You can dig up the roots and Begonia tubers, clean them and store them in a cool, dark, dry place. But, you must complete the process carefully for optimal results.
How Can You Overwinter Begonias?
Begonias and their many varieties are beautiful flower choices outdoors in tropical climates, where they originated. Begonias can be kept indoors in cooler temperatures as houseplants or in greenhouses.
Named for French botanist Michel Begon, begonias are grown from tuberous roots. New buds appear at the base of an old stem, right where it joins the tuberous root.
Begonias can thrive in moist, cool, and slightly shaded areas. Flowering happens during long days, which is why you would consider overwintering the Begonia tubers.
Because this process is possible, you do not have to worry about discarding the tubers once the flowers die in cold weather. You can save them during the cold season and plant them again.
Take the Following Steps
Here you can see a simple breakdown of the steps you need to take to save your potted tuberous begonia tubers:
- Remove your plant from the pot before hard frosts.
- Cut back the top of the begonia plant, keeping the roots and soil undamaged.
- Keep the plant in a dry location, in a cool storage area, and allow the tubers to cure.
- After curing, remove soil and the stalks and roots. Place them in peat, sawdust, or other insulating material.
- Store the tubers in a dry, dark, cool location.
- Plant the tubers outdoors in late winter or early spring once all danger of frost passes.
However, these instructions require a little more detail, so you do not harm the plant or tubers in the process.
What You Need to Consider During the Overwintering Begonias Process
As is the case in all gardening processes, be sure to follow any instructions carefully. This is so you do not end up killing the plant or tubers and avoid other mishaps when overwintering your begonias.
You will need to make sure that you have a place to store the tubers after the weather has become cool. Make sure that you dig up the tubers before any extreme cold weather.
While digging the roots, take care not to cut them. Spading forks are great tools for this, as they are less likely to damage the roots.
Once you have dug up the tubers, clean them until they are free of excess soil. They must then dry in a dark, cool well ventilated place.
You also want to make sure that you keep any stems and leaves on the tubers until they dry and fall off. It may take anywhere from one week to three weeks for the stems to do this.
After the tubers are dry, you will need to place them over a layer of peat moss or sawdust in a container with packing material such as a cardboard box. The peat or sawdust and the cardboard box will help insulate the tubers and protect them from varying temperatures outside the box.
You’ll want to store the box in a location that is around 40° – 50° degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to cover the box as well to avoid any pests eating the tubers.
Once it is stored, you can keep the tubers in the location you have chosen until spring, but make sure they do not freeze.
Tips on Growing Begonias
What About Indoor Begonias?
Indoor begonias can be the first place to start for overwintering if you have them. For the most part, you can dig up your indoor begonias in the autumn after all the leaves have fallen.
You can use newspaper to spread out the remaining clumps (including roots and tubers, of course). If you leave them in a sunny area, they should dry efficiently enough in about a week.
Then, as with outdoor plants, you can remove the remaining foliage and clean or shake off any soil. You may also want to give them a dusting of sulfur powder to avoid mildew and fungus.
You can store the tubers for these begonias by lining them up in a layer on top of some newspaper or individually in paper bags before they go into a cardboard box. Then place them in a dry, cool, and dark location.
If you have a potted begonia plant in your home, you can keep the tubers and store them there, but the containers must remain dry. If your soil is still somewhat moist, you may have to go through the previous process anyway.
However, if the pot is dry enough, you can leave them in an upright or slightly tipped position in a similarly cool and dry area.
Once the warm weather returns after you’ve overwintered your begonia tubers, you can replant them. But you have to be sure to reacclimate the plants to the warm temperature.
With begonias grown outdoors, you want to water them frequently and move them back outside. Reduce their stress, and they’ll grow back beautifully.