TWO POTS OF BEGONIA BOLIVIENSIS, the straight species behind the flashy ‘Bonfire’ cultivar that we’ve talked about so much this year, arrived by mail-order in May, theoretically for use in pots. But they sat like a pair of stones all spring, summer, and fall (like the one in the photo still does, except for that tiny new dot of green on the right side of the tuber). Dead, I wondered, or just recalcitrant?
Recalcitrant, to the max, apparently. Just plain uncooperative, and following a beat of their own.
Seven months after they arrived, on nearly the shortest day of the year with months of low light and cold ahead, they have risen.
Oh, perfect. Of course I have any number of ideal conditions to offer these late-sleeper: Will it be a radiator, my sleepyhead darlings, or a drafty windowsill? (Kidding. Both are certain death.)
The description on my friend Tony Avent’s Plant Delight Nursery website noted their lazybones dispositions: “These do not emerge from dormancy until June, so chill out.” And so I did. And then it was July, and October, and even December…but the tubers were firm, so I didn’t toss them. And then a little green bead appeared on each one, and from it (on one of them at least) a shoot. Perhaps the Plant Delights catalog needs editing:
“These do not emerge from dormancy until December, when it’s really chilly out.”
What follows is another adventure in heroic plant-husbandry, at attempt to keep these two alive despite it all. I did so want to see what parent the beautiful ‘Bonfire’ (below) arose from…and with luck, and stamina, perhaps I will.
Now lest this spawn a round of nursery-bashing, I will add this: Plant Delights is ace; no fault that the very live babies they shipped me decided to take a very long nap before saying hello. Maybe the shock of arriving so far north of the Mason-Dixon line just freaked them out. Or maybe they wanted me to have a refresher course in that ultimate of all gardener lessons: patience. Mission accomplished, Tony.