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How to Propagate Angel Wing Begonias

Written by Mindy on October 12th, 2017

Begonias are an annual staple to many container gardens. While there are several different types, one of the most unique is the Angel Wing Begonia. The name comes from the shape of the leaves, which as the name implies looks like angel wings. Whereas you can dig up the whole plant and bring it in before a killing frost, why would you when propagating this annual is simple.

propagate.angel.wing.begoniasTo begin the process, one must first clean and sterilize a 3 to 4 inch container that has a drainage hole in the bottom. If you are going to do several cutting, prepare one container per cutting. The preparation is easy and begins with filling a basin with water. Add one capful of bleach to this water. Place pot(s) in the bleach water and soak for a few minutes. Once that is done, scrub to remove any dirt or hard water stains. Next, rinse in clear water and set out in the sun to dry.

After the pot(s) have dried, fill with an all purpose potting soil mix that has some sphagnum moss mixed in. Water this planting medium until you see moisture coming out the bottom of the container(s). Once this is done, you are ready to start propagating your angel wing begonia through cuttings.

Prior to making your first cut, you will need to sterilize your knife or cutting tool. This is easily done by either soaking the tool in bleach water or just wipe down the cutting surface with bleach or rubbing alcohol.

Next, look over your angel wing begonia and select healthy stems. Using your knife, take a four to five inch angle cut. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone. Place the cutting in a hole created in the planting medium using a pencil. After that is done, gently press the soil around the cutting. Repeat as needed for remaining cuttings.

Put your cuttings in a location that receives indirect sunlight. While the indirect exposure to the sun is important, a critical key to success is moisture. Monitor the soil moisture often with your finger and water when needed.

In several weeks, the cutting(s) will have developed roots. How can you tell? Well, all it takes is a little tug of the cutting. If you feel resistance then the cutting has rooted. At that point, you can upsize the container.

 

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How to Air Layer an Angel Wing Begonia

Written by Mindy on October 7th, 2017

While propagating an angel wing begonia can be done through tip or stem cuttings, it can also be achieved by way of air layering. This technique can be a little challenging for a beginning gardener but it is fun just to try your hand at this approach.

layer.angel.wing.begoniasTo begin the process, you will need to get a few supplies. This includes an angel wing begonia, toothpicks, rooting hormone, a small paint brush, sphagnum moss, plastic wrap, twist ties, and a small sterilized knife.  Once you have your supplies, you can begin the air layering process.

The first step to do is to examine your angel wing begonia. What you are looking for are healthy stems that are leggy. Once you have found them, make a cut halfway through the stem between two leaf nodes. A leaf node is the area by which the leaf attaches to the stem. Next, you will need to hold open the cut with a toothpick. Dip your small paint brush into your rooting hormone and brush the inside of the cut with it.

Once the cut is made, take some sphagnum moss and moisten it with water. You want it evenly moist so that it sticks together but not dripping wet. Take the moistened sphagnum moss and place it around the cut. Your goal in this step is to make a four to six inch ball of sphagnum moss that surrounds the cut. After that has been achieved, take the plastic wrap and wrap it around the ball. Using the twist ties, secure the bottom and the top of the plastic wrap to the stem. When doing this step, make sure that the twist ties are tight enough to hold the sphagnum moss ball in place but not so tight that it cuts the stem.

After this last step has been completed, you have now experienced air layering. To keep tabs on the progression of your cutting, loosen up the plastic wrap once a week and mist with water if the sphagnum moss feels dry.

This type of propagation will take a few weeks to take root. Once roots appear, simply cut below the roots and pot up.

While this propagation technique may seem a little advanced for a simple angel wing begonia, there are some advantages compared to a stem cutting. First, the cutting continues to get support from the mother plant compared to a severed cutting like a stem or tip cut. Second, while leggy stems are not always the best choice for a stem or tip cutting, they are useable for air layering. Finally, giving this propagation technique a try improves ones gardening skills.

 

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Plant Diseases of Angel Wing Begonias

Written by Mindy on October 2nd, 2017

Plant diseases of angel wing begonias are normally rare; there are two that stand out. Both of these are caused by excessive moisture. Do not despair though; the prevention is simple while the treatment can be a challenge.

diseases.of.angel.wing.begoniasAngel wing begonias are noted to be sensitive to moisture. You either have too little or too much. A plant that receives too little moisture will be droopy, and the leaves will begin to dry up. The solution to this problem is simple-water the plant. On the other hand, if you have too much moisture you can develop a powdery mildew problem and/or rot.

Powdery mildew is a fungal problem caused by excessive moisture. How do you know if you have this plant disease? Well, take a look at the plant. If you see a white or gray powdery coating on the leaves, stems, and/or flowers then you have a powdery mildew problem. While there are chemical treatments for this plant disease, there is a very strong chance that it will do nothing. The best approach if this problem is discovered is to simply pull the plant up and throw it away. Do not compost. This will just spread the plant disease. But what is one to do? The answer is basic and starts off at the beginning.

When planting your angel wing begonia make sure that you space the plants out enough. This means that you need three to five inches between plants planted in a landscape. If you are growing the angel wing begonia as a container garden, make sure that you do not crowd the plant. Depending on the size of the container, you may only have room for the begonia or up to only three plants.

