Begonias bloom profusely until frost.
image by Jonny_OZ/morguefile
Tuberous begonias range in size from 6 to 12 inches and may spread a foot or more in width. These delightful annuals create a brilliant display of color from midsummer to frost, making them ideal for flowerbeds, hanging baskets and containers. Shade-loving begonias thrive in partial to full shade, brightening dark nooks with their striking blooms of whites, pinks, reds, yellows, oranges and even bronze. Green, bronze and red foliage sets this plant apart. Lifting bulbs in the fall and storing them for the next season guarantees an abundant supply of blooms the next year.
Allow begonias to die off naturally in southern climates. Leaves turn yellow and begin to drop in late fall. In northern climates, begonias can be grown until the first frost kills foliage.
Dig the bulbs with a garden fork, using care not to disturb young roots. Lift the entire plant from the soil. Shake gently to remove excess soil, but do not wash the bulbs. Check for signs of insect damage or disease. Discard soft or damaged bulbs.
Place in a cool, well-ventilated area to dry. Remove stems once they are brittle and break easily. Allowing stems to cure before removing them decreases the chances of rot.
Layer bulbs in 2 to 4 inches of peat moss or vermiculite. A cardboard box or a plastic bag with ventilation holes is ideal. For large quantities, store in several containers. More than three layers of bulbs invite disease.
Place the container in a cool, dry, dark place that maintains temperatures of between 50 and 60 degrees F.
Check bulbs periodically during storage for signs of mold or disease. Discard any diseased bulbs to prevent damage from spreading to healthy bulbs.