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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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Making Begonias Thrive.

I want my begonias to thrive. However I've been having some troubles with the ones I've had shipped over to me. I have one begonia that I purchased at a local home depot and it is doing absolutely wonderful outside on my patio. But the ones I've received online don't seem to be doing very well at all. They are much younger plants then the one I purchased from home depot and I feel they are struggling to thrive. Instead of growing new branches they wilt away one by one. I'm not completely sure what I am doing wrong to make them this way. I feel its been long enough since they move that they should be growing and improving in health by now. I don't water them very often because they tend to get worse if I water them to much + they are inside because last time I put one outside it freaked out and completely wilted. I am at my wits end with begonias even though I love them so much I feel that it shouldnt be a struggle just to keep them from not wilting. It is also frustrating because when I look up begonias online everyone says that begonias are extremely hardy. How is it possible that I am able to weaken or kill the most hardy of plants yet have the ability to keep the more fragile plants alive? :roll:

I guess I just need as much advice on how to make a begonia thrive as much as possible because I am ready for them to be able to fend for themselves.
Confusion at its Finest :D
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lorax
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Everything I've been able to grow begonia-wise (and they're native plants here - they're from rainforest and cloud-forest understory areas) has absolutely thrived on being neglected.

I'd find a bright shade area of the house, put them there, and basically flat out ignore them other than watering once a week or so and occasionally checking for pests.

I'd also check your soil. Begonias love fast drainage, and you might need to add a bunch more coir or peat to the mix to keep them from feeling wet-feety.

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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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ah ha! I bet that is what it is, the soil! (well maybe lol) right now one is in a forest mix sorta woody heavy bark type soil. The other is in a vermiculite/regular potting soil.

I thought that peat and coir cause/attract fungus (at least I read that somewhere) I also thought peat held alot of water. When I think of fast draining soil I think 100% perlite or 100% Orchid bark.

Right now I have them in my bathroom which isn't exactly a "high light" area. It has one small sky light. I've just been worried to move them near the kitchen due to the fungus gnat infestation I'm battling atm.

I think the fungus gnats are loving the forest soil I've been using for my plants. I may need to completely replant all of my plants in some fungus resistant soil just to get rid of the darn things ( know of any fungus resistant soil?)... Its not like there are any adults around that I can see just a bunch of the little crawling ones.

Another common problem i've found is that plants hate being repotted... which is understandable they aren't exactly meant to move around alot but each time I repot I fear that I am making them worse off. Especially if I have to rinse of their roots with water to get off the excess soil for one reason or another. Do you have any advise for repotting? Especially since I will have to put my already unhealthy begonias into a better soil without completely killing them.

I know all these topics are all burred into one post but I really couldn't see myself breaking them up into individual posts to get them answered since they are all dealing with my Begonias Thriving.
Confusion at its Finest :D
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Kisal
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I've been growing plants in containers since the 1950s, and the only time I have ever washed the soil off the roots is when I'm preparing to root-prune. (And most of the time, I even root-prune without first removing the soil.) Soil removal is really more of a bonsai technique, IMO, and is not necessary for ordinary plants. It's done as a way of adding fresh soil to a plant that has been in the same soil for several years, and the plant is being pruned, both top and roots, in order to be kept in the same size of container.

Other than that, I consider washing the soil off the roots to be a "last-ditch-effort" maneuver to salvage a plant that is dying, usually from root rot caused by overwatering. Fungus gnats are a symptom of overwatering, so my recommendation to you would be to ease off on the frequency of the watering a bit. Removing the soil from the roots is extremely rough on a plant.

When its time to repot, treat the root ball very gently. Put enough soil in the bottom of the new pot, so that the surface of the old soil will be the same level in the new pot. You do not want to add new soil on top of the old soil surface, only underneath and around the sides. (While soil is occasionally "topped off", it is not standard procedure. Like root washing, it has a specific purpose, and is usually associated with plants that have been in the same container for at lease a couple of years.) Gently slip the plant out of the old pot. Avoid pulling on the stem, just gently tap the root ball out. Place it in the prepared new pot. Add fresh soil around the edges. I use an old table knife to tamp down the new soil. A chopstick works well, also. When the gaps around the sides are all nicely filled with fresh soil, water the plant thoroughly to eliminate any air pockets. Let all the excess water drain off, then add more soil if needed.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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rainbowgardener
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type fungus gnat control into the Keyword box that comes up when you click on Search the Forum above, to find a ton of stuff that's already been written about them here.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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