This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Among the many favorites of our plant houses, few are more deserving of attention than the Fuchsia-likeWegonia. Its graceful habit, the brilliant color of the flowers, the short time required to have plants in a blooming state, render it worthy of universal cultivation. To those with whom winter flowering plants are in demand, this Begonia will be found indispensable, and when well grown and bloomed it cannot fail to be generally admired.
I aim at having the plant in flower the whole, or at least the greater part of the year; and to secure this, it is necessary to propagate at two different seasons. In the first instance, cuttings are obtained in the beginning of February, selecting young healthy pieces, such as are not over full of sap, and which are rather firm; these strike freely, inserted rather thickly around the sides of 5-inch pots, and plunged in a close warm frame where the bottom heat is about 75° or 80 °. Any light sandy soil will answer. I generally use equal parts of silver-sand and leaf-mold, the latter passed through a fine sieve and thoroughly mixed with the sand. When the cuttings are well rooted, which will be the case in the course of a month, they should be potted singly in 5-inch pots, and replaced in the propagating frame, and if they can have the assistance of a gentle bottom heat all the better. When the pots become filled with roots, shift into 8-inch ones, and place the plants in a shady corner of the stove, or wherever it may be convenient, provided a temperature of from 60 ° to 65 o is maintained, and a moist atmosphere kept up;. but unless they occupy a shady situation, it will be necessary to screen them from the midday sun, as this species is rather impatient of bright sunshine and if thus exposed, it loses that fine glossy appearance which the foliage presents when in vigorous health.
When the pots become filled with roots, a little clear manure water will be beneficial; and they should be syringed with pure water, morning and evening. By the middle of June they will require a final shift into 18-inch pots, and should be encouraged to make vigorous growth. With regard to stopping, they merely require to have any over luxuriant shoot stopped, when it has attained the desired height, bo as to regulate the flow of the sap, and induce the formation of lateral branches, upon which the flowers are produced. The stronger shoots should be supported by neat stakes, and tied out, so as to accommodate the side shoots which are to produce the flowers. Managed in this way they form fine bushy plants, commence blooming in October, and continue in flower . till March, or even later, if kept in a temperature of 50 ° or 55 °.
A second lot of cuttings should be got in about the middle of July, and treated as the first, except that after the second shift, which they should receive in September, they may remain in 8-inch pots till February. During the winter they should occupy a situation near the glass, where the temperature may average from 50 ° to 60 °. Early in February a portion of the plants may be shifted into 18-inch pots, after which a slight increase of heat will be essential to their well doing; but when subjected to a high temperature at this early season, they should receive all the light that it is possible to give them. As the plants progress in growth, they mast receive attention in the way of stopping and tying, and when the pots become full of roots they should be watered frequently with clear manure. The remainder of the plants, if allowed to remain in their winter pots, and encouraged with a slight increase of temperature, will flower at an earlier period than those which occupy larger pots, or they may be left in a cool place until the middle of march, and then shifted to form a succession to those shifted in February.
This Begonia may be removed to a conservatory, when in flower, where it will continue to is treated something like an intermediate house, it will be necessary to place the plants in the warmest corner, and where they will not be exposed to currents of cold air; a situation where they can receive abundance of light, without being exposed to the direct rays of the midday sun, will be necessary, in order to have the flowers well colored. After the blooming season is oyer, the old specimens may be thrown away, to afford space for young plants, which bloom more freely and produce fine trusses.
The soil best suited for this Begonia in all its stages is equal parts turfy-loamy peat, and well decomposed cow or horse manure. The peat and loam should be carefully broken, and used in as rough a state as the size of the shift will allow; the dung should be carefully mixed with sharp sand previous to being mixed with the peat and loam; this tends to thoroughly separate any lumps, which otherwise would be sure to form a harbor for worms; the quantity of sand should be regulated according to the nature of the loam and peat, tough being added to secure perfect drainage, as this Begonia is somewhat impatient of stagnant moisture about its roots. Alpha, in Gardeners' Chronicle.