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Dragon Wing Yields Best Begonia Beauty
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Dragon Wing has got to be the most beautiful begonia for planters or the landscape. While it works great in full sun, the look in partial shade is absolutely awesome.
The Dragon Wing has really just hit the market this year. It has been sold under the name Sunbrite on a limited basis. It is kind of funny that it has been around for close to 20 years, but many of us have failed to recognize the beauty and durability of the plant.
Pan American Seed has come to this reality in a big way and are putting tons of money in its advertising and promotional program. This plant deserves being promoted like the Lexus of garden begonias.
This is a strange begonia in that our greenhouse producers have the option of growing it by seed or by rooted cuttings. You will want large healthy transplants.
These plants bloom almost constantly and have angel-wing shaped, dark green leaves that are spectacularly glossy with huge panicles of scarlet flowers hanging down. This plant is ideal for hanging baskets on the front porch or in large containers.
It won't be long before the Dragon Wing is available in pink as well as scarlet. The pink is beautiful and vigorous. I am growing it, but my heart has been captured by the brilliant scarlet.
I am growing some with the Mississippi Medallion award winning yellow shrimp plant, which is good from a compatibility standpoint and gives a tropical look. Dragon Wing begonias also work well with bananas, cannas and gingers.
You can plant Dragon Wing begonias now with great success. I prefer the partial-sun beds that are well drained and organic-rich. Work in three to four inches of organic matter, turning the soil to a depth of about 8 inches.
While tilling, add 2 pounds of a slow-release, 12-6-6 fertilizer with minor nutrients per 100 square feet of bed space.
Keep them well watered and feed monthly with light applications of the fertilizer. Apply a good layer of mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil temperatures moderate.
This angel wing-type begonia produces new shoots called canes from the base of the plant. Break back any unsightly canes to the base when shaping to allow new-blooming canes to develop.
These plants can really put on some growth. A 10-inch basket planted in a large tub or whisky barrel now will probably get 36 inches tall and as wide or larger by the end of summer.
They also exhibit some cold hardiness and can take several hits of temperatures in the low 30s with no problem. After the mild winter, mine came back in the landscape. You may want to keep some on the porch and simply tuck inside the door this winter on days when it is really cold.
The Dragon Wing has to be in the top five new plants of the last decade, and I am sure you will fall in love with it. Shop now while the supply seems to be holding stable. You will not want to be left out!