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Delilah Onofrey
Photographs Delilah Onofrey

The begonia genus spans so many species and flower forms, there seems to be no limit to the possibilities in breeding. One particular species that has been capturing a lot of attention from gardeners, landscapers and breeders is Begonia boliviensis.

The plant originates from cloud forests on the eastern side of the Andes in Bolivia and Argentina. These begonias were typically found in rock crevices and slopes near streams. Although it captured interest from European botanists in the 1860s, these begonias have only recently become commercially popular and widely available to gardeners with the first major variety, Bonfire, introduced by Anthony Tesselaar. Gardeners just loved the showers of pendulous red-orange blooms and serrated dark green foliage.

One breeder that has been working on improving these plants is Suntory Flowers in Japan. The Crackling Fire begonia series is new to the North American market and offers the widest color range with varieties available in red, white, pink, orange, yellow and creamy yellow. While Bonfire is long and pendulous, Crackling Fire plants are more compact and have shorter internodes and stems. The flowers are more outward facing than downward. Plants are sturdy, more compact, and more resistant to breakage.

Crackling Fire plants are easy to care for and do not require deadheading. They are also more sun and drought tolerant than other begonia species and fertilizer requirements are low. Try these versatile beauties in patio pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

Crackling Fire has been on the market in Europe for several years. Chris Spanton of Sutton Consumer Products in England shares their attributes and planting and care tips:

About Delilah Onofrey:
For nearly 20 years, Delilah Onofrey was an editor for Greenhouse Grower magazine. She now is the director of Flower Power Marketing and is the founder of America in Bloom, a national beautification and community revitalization program. Delilah joined the Suntory Flowers marketing team last fall.

Posted October 11, 2013

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

As summer heats up, the garden party is just beginning for gorgeous, tropical mandevillas. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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