Nov 15, 2018
Top-Performing Basket BegoniasBy Jasmina Dolce

As you’re well aware, advancements in begonia breeding have been explosive in recent years. Breeders have been expanding all the major classes, including semperflorens, tuberosa, boliviensis, hiemalis, masoniana, rhizomatous, rex and hybrids.

This summer, GPN contributor and industry consultant, Vaughn Fletcher, attended and reported on the hanging basket begonia trial at Metrolina Greenhouses in North Carolina. He observed over 60 different varieties total and selected some of the top-performing varieties based on vigor, habit, foliage quality, floriferousness and color stability.

“Begonia breeding has overcome many of the earlier drawbacks, including premature flower drop, small and downward facing flowers, production challenges and shipping issues,” Fletcher says.

He adds, “The new seed and vegetative introductions are distinctive and audacious with improved habits, durability, unique flower forms and exciting colors.”

To read Fletcher’s full report, click here. For now, here are a few of his top picks.

‘I’Conia Portofino Sunrise’
Dümmen Orange

The I’Conia Portofino series includes six colors, and Sunrise was the standout with large, vibrant flowers. The series is characterized by rich color saturation, double flowers, excellent branching, dark foliage, heat tolerance and uniformity. It also attracted a great deal of attention at the California Spring Trials.

‘Rise Up Flamingo’s Dream’

Westhoff introduced the Rise Up and Shine Bright series in 2017. The Rise Up series is comprised of 10 colors of singles and doubles with excellent stacked branching and medium-sized, upward-facing flowers. Flamingo’s Dream has a very unusual double flower structure with a ruffled yellow blush center and unique coral-pink flowers.

‘Frivola Pink’

Part of the Dreams collection, ‘Frivola Pink’ boasts double flowers with a dark ruffled center and lighter pink outer petals. The entire collection has distinctive and bright flowers that set it apart, and garden performance has been outstanding.

‘Bossa Nova Yellow’

This boliviensis seed series was introduced in 2014, and we now have nine colors and a formula mix. Bossa Nova varieties feature short internodes, bell-shaped flowers, excellent branching and a cascading habit. It is extremely heat tolerant and can be used in full sun or partial shade. Yellow was especially vibrant and floriferous with a tight, mounded canopy.

‘Unstoppable Upright Fire’
Dümmen Orange

The foliage and flower presentation on this variety are significant with an upright mounded habit, dark green foliage transitioning to a deep bronze, light green veins and abundant striking large single flowers. The series of three colors has applications in quarts, mixed containers and baskets.

‘Funky Pink’

This stand-alone interspecific cross was introduced two years ago, and it combines large bright flowers with excellent heat tolerance. It has single and double flowers transitioning from pink to deep rose and a tight cascading habit. It is best utilized in morning sun and afternoon shade.

Have begonias been a big seller for you over the past few seasons? Has their popularity grown? What are some of your most requested begonia varieties? Shoot me an email and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

— Jasmina

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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