Red Robin

“Red Robin”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

I haven’t seen any of our American robins yet this year.  They usually start showing up here in the coastal South around the end of February.  I thought that maybe with the warmer temperatures we have been having lately, they would arrive a little earlier than normal the way spring seems to be here so early.  But, so far, no robin redbreasts are to be seen.

There is, however, one red robin that seems to be putting out fresh, new leaves to mark the beginning of spring.  I am referring to the rex begonia, Harmony’s Red Robin.

 

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It has such rich, deep colors.   With its black center, brilliant red bands, dark border and iridescent quality,  this begonia is a real standout.  With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, isn’t this a perfectly colored plant for that special day?

Rex Begonias

This post, “Rex Begonias” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

My little white cat eats everything.  She eats plants.  All kinds of plants-real ones, silk ones, and even plastic ones.  So, consequently I do not have house plants.  I wish I could, but because of her, it is pointless to even try.

Since I do live in a mild climate, I grow many houseplants outside.  I’ll put them on the porch or under a tree to give them enough light but not too much.  One of my favorite plants to grow in a container is Rex Begonia.  I have no problem growing them outside under a large magnolia tree, even though we have such hot summers.  These begonias like high humidity, so maybe that is why they do well for me.  I do protect them if a freeze is predicted but for the most part they are out in all types of weather, even the mid thirties.

They are just starting to send out new, vibrant leaves.  I find they do get sort of raggedy by the end of the winter. It is normal for them to go into a sort of semi-dormancy in the wintertime.   I plan on repotting them in the next week or two in a well drained potting mix, and then I’ll give them a little fertilizer.

The first one I bought was Red Robin.  I put it in a shallow container with a red cyclamen and a small button fern.  I used this as a Valentine’s Day decoration a few years back.  It really looked nice.  The picture below shows Red Robin just starting to put out new leaves.  The whole plant seems to glow when light hits the leaves.

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After having success with this one, I soon was buying others.  I have tended to buy the celadon green ones that have purple in them.  They to just seem to glow in the sunlight.  This is one example, Corey Corwin, that is starting to show a new flush of growth.

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I think this might be the year I attempt to propagate some of these beauties.  I have been reading up on how to do this. I found out that besides the leaf cutting method, that some people have been successful with rooting a leaf in water (similar to African violets) and them potting up the leaf when the roots are about two inches long and then enclosing the pot in a plastic bag.  Both methods require high humidity either by misting or covering with a plastic bag.

Once the weather warms up a bit more, these begonias will be again be showing a stunning display.

Begonias

This post, “Begonias” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

Living in the hot, humid South, it is sometimes difficult to grow begonias.  Forget the tuberous ones. Unfortunately, they survive only as indoor plants and even then have a short life.  With our high rains and hot, humid temperatures, even wax leaf begonias often succumb to fungus diseases, or as I call it, “the rot.”

Three years ago, my mother gave me a hanging basket of variegated pink begonia for my birthday in March.  I have successfully overwintered it, and  it has survived our summers.  It even survived Hurricane Katrina & the lack of any care for about two weeks after.  I keep it hanging in a small tree on the north side of the house.  It receives about one hour of direct sun in late morning and filtered sun the rest of the day.  I have found that many plants that can take more sun in the North need to have a lot less down here.  I do fertilize about once a month starting in late March.  And, of course, I water it daily in the summer.  If temperatures get into the mid to high 90’s, I usually water twice a day.  I am planning on trying to propagate some of the long stems that are hanging down.  I have read that to do this, there needs to be at least two leaf nodes below the soil.  If I am successful, I will start another basket.  So I am looking forward to another year with this plant. 

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Last spring I planted three white wax leaf begonias in a container.  I placed these in the white garden that I started in memory of my father.  At first the begonias did not do well.  I think it was too chilly and damp, but they did survive.  Finally, they seemed to do better as the summer went on.  This fall they really put on a show.  They, too, have overwintered and will do better this spring.  At least I have my fingers crossed that they will. 

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In the past when I have tried wax leaf begonias, they did not do well at all, and I became discouraged with this plant.  But, now, with the success I have had with these two, I think I may try to plant some in the garden this year.

I have had great success with Rex begonias and the angel wing ones, and when I have some pictures of those I will post them.