Gardiner's Chronicle (March 14, 1908 ) p. 169
Begonia socotrana hybrid, Mrs Heal


One of the most interesting and valuable sections into which winter-blooming Begonias may now be divided is the type which Messrs. JAMES VEITCH & SONS have raised by crossing the tuberous-rooted varieties with Begonia socotrana. The first hybrid was distributed in 1883 under the name of John Heal, in compliment to their skilful plant-breeder, whose successful work is illustrated in these Begonias as in many other plants. Since that time a considerable number of varieties have been first exhibited at the shows and subsequently distributed in gardens. The variety Mrs. John Heal was sent out in 1895. The flowers are about 2 inches wide, the petals equal and overlapping, rich rosy-red, produced freely on plants 1 foot high (see fig. 71). In the Supplementary Illustration is shown a batch of plants which were cultivated at Eshton hall, the residence of Sir M. WILSON, Dart., and they represent such successful culture we have pleasure in reproducing the following information kindly supplied by Mr. LEON SQUIBBS, the gardener at that place. "The cuttings were taken in March, and inserted in a compost of peat moss in the stove. As soon as they had made roots, each plant was potted singly into a pot 3 inches in diameter, using a potting compost of loam, leafmould, peat, and sand in equal proportions, all the materials having first been passed through a 1-inch sieve. When they had rooted sufficiently, they were re-potted into pots 5 inches in diameter, the compost being fibrous loam, leaf. mould, and peat in equal parts, with some dried cow manure and a little sand. They were finally potted into 7 and 8-inch pots, a similar compost, with a little soot and bone meal added, being again used. The plants were cultivated in a moist stove atmosphere from start to finish, but they were shaded from hot sunshine. They were watered twice weekly, either with liquid manure from the farmyard, or after an application of Clay's fertiliser, and occasionally with soot water. All the flower-buds that appeared before September were pinched off, but after that time the plants were allowed to flower. Many of the sprays were 1 foot to 1 foot 6 inches, and the bloom 2 inches in diameter. It is advantageous to remove the plants into a house of intermediate temperature after they have developed a considerable number of flowers, as this ensures a longer period of blooming, and the plants are rendered more serviceable for house decoration; they have proved invaluable here for this purpose. Begonia Mrs. Heal surpasses Gloire de Lorraine in effectiveness. This latter Begonia is given the same treatment, and the plants have measured 3 feet in diameter and as much in height." It may be added that this type of Begonia, combining as it does characteristics of the tuberous-rooted and fibrous-rooted species, needs to be treated very carefully as soon as the flowering season is past. At fig. 70 is reproduced a photograph showing the condition of a plant as it should appear at about March 1. At that time the plants are busy forming tubers, as the tuberous species would do, and also producing growths from the axils of the leaves, which is a characteristic of the fibrous-rooted species. They should be kept in a warm, freely-ventilated house, and watered sparingly about once each week. The culture should be directed to getting the tuber to swell properly and to mature fully, for which purpose it is necessary to keep the leaves healthy and green as long as possible. When the young growths from the axils of the leaves have become long enough, they may be removed for use as cuttings for the increase of stock. At the beginning of the month of June, she plants should be cut down to about 2 inches from the base, and they may then be cultivated for another season, but should not be hastened into growth by exciting culture.

FIG. 70. —BEGONIA SOCOTRANA HYBRID. (Showing growths from axils of leaves, and formation of tuber at base of stem.) FIG. 71—BEGONIA “MRS. HEAL”: FLOWERS ROSY-RED

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