Growing Baby Fingers Begonias

Variety: Begonia Baby Fingers
Family: Begoniaceae
Cultivar: N/A
Zones: 10 to 11
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Soil Type: Some sand to clay loam
Soil pH: 6 to 7
Sunlight: Shade to dappled
Watering: Normal to moist
Fertilizer: Flowering shrub and tree fertilizer
Availability: Sold as seeds or live, potted plants.

When to plant: Plant the Baby Fingers Begonia at any time during the growing season when there is no danger of frost.

Planting Method
SEEDS: Plant seeds ½ inch deep, 12 to 18 inches apart.

CONTAINER: Dig a planting hole twice the size of the root ball and as deep as the soil in the container. Center in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Create a water ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The water ring will help divert water to the outside roots and will encourage proper root growth and nourishment. Mulch with at least 3 inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

BALLED AND BURLAPED: Dig a planting hole three times the size of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Scarify the sides of the planting hole with a pitchfork or shovel. If the burlap is synthetic, remove and discard it, as synthetic burlap does not decompose. Center in the planting hole. Remove any staples or ties holding organic burlap on the plant. Fold the top of the burlap down far enough into the planting hole so that it is completely covered when you backfill. Backfill with soil. Create a water ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. Mulch with at least 3 inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

BARE ROOT: Soak the roots for at least eight hours to ensure proper hydration. Dig a planting hole as wide as the spread-out roots and as deep as the discoloration on the trunk, which shows how deep the begonia was previously planted. Center in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Create a water ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. Mulch with at least 3 inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

Watering
Water with at least an inch of water per week. The soil should be kept moist to a depth of 18 inches. Water again when the top few inches of soil dries out. If you have a problem with excess standing water, create a French drain to help divert excess water to another part of the garden or yard.

Fertilizing
Fertilize with flowering shrub and tree fertilizer in the spring. If a soil test shows low or missing nutrients, use a nutrient-specific fertilizer instead of an all-purpose fertilizer.

Production
Baby Fingers Begonia is a low-maintenance evergreen that produces green foliage and single, pink flowers. It grows to a height of 1 foot and up to 1 foot wide.

Diseases

  • Leaf Spots: Bacteria or fungi cause brown or black spots on leaves. The leaf spots have no particular shape, but the edges look yellow. People, rain and insects spread leaf spots. When the plant is dry, remove the infected leaves. Be sure to keep the plant pruned properly, and clean up any dropped leaves under the plant. Water plants from below, taking care to keep the foliage dry. Leaf spots can also be controlled with fungicide.
  • Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungus that usually affects plants that have low air circulation and inadequate light. It is a bigger problem in the early spring and fall months, when the temperatures swing from high during the day to low at night, especially in zones with a lot of humidity. Powdery mildew forms a white or gray coating on the top of the leaves, making them turn yellow, curl up and drop off. It also causes stunted fruit that drops early. To control powdery mildew, decrease watering, use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and keep water off the foliage. Apply fungicides as directed.
  • Rhizactonia Root and Stem Rot: Rhizoctonia is found in a lot of soils. It enters the plant through the roots and causes it to wilt as it travels up the stems. The lower leaves will wilt first. If you think your plant has this problem, decrease watering. If all of the leaves are wilted, discard the plant and clean

Pests

  • Mealybugs: Mealybugs are covered with a white wax and feed on plants by inserting stylets into the plant. They secrete honeydew, which creates sooty mold and attracts ants. Eggs are laid inside a cotton-type pouch and hatch in 7 to 10 days. The adults live about 30 days, and can lay several hundred eggs. Control mealybugs with an insecticidal soap or pesticides.
  • Scale Insects: The 1/8-inch-long scale insect attaches itself to the leaves and stems of plants. While the males have wings, the females do not, and spend their lives attached to the plant, sucking out juices with their piercing mouth parts. The scale insect excretes honeydew, which causes sooty mold that attracts ants. Cut any infected leaves off the plants. If the stems are also infected, you may have to dispose of the entire plant. You may be able to control them with insecticidal soaps or pesticides. You can also introduce parasitic wasps to your garden, as they are the scale insect's natural enemies. Lady beetles are also natural enemies.
  • Slugs and Snails: Slugs and snails will eat any part of the plant that is not overly woody. They do not like scented foliage, so they tend to stay away from areas with highly scented plants. They can be controlled with chemicals, but these chemicals are dangerous to children and pets. To try to control them without chemicals, set beer traps in the late spring. Remove any type of ground cover, including mulch. Keep the garden area picked up; do not leave pots, rocks, wood or tarps in the area.
  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged insects that feed on foliage, causing stippling, a distinctive spotted look on the leaves. They also create a thin web on the plants, and will use the web to move from one plant to another. Adults live up to 21 days and lay hundreds of eggs, which hatch in two to four days. You will probably need a magnifying glass to see the adults, eggs and nymphs. The adult will have two distinctive black spots on it. Spider mites tend to become immune to pesticides, so if you decide to use them, rotate the type of pesticide you use. Natural predators include predator mites, pirate bugs and lady beetles. Isolate plants infected with spider mites to stop their spread.
  • Thrips: Out of the 6,000-plus species of thrips, there are five that like to visit garden plants. These narrow-bodied insects are about 1/8-inch long and have a life span of about 45 days. They are commonly found eating foliage, including the stems of plants. They do not like cooler temperatures and will invade a warm greenhouse. Keep plants well-weeded and use sticky strips to trap thrips. Some pesticides may work, though some only kill the larvae, not adult insects. Natural enemies include lacewings, ladybeetles and pirate bugs.
  • Whiteflies: Whiteflies are less than 1/8 of an inch long, with white wings and yellow bodies. Their eggs hatch in 8 to 11 days. They have piercing mouthparts and suck the juices from plants, which causes stunted growth and yellow leaves. They can be controlled with pesticides, but in order for them to be effective, the underside of the leaves must be treated. Parasitic wasps and lady beetles can be used for outdoor control.

Cleanup
Prune Baby Fingers Begonia in the spring and throughout the growing season for dead and decaying plant matter. Pinch the stem tips to encourage bushiness, especially when grown in containers. This plant has growth buds; pinching the terminal buds off the stem tips will force the lateral buds to grow.

Saving Seeds
Propagate by dividing the rhizomes or with stem cuttings. Dip stem cuttings in rooting powder and plant them in amended soil. Water well.

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