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Some of the growers’ fields which provide many of the begonias Holland Bulb Farms sells.

Tired of Winter? Start Spring Early with Indoor Forcing!

So the cookies have all been eaten, the Christmas tree is at the curb, and the stockings are no longer hung. Yet even though the holidays are over, the winter “duldrums” are plentiful: you’re still zipping up your bulky coat before leaving the house, you barely make it home before the sun has set, and your shovel hasn’t seen much of a break. So what now?

It is easy at this time of year to feel somewhat hopeless about the outdoors and wish that you could hibernate like the bears do. So why not start your gardening early? Most summer-blooming bulbs are great for forcing indoors, even before the ground has thawed! Not only will starting your plants indoors boost your mood and add some color to the bleak winter, but it will also give your plants a head start for the summer season. Come springtime, you’ll have the most vigorous plants in the neighborhood!

Starting Begonias Indoors

Today, I figured I’d explain the steps to starting your begonias indoors for fuller, more vigorous growth. Begonias are a great bulb to experiment with if this is your first shot at forcing since they are one of the most successful to begin indoors. Begonias also tend to be quite popular, due to their brilliant colors and ability to grow in shady areas (not to mention the namesake of my four-legged gardening buddy đŸ™‚ ) . Simply perform the following steps and you’ll be well on your way to having gorgeous begonias!

White double begonias in the grower's greenhouse.

White double begonias in the grower’s greenhouse.

ITEMS YOU WILL NEED:

  • Begonia tubers
  • Well-drained soil
  • Seed trays or small pots
  • Paper or plastic wrap
  • General plant fertilizer
  • Water

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Fill the seed trays or small pots with soil.
  2. In late February or March, plant the tubers (hollow side up) just below the soil level. Soil should be somewhat moist.
  3. Cover with paper or plastic wrap and place on a window sill or other location with indirect maximum light. Temperature should not fall below 60°F.
  4. Water sparingly until growth begins (may take up to 5-6 weeks to see growth above ground although roots have started).
  5. Once shoots emerge from the soil, remove paper or plastic wrap and begin watering regularly. An application of a good liquid plant food will improve growth.
  6. Once substantial growth has formed and leaves have begun to appear, transplant plants to outside container or garden.

It’s that simple! When picking a location outdoors for your begonias, remember that they thrive in semi-shade so avoid areas which receive direct midday sun. Begonias also dislike dry conditions, so be sure to water generously, especially during periods of hot weather. As with most plants, an application of well-balanced plant food every two to three weeks will encourage healthy, vigorous growth. Just remove dead, wilted leaves and flowers and you’ll have begonia blooms all summer!

The new ‘Sunrise’ Scentiment Begonia!

One more quick note: People are always asking me about where to purchase the newly developed fragrant begonias. One of the only places I have found them is at www.hollandbulbfarms.com. These are referred to as Scentiment® Begonias and grow with a fresh, lemony scent!

Help yourself out this year by bringing spring into your home early! And say goodbye to the winter duldrums! Good luck!

Until next time,

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Like this article? Want to learn more about indoor forcing other types of bulbs? Email Bridget at bridget@bulbblog.com!