In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
May, 2006
Regional Report

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2119

Given time and tending, a 4-inch cutting of this scarlet begonia has turned into a stunning specimen.

Container Glory

Like potato chips, nobody can have just one container plant. Large and small, fancy and plain, once you get this bug, you'll want it to multiply. The first plant ever given to me was a red wax-leaf begonia, and it must have been a tough cookie. Eight-year-olds are not great at routine chores, but it got watered enough to bloom all summer.

When a piece broke off, Mama told me to put it in water. To my amazement, it rooted, and I've been taking cuttings ever since. A favorite pot of scarlet dragon wing begonias grew much the same way, and that's the great pleasure of container growing. What began as a 4-inch pot with three stems now boasts at least 10.

To get this bounty, put a 4-inch dragon wing into a 12-inch pot and let it grow. Take cuttings each time there are four new leaves, but you can skip the water and root them right in the pot.

Standing Up and Hanging Down
While the begonia can grow in any kind of pot, other plants, like the striped airplane (or spider) plant will fare better in a hanging basket. The airplane's long flower stems can trail 2 feet or more, climaxing in baby plants that you can leave in place or pot up. Hanging baskets are suitable for trailing plants like airplane and ivies, but also those that need excellent air circulation like Crossandra and string of pearls (sedum).

Watering Tips
Once you take the mystery out of watering container plants, their care is the simplest routine in the gardening world. Clay pots need watering more often than plastic pots of comparable size, because they evaporate water through their sides. This is an advantage if you have a tendency to overwater, and many people just like the look, feel, and weight of clay pots.

No matter which you choose, water the same way: soak the pots so water runs out the drain hole, then refill the "head space" between the soil and top of the pot. Don't let water stand in saucers after it has run through the pot!


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