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On Gardening: Funky Pink begonia exotically unique for baskets, mixed containers [Tribune News Service :: BC-HOME-ONGARDENING:MCT]

All right begonia lovers there is a new kid on the block with the crazy name Funky Pink and it will make a wonderful addition to mixed baskets and planters. I am growing it with Heavenly Blue Surfinia in rectangular baskets hanging from a deck and it is everything I had hoped it would be.

Funky Pink was hybridized by Benary Seed which to be honest have kind of become the begonia gurus in the gardening world. It was quickly picked up by Proven Winners where you most likely see your label when you buy yours. It is an interspecific cross between the begonia boliviensis which we all love and the begonia tuberosa which we all desperately want to grow.

This cross looks to be magic, it's vigorous and beautiful and mine has been garnering attention from ruby-throated hummingbirds. It is touted as heat tolerant and sun tolerant and though I don't have mine in full sun it does get some afternoon cooking which had worried me. The double flowers are drop dead gorgeous.

Like other begonias some of you might be familiar with, it has double flowers which are male and single petaled which are female. I love both, they simply make the plant more exciting. I have mine partnered not only with the Heavenly Blue Surfinia petunia but also Goldilocks lysimachia which by most standards both racehorses providing a lot of competition in the baskets. So far Funky Pink has held its own nicely and is now starting to hang off both the front and the rear of the planters.

The exotic look of flowers can take your breath away, but they also have attractive foliage. The leaves are on long, arching stems and are deeply serrated with leaf petioles having a hot pink hue. To me, the plants look lush and tropical and perfect for the porch patio or deck.

Even though mine are perfect I still think the beginner might find morning sun and afternoon shade giving the best performance. The habit of this plant screams for it to be in a basket, window box or mixed container. Assuming that this is what you have in mind select a container large enough to let the plant achieve its full potential. Choose a good lightweight potting mix.

I've seen photos of them in raised beds with rich organic matter that really resembles potting soil. The look was good but I still like those situations where the stems can cascade downward. This gives the most picturesque look.

Though I have not grown this through a winter yet I am expecting that if drainage is perfect there is a chance they will return from dormancy in the spring in zones 7-10. If not, they were still worth every penny spent.

Keep the soil moist but definitely not saturated. They have the ability to perform for months during the summer so you'll want to feed them to keep them growing. I am using a dilute water soluble 20-20-20 every other week. In containers, you can also feed as recommended with controlled-release granules.

The Funky Pink begonia has the ability to be stand alone in a monoculture basket or container and look dazzling. I have also grown similar begonias in mixed containers with scaevola, SunPatiens, and Japanese sweet flag.

This summer when you see Funky Pink begonias for sale don't let the strange name throw you. This is a fun begonia to grow and will reward you with gorgeous flowers, good performance and regular hummingbird visits.

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(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

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(c)2018 Norman Winter

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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