The second thing you can do to prevent this plant disease is to only water with the top inches of the soil is dry. While you can purchase a tool to read soil moisture, why would you when you have all you need and the end of your hand. Yes, it said at the end of your hand. What am I talking about? Well, your fingers. All you need to do to use this technique is to push your index finger into the soil and pull straight up. If it comes out clean then you need to water. On the other hand, if it comes out with damp soil then you can skip watering.

The second plant disease that angel wing begonias can suffer from is rot. Really the name says it all. The stems of the plant will look mushy and waterlogged. If you pulled the plant up, you would notice the same thing with the roots. The cause of the plant disease is overwatering and the solution again is to check the soil before you water. But, if you plant already shows signs, save time and pull it up. It is cheaper to go buy a new plant then spend money on a chemical treatment that chances are will not work.

 

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Tips for Propagating Rose Balsam

Written by Mindy on September 28th, 2017

Rose balsam is a close cousin to the bedding impatiens one may be familiar with in container gardens. The flowers are cup shaped in colors that include red, pink, purple, and white. They also can be single or double in nature when it comes to petal arrangement. The blooms themselves can be found on the end of the stems, which can grow from one foot to two and half feet.

rose.balsamWhen it comes to using this annual, make sure that you place your plants in light shade to full sun in cooler climates. In areas that have hot summers, pick shady areas for placement.

While this plant looks beautiful filling a flowerbed, it can also be used in a landscape design as a middle plant in a border.

Propagating the rose balsam is through seed. To begin this process, one will need to count back four to six weeks prior to your local frost free date. The date you come up with is the soonest you can plant your seed. But prior to pulling out the seed packet, you will need to prepare the container.

The first step in this process is to clean and sterilize the pot or flat. While you may decide to skip this step since this flower is an annual, do not. It does not take that much time and if you are going to start seeds why not do it correctly.

Container sterilization is easy. Simply fill a basin with water and a capful of bleach. Place your container in the water and soak for a few minutes. Remove and soil or hard water stains. Rinse in clear water. When it comes to drying the container, just let it sit in the sun. This exposure to sunlight will sterilize the container even more.

Once the container is dry, fill with a dampened all purpose potting soil mix. Gently tap the container on a hard surface to settle the soil and remove any air pockets. Now, you are ready to plant your seeds.

Rose balsam seeds are small. In doing so, you only need to sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface and top them with a dusting of soil. After all the seeds have been planted, mist the soil with water and cover with clear plastic wrap. Place in a warm location away from direct sunlight.

In 8 to 10 days, you should begin to see little green dots of growth. This is an indication that your seeds have germinated. Once that has happened, remove the plastic wrap. Monitor the soil moisture and water when needed.

A week prior to your local frost free date, harden off your seedlings by gradually exposing them to the outdoor environment. Only after they have been outside for 24 hours should you plant them in the garden.

 

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A Guide to Growing Danesblood

Written by Stephanie on September 9th, 2017

Danesblood (Campanula glomerata) is also known as clustered bellflower.  It is native to Europe and Great Britain.  Danesblood is an erect, unbranched, hairy perennial.  It grows between four and thirty-six inches high.  The lower leaves are long stemmed.  The upper leaves are narrower and clasp part of the stem.  The flowers are funnel shaped and on the ends of the stems.  They are deep blue to purple.  Danesblood blooms all summer.  They are hardy in zones three to eight.

Danesblood is so named because it is said to grow up after a battle everywhere that a Dane’s blood was spilt.  Another explanation for the name is that it is a strong purgative and gives people what is commonly referred to as “the Danes,” or diarrhea.

Danesblood prefers full sun but in hot climates needs afternoon shade to protect it from getting too hot.  It requires a moist alkaline soil.  Danesblood is aggressive about multiplying.  It spreads more rapidly in fertile soil than in poor soil.

When blooms are spent, deadhead them.  This will prolong blooming.  When blooming is finished, prune the stems that had blooms on them back to the basal leaves.  Leave the foliage to feed the plant through the fall and winter.  Cut the foliage back to the ground in early spring.

To propagate Danesblood, dig them up in the early fall.  Divide them and replant.  They need to be about three feet apart so they have room to spread out.  This helps prevent disease by encouraging air circulation.

Danesblood has problems with slugs and snails, vine weevils, spider mites, and aphids.  Slugs and snails can be killed by spreading bait for them.  Be sure and get iron based slug bait as it is much safer than the older copper based bait. Neem oil will take care of the vine weevils, spider mites, and aphids.  Make sure you completely cover the flowers, leaves (both sides), and the stems with the Neem oil to eradicate these pests.

Danesblood is also vulnerable to several diseases, including powdery mildew, rust, septoria leaf spot, ramularia leaf spot, and Southern blight.  Proper air circulation and watering early in the morning so the plant leaves are dry by dark will go a long way towards preventing most of these diseases.

Powdery mildew does not need a wet leaf to grow on.  It can thrive in hot, humid areas.  Spraying your plant with Neem Oil will kill powdery mildew.  Be sure and spray the tops and bottoms of each leaf.

Leaf spots are usually caused by fungi.  Copper containing fungicides will control these problems.  Copper containing fungicides may be permitted in organic gardening, depending on the particular fungicide.  These fungicides will not cure affected leaves, which should be removed and disposed of in the trash.  They will, however, prevent further infestations if used as a preventative.  These fungicides should be applied starting at the beginning of the growing season and every ten to fourteen days thereafter.

Danesblood is deer and rabbit resistant.  It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Danesblood makes wonderful cut flowers that can last up to two weeks in a vase.

 

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