Begonias for Summer

    • Dig gently to harvest potatoes, a few plants at a time, after foliage yellows and dries up.
    • Garlic should be harvested when the leafy tops turn yellow and fall over; air-dry bulbs, remove tops and store bulbs in a cool place.
    • Meyer lemons with their sweet-scented blossoms, are attractive and easy to grow. Plant one in a container so you can move it to a protected spot in the winter.
    • Fragrant star jasmine is in full bloom right now. Plant one in a semi-shaded spot where you can enjoy its lovely perfume.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool-season crops now. Transplant them to the garden next month and they will be producing for you this fall.

Begonias for Summer

As the warm days of summer begin to arrive, begonias really come into their own. There are many different kinds of begonias, but the bedding begonias like the long, warm days of summer and show off their beautiful, waxy foliage and colorful flowers now. Used in containers, hanging baskets and bedding schemes, begonias provide continuous color throughout the summer. They are easy to care for and all grow well in partial shade.

Sometimes called wax begonias, they feature thick, waxy leaves with 1-inch-diameter round flowers. Foliage comes in either green or bronzy-red and the flowers can be white, pink, rose or red. The rounded plants grow to a height of 6-8 inches and are covered with flower blooms from May to September. The taller Encore begonias grow to 12 inches and have larger, 2-inch flowers. There are also varieties with double flowers that resemble fat little rosebuds and others with variegated foliage. The bronze-leaved begonias are better suited to full sun locations.

Wax begonias are nice in large, formal plantings because of their uniform size and compact form. They also make a good border and combine well with other cool-colored flowers in mixed plantings and containers.

Dragon wing begonias are large and bold. Their flowers grow in loose clusters of pink and red bell-like blooms, and bloom throughout summer. Glossy, dark green, wing-shaped leaves frame the flowers. These begonias are popular container plants, and they are often grown in hanging baskets in partial to full shade or filtered sun. They grow to 15 inches tall and somewhat wider.

Water begonias when the soil is dry to the touch. If grown in full sun, keep the soil moist. Fertilize them monthly with a balanced general fertilizer. They are easy to grow and generally pest-free.

The large-flowered tuberous begonias also come into their glory in the summer. Tuberous begonias can have upright or trailing growth forms and are suited to hanging baskets and other containers that provide excellent drainage so that their tubers do not rot. Hanging basket begonias are perfect for shady decks, patios, and balconies. They do best with plenty of filtered light but little or no direct hot sun.

Wax begonias are lovely in shady window boxes. They make a colorful statement and can be combined with coleus for more height and ivy or vinca for a trailing element.

Light up your shade garden with beautiful begonias!

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