Can I save frost-killed tuberous begonias?

linnea56(z5 IL)October 13, 2009

We had frost Sunday night, at least 2 weeks earlier than normal. I have numerous tuberous begonias in hanging baskets and pots. They now have limp and soft leaves and stems. Most still have some healthy leaves below but not all. It was not a hard frost: just enough to zap the tenderest plants like the dahlias, begonias, and callas. Most are the large leafed hairy kind (not Rex, just tuberous) but one is an angel wing.

Can I still save the begonia tubers? Last year I brought them in about this time in October, waited for them to decline, stopped watering, then dug up the tubers after the stems dropped off. I had really good luck, for the first time. Should I do the same now? (Though this time there will be no waiting for their decline!) Or will the shock have killed them? Thanks!

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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

Should be no problem. Withhold water to force them into total dormancy and then treat as you would a new tuber. You may lose a bit of tuber size cutting them off abruptly but they ought to survive.

George

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 9:00AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks! The soil in the pots is damp because it was raining when we brought them in. But I wonÂt water any more. Hope they donÂt rot first. I have waited a few days to see if they perk up, but for most of them, the leaves are mushy, transparent, and limp.

Should I wait for the soil to dry out naturally before digging?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 9:33PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

In each pot now, about half are blooming and looking fine, and half have the tops dead. I may have to dig up half at a time! I have not watered, but pots are STILL damp from when I brought them in. Better to wait until all have declined?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 12:23PM
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calistoga_al

Yes, just continue as you have in the past, not watering and allowing them to die back. The tubers will normally increase in size a little every year. I never plant or water mine in the spring until the buds are growing. This will usually avoid the chance of rotting. Al

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 9:40AM
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