Caring for a Tuberous Begonia Q: I was given a tuberous begonia, which is beautiful, but I don't know how to care for it. Should it rest for a while after the blossoms go by?
Anna from Maine
In the summer, tuberous begonias appreciate consistently moist (not wet) well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Over-watering can cause stems to rot off at the base and can make plants susceptible to powdery mildew. Tuberous begonias do best when located in light shade positioned so plants get plenty of air circulation. Fertilize them once a month with a balanced fertilizer and remove spent blooms. After your tuberous begonia spends the season producing beautiful flowers for you, it will need to rest. If potted, bring it indoors before the frost and let it die off naturally. When stems become brittle, dig out the tubers and dry them in a sunny window for 3-4 days until skins harden. Place them in sand or peat moss and store them in a cool, dry place at temperatures of 45-50 degrees). A month before you expect to replant them outside, place tubers in small pots and bring them into warmer temperatures until they sprout.
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The main thing I know about this type of begonia is that the tuber will rot if it gets too wet. The best way to water them is to put a saucer under the pot (preferably a terra cotta pot) and put the water into the saucer. The plant will drink the water from the bottom up, and that way, you won't over water it, and the tuber won't rot. I have always been under the impression that certain types of begonias can be made to continue blooming. I would feed it with a good plant food every several months. I prefer the longer acting kind. I would also continue to water it even when it isn't blooming. Just because it isn't blooming doesn't mean that the foliage and roots don't continue to need the nourishment. The flowers on these begonias are gorgeous, and look like little roses. If you care for it well, you can keep it growing for a very long time. As it gets larger, the roots will probably start to take over the pot, so you will probably need to consider repotting it in a year or two. I recommend repotting it when it is not blooming, so that you don't stress the plant at that critical time. I also recommend giving it plant food when you repot it. Good Luck. I envy you! I love tuberous begonias!
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