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Blast them with begonias.

Blast them with begonias

Showoffs sporting flamboyant, brightlycolored flowers, tuberous begonias practically demand center stage in summer gardens. In pots, they can transform even a quiet corner into a kaleidoscope of color.

Pictured here are four ways to put bloomingbegonias in the spotlight. Mix or match flower colors, or combine single colors with plants of contrasting colors and textures. Whatever your plan, buy tubers this month in nurseries or by mail from specialty sources.

When to plant; how to plant

As soon as pink buds appear in the concavepart of a tuber--usually in February or March--plant tuber, with buds pointing up, in a container filled to within 1 1/2 inches of the top with fast-draining soil mix. Barely cover with potting mix, then soak with water. Don't water again until top of soil feels dry.

In warm-winter areas, start plants outdoorsin filtered shade. If the site you've chosen gets too much sun for young plants (like the garage wall pictured at left), start tubers in 8-inch flats or pots and transplant after they develop several leaves.

In cold climates, start tubers in a greenhouseor indoors in a cool, dry place. When leaves appear, place in bright, indirect light and keep at 65| to 70|. Move sprouted tubers outdoors when all danger of frost has passed.

Feed plants with a controlled-release fertilizeraccording to label directions; keep soil mix moist but not soggy. When plants lose foliage in fall, lift and store tubers until pink buds reappear in spring.

Photo: Bolted to garage wall, homemadeplastic-lined redwood planters hold brilliant upright and hanging basket begonias in Robert Diehl's Sebastopol, California, garden. Simple frame of dowels and lath keeps heavy flowers from flopping

Photo: Mounted to two sides of mailbox post in Anchorage,Alaska, flat-backed redwood containers overflow with begonias and lobelia outside house of Ann and Al Parrish. Such boxes--which can also be bolted to fences or walls--are available in nurseries

Photo: Edging a deck in MarinCounty, California, mixed begonias bloom in a built-in redwood planter resembling a window box. Bark-chip mulch keeps soil from drying out too fast. Container is in garden of Mrs. Iva Strouss

Photo: Lifted into viewon tree stumps of varying heights, pots of begonias, streptocarpus, and ferns produce a colorful tiered display in Ruth Kieswetter's Santa Barbara garden

Photo: Space two orthree tubers 4 to 6 inches apart in 12-inch pot. Top with 1/2 inch of soil mix
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1987
Words:402
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