too late to plant begonias and iris

ginjjJanuary 1, 2011

Is it too late to plant Iris "Sibirica Caesars Brother"

and begonia bulbs. I am hoping they would bloom this spring. I know the best time to plant them is in the fall. I just bought these at a big box store.



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Plant your Iris siberica now in your zone. They like lots of summer water so be careful where you plant them. Do you have tuberous begonia tubers? If so I would wait for the growth buds to appear before planting. These will rot very readily if the tuber is in wet soil before the growth begins. I am always careful to not plant too deep, just barely under the soil. Be sure soil is well drained. Al

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 8:34AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Seriously eyeball those begonia tubers if you bought them at the end of the season.

If they were in baggies, maybe with a covering of sawdust or similar - they could be past their use-by date already.

If you bought them in a punnet, and they still have remnant stalks, plant them on into small pots - one size larger. Put them out of the way of any frosts greater than 1 degree.

Around Easter (I'm guessing) start checking for the little pinkish buds as they emerge.

When the leaves are early-out - pot them on into a fresh and richer mix and start feeding them weakly-weekly. Protect against late frosts. Pot on as they start gaining size - or plant out into the garden once the frosts have finished.

If you are zone 9a or higher you can leave them in the garden without lifting them. Just mark them so the tubers don't get stabbed while you're weeding. And feed them with a side dressing of new compost plus fertiliser each spring.

If you leave them dry over winter they are slow to start up. First up are the tubers over-wintered in their original potting mix; then the inground tubers, with the cleaned and kept dry tubers last. (That's how I find it in this zone - 9a.)

They often start flowering in early summer more than spring, but could be earlier in a higher zone than mine.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 6:12PM
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The bulbs appear to be tuberous begonias. I just did more reading and see that they are summer bloomers, not spring. I'll hold on to them anyway as I always admire them when they are blooming. I'll see if I can keep them alive following the guidance you two gave.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 11:04PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Apologies. I should have said. If they are still in leaf, or down to their last stalks DON'T try to keep them going. They just won't. Let them go dormant naturally. Clean away the old stems so they don't go mouldy and let the potting mix just dry out slowly, but add no water.

I usually park them on the verandah out of the rain and frost but where it still gets pretty chilly overnight, and they're fine.

Young tubers can be a bit touch and go for wintering over if they missed out on a decent growing season. You might lose one or two. You'll likely know that because they feel 'light' in spring and seem a little wizened. If you break one open it is often orange or brown inside instead of creamy. Rotten ones 'give' under pressure. Good ones feel firm like a Cyclamen tuber.

On the other hand, don't quit on them too early. Most of mine are up now; some are booming away with flowers (and they get better by the second year, BTW) - and one little struggler has just arrived at two leaves.

If you accidently knock off the first sprouts - hold on. There's a good chance they'll produce more.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 4:45AM
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