Clever Gardening Technique
Make More Rex Begonias with Vein Cuttings
Rex begonias are houseplants that are valued not for their flowers, but for their large, elephant ear-shaped leaves that are colored in shades of bronze, silver, pink, red and green.To make more plants, cut off a single leaf, turn it upside down, and make six to eight small cut across the larger veins with a sharp knife. Then lay the leaf, right side up, on some moist potting mix, gently bend the stem of the leaf to insert its end into the soil, and use hairpins poked through the leaf at its edges to keep it in good contact with the soil. Cover the container loosely with a plastic bag and set it in a bright spot out of direct sun. In a few weeks you'll see little plantlets sprouting from the cuts. When they are a couple of inches high, open the bag gradually, then repot each baby plant in its own pot.
Now is a great time to catch up on the garden reading you didn't have time for when everything was growing and in need of attention! I use this downtime to delve into books that provide me with a deeper understanding of plants and the natural world. On my list for the coming months are Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners by James B. Nardi (University of Chicago Press, 2007); The Field Guide to Fields:Hidden Treasures of Meadows, Prairies and Pastures by Bill Laws (National Geographic, 2010) and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Collins, 2007). Let me also suggest these great reads: Insects and Gardens by Eric Grissell (Timber Press 2001), Ecology for Gardeners by Steven B. Carroll and Steven D. Salt (Timber Press, 2004) and Understanding Perennials: A New Look at an Old Favorite by William Cullina (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).