Pacific Northwest

August, 2014
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Tuberous Begonias
Everyone knows begonias -- those friendly little bedding plants found in so many shade gardens. But tuberous begonias are entirely different. Instead of delicate sprays of small, single flowers, they have very large, showy blossoms in an array of bright colors. There are two main forms of tuberous begonias: upright and pendulous. Upright types bear their flowers on strong, vertical stems, making the plants perfect for shady borders. Pendulous types (also called cascading or hanging basket begonias) have weaker stems that hang delicately over the sides of pots or baskets. Tuberous begonias are available in every color except blue, and many have crinkled and ruffled petals. They bloom from July through November in our gardening zone, and thrive in well-drained, barely acidic, rich, organic soil. To keep plants from year to year, after the first light frost hits the foliage, dig up the plants with the soil still clinging to the roots and let them dry in a cool spot. Once the tops have dried and the stems break off easily, brush the soil off the tubers and let it dry for a few more days. Store the dry tubers in dry peat moss in a cool, dry spot that remains above freezing. Start tubers indoors again in late winter.

Clever Gardening Technique

Build a Wasp Trap
Although wasps are beneficial in the garden, they can be real pests at picnics. Here's a wasp trap to build. Use an old jar with a screw top lid, drill a 1/2-inch hole in the center of the lid and two smaller holes near the edges for string to hang the trap. A 3-foot-long piece of yarn or string poked through the outside and knotted on the inside of the lid makes a good hanger. Bait the trap with raw hamburger, screw the top on tightly, and hang it from a tree branch at least 20 feet away from your picnic site. The hole in the top allows insects to enter, but it's difficult for them to escape. At the end of the day, unscrew the lid and allow the wasps to fly away.

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