How do you winterize a begonia?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

To winterize a begonia, it is important to provide the right conditions for the tubers to go dormant and survive through the colder months. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you winterize your begonia tubers:

1. Prepare a suitable storage medium: Start by lining a small cardboard box with a layer of peat moss, vermiculite, or sawdust. These materials provide insulation and help retain moisture.

2. Lay the tubers on the storage medium: Carefully place the begonia tubers on top of the peat moss, vermiculite, or sawdust in the box. Make sure to leave some space between the tubers, avoiding any direct contact.

3. Cover the tubers: Once the tubers are in place, cover them with an additional layer of the storage medium. This layer should be thick enough to completely cover the tubers but still allow for some airflow.

4. Store in a cool location: Find a suitable location to store the box of begonia tubers. The ideal temperature range for winter storage is around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 10 degrees Celsius). It is crucial to avoid extreme temperatures, especially freezing conditions, as this could damage or kill the tubers.

5. Check moisture levels: Throughout the winter, periodically check the moisture levels in the storage medium. You want it to be slightly damp but not overly wet. If the medium feels dry, lightly mist it with water to maintain proper humidity.

6. Monitor for pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for any signs of pests or diseases on the tubers during storage. If you notice any issues, such as rot or fungal growth, remove the affected tubers immediately to prevent further spread.

7. Inspect and prepare for spring: As the winter season comes to an end, inspect the tubers for any signs of new growth. If you see emerging buds or shoots, it’s time to prepare for spring. Gently remove the tubers from the storage medium and plant them in well-draining soil in pots or outdoor beds, depending on your growing preferences.

By following these steps, you can successfully winterize your begonia tubers and ensure their survival until the next growing season. Each year, I personally go through this process to protect my begonias, and it has proven to be effective in keeping the tubers healthy and ready for springtime planting.