Rex begonias are rhizomatous in growth habit, but are grouped separately because of the colour of their leaves. The original Rex begonia was brought from Assam in India in 1856, by mistake, in a collection of orchids.
Leaf colourings are said to run the gambit of shades of precious metals – gold, silver, platinum, etc and precious gems – amethyst, ruby, garnet, topaz, emerald and opal. The leaf textures follow that of beautiful fabrics such as silk, satin, velvet, brocade, crepe, tweed and soft woolens.
Care: Rex cultorum leaves will grow easily from wedges placed half their length into propagating sand. They like humidity, so indoors is only suitable if provision is made to create humidity. They are best kept in bright light but not direct sun. Use a good, open potting mix. For best results grow the more delicate Rexes in a cold glasshouse or terrarium. (e.g. old fish tanks).
If the flowers are not needed for seed, remove the female buds as they take some of the vitality out of the leaves. In our climate, seed may be planted late September through to February. All begonia seed is very fine so take care not to breathe too heavily when working with it. Do not cover with mix after planting. Just press gently so that the seed touches the seed mix. A good mix is 50% peat moss and 50% perlite.
A fungicidal spray is needed to combat mould – especially downy mildew. Spray at the onset of cold weather as a preventative measure or at the sign of any spotting of mildew.
Rex begonias are rewarding to grow and new varieties are hardier and just as spectacular as past favourites.
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