The illustrated guide to rooting begonia cuttings

 I’m going to need a lot of nice flowering plants. The Junior Service League garden tour is scheduled for April 28 and all of the urns and flower beds will have to look really good. I usually don’t even start the planting until the first of May because of the variable weather patterns in the North Georgia hills. Patsy’s going to love this.

I love dragon wing begonias for pots or flower beds

I love dragon wing begonias for pots or flower beds

I have access to a greenhouse, however. Due to health and other issues, I haven’t used the greenhouse for the last couple of years but when I found out about the garden tour last October, I decided to clean up the greenhouse and to save a lot of Dragon Wing begonias that would have ordinarily gone to the trash pile. As we changed out annual color last year, I saved a number of the begonias and potted them up to use this spring. Last week (march 7), they looked like this: (if you are following these instructions at home, you don’t need a greenhouse, just a warm, well-lit area)

begonias saved from last year

begonias saved from last year

The situation is multi-faceted. I need about thirty really nice plants to plant in the urns around the pools and at doorways. I also need quite a few smaller plants to use in extensive flower bed plantings. My strategy will be to get the plants ready in the greenhouse and to do the planting at the last minute. The job is to clean up and prune the existing plants so that they will grow out big and to make some new ones. The two jobs go well together. We start with some careful cutting.

Pruning and taking begonia cuttings.

Pruning and taking begonia cuttings.

I am cutting as a pruning process that will make the plant branch out and shape right, but I am also looking for just the right size of tips to root for new plants. A desirable tip will look like this:

begonia tip suitable for rooting

begonia tip suitable for rooting

To prepare the tip for rooting, pinch off any blooms and a lower leaf or two.

begonia tip prepared for cutting

begonia tip prepared for cutting

A rooting hormone is not a necessity, the cuttings will root without it, but using the hormone will provide quicker, healthier results. The main ingredient that I search the label for is “indole 3 butyric acid.” This is a growth hormone and it may be found in liquid or powdered formulations. I found it at a garden center.

rooting hormone gives good results

rooting hormone gives good results

We dip the cutting in the powder to coat the fresh cut end.

dip the cutting in the hormone powder and wiggle it around a bit.

dip the cutting in the hormone powder and wiggle it around a bit.

The cuttings are then stuck in moist potting soil. I used Hyponex moisture control potting soil this time, but any other high quality preparation will do. You can actually use clean sand and get really good results.

Stick the cuttings in a tray of high quality potting soil or clean sand

Stick the cuttings in a tray of high quality potting soil or clean sand

I like to use nursery flats to stick the cuttings in. I get 40 to 50 cuttings per tray. A flower pot will work well if you are only doing a few cuttings.

A nursery tray works best for cuttings, but a flower pot will do.

A nursery tray works best for cuttings, but a flower pot will do.

As we take cuttings for new plants, we also clean any old stems and bad leaves from the larger plants. I want to encourage the new spring growth to come from the bottom of the plant. This will give much better shape and durability.

cleaning and pruning last year's begonias

cleaning and pruning last year’s begonias

After sticking a number of cuttings in the rooting medium, I use a gentle spray of water to wash the soil in around the base of the plants and to wet the leaves.

water the cuttings to settle the soil and wet the leaves

water the cuttings to settle the soil and wet the leaves

.The cuttings are fully prepared at this time. They should be placed in a bright location-but not in full sun. I suggest misting the plants lightly once or twice a day. Be careful not to over water them, though. Misting works best in the morning. The leaves should be dry at night to reduce the incidence of fungal infections. The rooted cuttings should be ready for pots in two or three weeks.

The plants that we will grow out for specimens have now been totally cleaned and they look like this:

clean begonias ready to grow out for spring planting

clean begonias ready to grow out for spring planting

You can use this method for rooting cuttings with many different plants. Geraniums, begonias, impatiens, and many more plants will respond readily.

 I hope you enjoyed the article. I’ll bet you will also enjoy my novel

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

10 thoughts on “The illustrated guide to rooting begonia cuttings

  1. hello coz – this is great. We’ve had sleet, hail and snow flurries here in Ikoma Mt – yet – spring is on the way and there are flashes of bright pink and white plum blossoms along the roads. I have some old crippled begonias and geraniums that need attention – Thank You so much for this information. Please pass on my love to the family! Arigatou Gozaimassu – annie

  2. Thanks for this! I’ve never rooted begonias – in fact, I bought my first one this fall at a clearance price at the local nursery. It’s doing great now but I want to propagate it for spring and let it winter indoors, so I’m going to try a few cuttings in a pot and leave them outdoors (in a great spot, of course), and bring them in if they “take.” I’ve had success with rises so surely I can get something out of this wonderful and hearty plant! Love the pics and simple process you laid out. :-)

  3. Thank you very much for this very detailed explanation about how to prune begonias and root their little branches and the pictures you posted with it.

    I want to prune my begonias. It is my first time. I bought them last year. Do you suggest me to prune them about 5 cm high? Mine has grown many uneven branches.

    Here we are in spring and my dragon wing begonias have flowers at this moment. Can I cut them and plant them in another pot?.

    I am not sure if what I am doing is right. I water them twice per week, and every forth night I fertilize them.

  4. Pingback: Divide and Repot the Plants in Your Mother’s Day Hanging Baskets for Extra Quality and Quantity | Johntheplantman's stories, musings, and gardening.

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