The weather's been warming up here in New York, but we've still got a bit to go before we reach full spring bloom. If you've been yearning to get your gardening on ahead of the game, how about trying your hand at "forcing" begonias, or inducing them into blooming early? While it may seem like something that requires a serious green thumb, it's actually a snap using these handy and beautiful terrarium kits from Longfield Gardens. Read on for the DIY steps!
• Begonia tubers (make sure you use quality tubers that are firm and have no bruises)
• Potting soil or a potting mix
• Small pot, about 3-4″ in diameter
• Terrarrium dome
• Dish for the base
(All of these come as part of Longfield Gardens’ begonia terrarium kits)
Fill 2/3 of your pot with potting soil and drop in one begonia tuber with the hollow side up. Add an additional 1/2″ of soil over the top of the tuber. TIP: It’s a good idea to put your tuber in the soil at a slight angle to ensure that water doesn’t sit in the center of the tuber and cause it to rot. Then pop the terrarium dome over your pot and tuber.
Water your tuber sparingly until growth begins. The idea is that the terrarium will act as a greenhouse, retaining moisture and helping your begonia grow. You also want to make sure you place your begonia in a sunny location in your home. Even though begonias are shade plants, when they are getting started they need a little more sun.
Depending on the temperature of your home (best temps for starting begonias ranges from 65-75 degrees F), you will see sprouts in around 10-12 days. This can vary, so just be patient. When your begonia sprouts to the size of the pot on the right (above), remove the terrarium. It may take 5 to 6 weeks to see significant growth above the soil line. Water when the soil is dry to the touch.
After your begonia starts looking like the one above, you can transplant it into a larger container or outside (make sure the weather has warmed up and the danger of frost has passed). If you do move your begonias outside, choose a part shade location that doesn’t get too much hot, midday sun. Morning or late afternoon sun is best. Water when the soil is dry to the touch and be sure to check more often during dry, hot weather. Removing spent blooms and wilted leaves will encourage your begonia to bloom longer and prolong its beauty.
If you want to give your begonia a little boost, you can add some slow release fertilizer, or fertilize with all purpose liquid fertilizer once a month. And don’t forget to reuse your terrarium in other projects around your home or to help other plants get started.