Back to Back Issues Page
Begonias and Impatiens
March 02, 2015

I love Chickadees.

We've said goodbye to the coldest February on record (where I live).

I know this holds true for many of you as well, while other regions experienced warmer than normal temperatures.

One good thing about the extreme cold, it pushed several storms into the deep south and up the eastern coast.

To my friends in the south, I hope you enjoy your taste of winter.

East coast, we had our Epic winter last year, you can have it this year.

Yolanda's strength is slowly returning (such as it is).

She still tires easily, and we have to remind her to use her left hand, otherwise it just hangs there limp.

Not that she ever had great movement since her brain injury, but now it's like she forgets the arm is there altogether.

Hidden damage, only now revealing itself.

Thank God she is still with us, however.

Even with the deep freeze of last week, it is a warm welcome to hear the Cardinals as they begin to sing love songs.

Bird romance is triggered by the growing length of daylight hours, not the temperatures outside.

What a welcome sound.

We say hello to March with a gentle reminder......

It is time to give your feeders and birdbaths a cleaning.

Now, I understand it is still mighty cold out there (for some of us), but you can still give your feeders a once over.

A good spray of rubbing alcohol will kill off any cooties that are hanging around.

This is important, especially now when more birds are visiting, and sickness and germs are more prevalent.

Rubbing alcohol sanitizes and evaporates without leaving any harmful residue.

Go ahead, give it a try.

(My fur kids, Ziggy the Toy Poodle, Akita is pictured below.)

This is also the time of year when gardeners begin to shake off the dust.

While some seeds require a longer time from planting to transplanting, most seeds require only 6 to 8 weeks from planting seeds to being garden ready.

My grow light is up and running, and seeds will be
planted over the next couple of weeks.

I will continue the short series on favorite, or popular annuals.

This week is 'Wax Begonias' and 'Impatiens walleriana'.


Begonia (Semperflorens Cultorum Group)

Common Name: begonia or Wax Begonia.

Tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11.

Native to India and other tropical countries in that part of the world.

The genus name Begonia, coined by 'Charles Plumier', a French patron of botany, and adopted by 'Linnaeus' in 1753, to honor 'Michel Bégon', a former governor of the French colony of San Domingo.

Wax begonia is an extremely popular garden annual

It is noted for its tolerance to hot and humid summers.

Wax begonia is an extremely popular garden annual.

It is a compact, bushy, mounded, fibrous-rooted plant that features fleshy stems, waxy dark green to bronze leaves and loose clusters (cymes) of single or double flowers in shades of white, pink or red plus bicolor versions.

Flowers reliably bloom throughout the growing season (no deadheading required), and benefits from regular water and feeding.

Begonias are easily grown in average to moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade.

They prefer sun dappled part shade and a good mulch in hot summer climates.

Bronze-leaved varieties are more tolerant of full sun.

Plants tolerate considerable shade, but are generally less floriferous.

Plants are best with consistent moisture throughout the growing season, but tolerate periods of drought due to their thick and waxy leaves which help minimize water loss in hot weather.

Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date, purchase starter plants or take cuttings from overwintered plants.

Propagation from seed can be difficult due to the small size of the seed, and seed should not be sown directly in the garden.

Set plants out after your last frost date.

Space plants well (8” for dwarfs and 12” for taller ones) to promote good air circulation and to reduce potential fungal disease problems.

Container plants may be cut back in fall and overwintered indoors a cool
location with reduced watering.

Plants are susceptible to bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew, blight and stem/crown rots (poor circulation and wet conditions).

Great in mass in beds or borders.

A low maintenance plant that I have enjoyed in years past.

Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)

Part of the Balsaminaceae family a herbaceous perennial in its native land in Tanzania and Mozambique in East Africa.

Flowers from June to frost in colors of pink, rose, red, lilac, purple, orange, white & bicolors.

Plant in part shade to full shade.

A low maintenance plant that has medium water requirements.

Plant as an annual.

Grow as bedding annuals, container plants or houseplants.

Easily grown in evenly moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade.

Although some varieties may be grown from seed started indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost date, numerous selections are available for purchase each year in a number of retail outlets ranging from nurseries to corner grocery stores.

Set out plants after your last frost date.

Pinch back stems of young plants to encourage branching and/or compact growth.

Impatiens (sometimes commonly called bizzy Lizzy) are one of the more popular annual bedding plants in North America.

For easy-to-grow, non-stop flowering in shady conditions, it has no equal.

It is a bushy, succulent-stemmed tender perennial (in its native land) that grows in a spreading mound to 6-24” tall depending on variety.

Impatiens have been extensively hybridized to produce a large number of cultivars featuring flowers in various shades of pink, rose, red, lilac, purple, orange, white and bicolor versions.

Showy, slender-spurred, five-petaled (some doubles are available) flowers (1- 2 1/4” wide) typically cover the plants with colorful bloom from spring to frost.

Single flowers have a distinctly flattened appearance.

Ovate to elliptic leaves (to 3” long) are light green to dark green, sometimes with a bronze-red cast.

Good air circulation is required, watch for slugs.

Great in mass plantings in shady beds, borders and woodland gardens.

A non invasive ground cover.

Edging along walks or paths.

Containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Houseplant.

Side Note:

Downy Mildew.

All varieties of Impatiens walleriana and any hybrid with I. walleriana in its background are susceptible to impatiens downy mildew.

Do not plant Impatiens walleriana or any hybrid containing I. walleriana in previously infected beds.

Oospores will allow the pathogen to survive from one season to the next (upto 5 years).

Infection in subsequent years is highly likely.

Alternative plants include coleus, caladium, begonia, and New Guinea impatiens (pictured).

There you have it.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Wisdom comes alone through suffering.

Aeschylus 525-456 BC

Now here lies the wisdom of God.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Thank You Jesus.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page