Most of us have a shady spot on our property where flowers don't seem to grow. This year you should try tuberous begonia as they are the largest and showiest of the shade loving, mid-summer flowering bulbs. Begonias were named for Michel Begon, patron of botany and one time governor of French Canada. Even though native to warm regions, Begon's work with the begonia has made this beautiful flower adapt to our climate. Begonias are diverse with many different types of flowers, some resembling double hollyhocks, roses, carnations, camellias and daffodils. The colors of tuberous begonias are truly spectacular, ranging from white to pink, rose, red and scarlet. If you prefer light colors there are yellows, gold salmon and orange to choose from. The tuberose begonia is not strictly a ground planted bulb. It can be planted in window boxes, planters and hanging baskets. Look for these varieties at your local garden center: DOUBLE FLOWERING BEGONIAS Many colors, strong upright stems that support many large flowers up to 3 inches in diameter. Growing 15 to 24 inches tall with many large, shiny sawtooth leaves. Good for borders, planters and display gardens.

CAMELLIA FLOWERING BEGONIAS Many colors, very strong and upright growing 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall. Flowers are large, 3 inches or more in diameter and the foliage is shiny and eye catching. Plant in borders and planters away from windy locations. Flowers also come in two-tone color.

CARNATION FLOWERING BEGONLA Many clear colors with ruffled flower petals resembling carnations. The plant is strong, growing usually under 12 inches tall but bushy and covered with flowers all year. The foliage is shiny and eye-catching. You can plant this variety in borders, planters and window boxes.

PENDULA FLOWERING BEGONIAS These flowers come in a limited color range but if you are looking for a spectacular non-stop flowering plant for hanging baskets, this is the plant for you! Many small stems are produced that will drop over the sides of the pot, covering it with flowers all summer long. Flowers are 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter usually in clusters on the plant. They can be used in window boxes and planters.

MULTIFLORA MAXIMA BEGONIAS Low, growing usually under 12 inches tall with small flowers 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The colors are many and intense. The over-all shape resembles the Reiger begonia used as a house plant. Use this begonia in planters, window boxes and in low borders.

CRISPA MARGINATA BEGONIA These plants are unique because of the unusual flower, single petals in shades of white or orange edged in red. The flower is ruffled and very delicate looking, truly spectacular in the begonia family. Plant in window boxes or low borders as it grows only 8 to 10 inches tall.

B e g o n i a s should be started indoors at this time of year so you can force them to flower in the summer. Plant the bulbs in six inch pots in a warm room if possible. Begonias need heat to root properly and bottom heat is very beneficial. Do not however, place them on a radiator as it will cook the bulbs. When planting, cover the bulbs with two inches of soil - no deeper as this is a shallow growing bulb. Your soil mix is important and you can greatly improve the quality of this plant by adding 25% peat to your potting soil and 3 tbs. of dried cow manure per six inch pot. When planting the bulb, you will notice that it may be cup shaped - this part of the bulb should be facing up when planted. Water carefully as this shaped bulb will hold excess water and could rot. Water around the edges rather than directly over the bulb. Fertilize once the bulb sprouts with a 20-20-20 fertilizer every other week all year long for best results. While in the house, keep the plant in full sun so it will not stretch too far. When planting outside, add another 3 tbs. of manure and extra peat to keep the soil rich.

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