hardiness ratings that were established in 2013, tuberous begonias have an H2 rating, which means that they cannot survive in temperatures that are colder than 1 to 5°C (34 to 41°F). They are considered tender perennials that can be suitably overwintered indoors in a cool, frost-free glasshouse or greenhouse.
How to Winter Over Tuberous Begonias:
Prized for their green foliage and many blooms, tuberous begonias are a tender perennial. Tuberous begonia foliage dies off each winter, but the underground tubers they grow from remain viable. They do not survive in frozen winter ground, so must be dug up and stored in order to winter over. The begonias go dormant over winter, requiring little care during storage. When properly stored, they are simple to replant in the bed or container in the spring, where they will once again bloom throughout summer and into autumn. Stop fertilising the begonias in late summer. Gradually reduce watering until the first autumn frosts.
Cut off the tops of the begonia plants once they begin to yellow and die back in the fall. Cut off all but 12cm (5in) of stem using garden shears or a sharp knife. Dig around the tuberous roots to a 15cm (6in) depth. Slip the trowel under the roots and lift the begonias out of the ground. Brush off the excess soil from the root system using your hands.
Lay down sheets of newspaper in a dry room. Spread the tuberous roots out to dry on the newspaper, ensuring that they are not in direct sunlight. Dry the begonias for one to two weeks or until the remaining stems become brittle and loose. Pull off the dried stems and brush off any small roots that are still attached to the tubers
Fill a box with dry vermiculite. Set the tubers in the box and store them in a dry, cool room until you are ready to replant them in spring. You can store the tubers in a refrigerator or place them in an unheated basement or garage. Check the roots periodically throughout winter to make sure no pests, such as mice, are eating them.
Like many plants, the roots and tubers of Begonia are mildly toxic. Handling the plants is harmless, though gardeners should wash their hands after handling or pruning, to avoid transferring the oil of the begonias to food or face.
Until 1557, a Mexican species of a begonia-like plant was known as B. gracillis. Franz Hernandez referred to the plant as Totoncaxo coyollin. The earliest reference to the plant that is now known as the Begonia probably occurred in 1649 when a Mexican monk by the name of Franz Hernandez described the unnamed flower that he had seen in drawings. He described flowers that were bell-shaped blooms that grew downward, so the flowers appeared to be drooping. The roots of this plant grew from a tuber below the soil.
In 1689, King Louis XIV ordered the superintendent of ships, Michael Bégon (1638-1670) to assemble a team of scientists to go on a botanical expedition to the West Indies. Bégon designated Joseph Donat Surian, a physician from Marseilles as the team’s leader. Surian needed to find someone to help him with the research on the trip. Charles Plumier became that person, and he did drawings of the plants that Surian collected. In 1690, Charles Plumier (1646-1706) became the first person to describe begonias, a type of flowering plant he named in honour of Michael Bégon.
Throughout the mid-17th century, men who travelled would bring plants, leaves, and pressed flowers back to Europe. In 1777, William Brown sent the first Begonia plant, Begonia minor to Kew Gardens. The arrival of B. minor at Kew Gardens represented the first time Western horticulturalists were introduced to begonias. By the early 1800s, botanists began experimenting with hybridisation to create new tuberous Begonia cultivars.
Tuberous begonias were initially found on the high slopes of the Andes Mountains where they were surrounded by trees. This native habitat provided the ideal growing conditions that these Begonia plants need. Temperatures are cooler at higher elevations, and there was plenty of moisture and shade in rainforests. These unique Begonia bulbs first came to Europe in the 19th century. They had small flowers that measured no more than 2.5cm (1in) in diameter. These cultivars were single-flowered specimens.
The earliest hybridisation efforts with tuberous or bulb begonias took place at Veitch nurseries, under the guidance of John Seden. In 1870, the first tuberous hybrid from Seden’s programme was introduced. It was called Begonia ‘sedenii’, and large, magenta-coloured flowers characterised it. The success of Seden’s initial hybridisation effort inspired botanists throughout Europe to develop more tuberous hybrids. Four years later, botanists successfully crossed B. ‘Sedenii,’ and B. dregei, a South African species that had white flowers. The resulting hybrid was called ‘White Queen.’ It became the first pure white example of a tuberous Begonia hybrid.
In 1886, British plant hunter, Richard Pearce introduced B. veitchii, a species he found around Cuzco in the Andes Mountains of Peru, not far from the yet-to-be-discovered world wonder, Machu Picchu.
During this same period, French Begonia breeder, Victor Lemoine succeeded in creating a double-flowering tuberous Begonia hybrid that he called “Gloire de Nancy.” His notable accomplishment was the result of crossing three tuberous species: B. ‘Sedenii,’ B. Veitchii, and B. pearci.
From that point on, rapid development in tuberous Begonia hybridisation efforts prompted botanists to divide the large group of B. x tuberhybridia hybrid begonias into 17 subgroups. They used distinctive plant characteristics as their method for categorising the new hybrid begonias. Subgroups included small and large double begonias, pendulous begonias, which included cascade begonias and hanging begonias, multiflora and fragrant begonias, Fimbriata begonias, and Picotee begonias.
It was initially thought that because of their origin, tuberous Begonias or Begonia bulbs were tropical plants. But the species that came from areas of the Andes mountains turned out to be more cold tolerant because of the climate at higher elevations in the hills.
The tuberous begonia is the only one that produces flowers in colours other than purple, red variations or white. The tuberous begonia is able to produce flowers in salmon, orange and yellow and all variations, as well as the regular red shades and white.
Named for Michel Bégon, known as Michel V Bégon or le Grand Bégon (1638 -1710) was a French ancien regime official. He was intendant de la marine at the port of Rochefort and intendant of the généralité of La Rochelle, as well as a passionate plant collector. He met the naturalist Charles Plumier in the Antilles, and Plumier later named the begonia after him.
This is an important event, as it was the first time that one botanist named a plant in honour of another, and it set an example for what was to become a tradition whereby newly discovered plants would be named after botanists. The name became official in 1753 when Linnaeus recorded the name of the plant in his famous encyclopedia entitled Species Plantarum.
The 'x' and the species name 'hybrida' indicates that this is a hybrid plant. Pronounced hy-BRID-uh, it is a cross between two plants resulting in a plant that differs in one or more genes from the parent plants. Often the name of the plants are shown without the cross.
This is an example of an interspecific hybrid. From the point of view of taxonomy, hybrids differ according to their parentage. Hybrids between different subspecies (such as between the Dog and Eurasian wolf) are called intra-specific hybrids. Interspecific hybrids are the offspring from interspecies mating.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Pelleted Seeds Seed Form Pelleted or Coated seeds - easy to see and handle Family Begoniaceae Genus Begonia Species boliviensis Cultivar F1 Sun Cities Common Name Pendula or Hanging Begonia, Tuberous Begonia Hardiness Tender Perennial Hardy H2 rating - they cannot survive in temperatures that are colder than 1 to 5°C (34 to 41°F). Flowers ‘San Francisco’ - salmon pink, ‘Santa Barbara’ - white and ‘Santa Cruz’, fiery red blooms. Natural Flower Time Late spring to early autumn Foliage Semi-trailing yet dense, sturdy growth habit. ‘ Height 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) Spread Cascades to 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) Spacing 30cm (12in) Position Full Sun to Part Sun Notes Tubers may be stored through winter and started into growth in early spring. Uses Also adaptable as a houseplant