No other propagator in the world takes Rex stock plant maintenance to the level or scale that Booman Floral does. It is our exceptionally clean stock which sets our program above others.
Booman Floral is committed to providing a clean start to commercial growers. Begonias are notorious for being contaminated by Xanthemonas bacteria and a slew of viruses common to ornamental plants. We spend tens of thousands of dollars each year cleaning our stock, testing to verify freedom from pathogens, and building new propagation beds where we take cuttings for our customers.
When you buy Rex Begonia plants from Booman Floral, you are getting the best that experience and technology can offer.
History of Rex Begonias at Booman Floral – by James L. Booman
27 Years Ago: “You can never grow Rex Begonias in Southern California!” a grower bellowed at me when I first arrived in 1985.
Last Year: “Congratulations! You have single handedly revived Rex Begonias as a commercial potted plant,” came the complement at a recent trade show.
My, my. How far we have come.
The gauntlet thrown, I set out to find a way to grow these old fashioned plants which my grandmother always kept on her dining room table. These plants have amazing colors. Home gardeners talked to them as if they were pets. Yet, they were not commercially available.
The challenge. Old varieties of Rex were beautiful, but they had many problems which made commercial growers look the other way to find easier crops to sell. Rex fell “out of fashion.” Rex Begonias lost their leaves in the winter when days grew short. They were very subject to fungal infections, viruses and bacteria. They burned easily in salty water — and Southern California has some of the saltiest drinking water in the US. One glance at Rex Begonias in any greenhouse revealed that characteristic brown salt burnt dead-edge on every leaf.
So it was our challenge to turn that around, bring back these amazing plants.
Victory. After years of working and evaluating over 100,000 hybrid seedlings, we developed several series of Rex Begonias which Commercial Growers can use. We selected and patented over 21 varieties which are
- Resist Salt Damage
- Vigorous and show little to no winter dormancy
- Grow well in cool 50f night greenhouses (saves heating expenses)
The first “high color” varieties we patented and marketed as the Great American Cities(tm) collection. Names for each variety were tied to a city which seemed to echo the character or spirit of the leaf color. New York Swirl is a large busy variety, strong in pattern and motion. Charlotte Chiffon is a beautiful shimmering pink and silver salute to the finery of well dressed Southern women. Boston Cherries’n Chocolate is molten brown flowing over bright pink cherry spots. Chicago Fire blazes red and black. Omaha Beefsteak stops tracks with its deep red over-sized prime cut leaves. Miami Storm is an awarded selection in the UK, for its dense display of intensely scarlet leaves. It even survives the hot humid summers of Florida and the Southeast where Rex Begonias normally “melt out.”
Our Great American Cities(tm) varieties were also patented and co-marketed in Europe, Japan, and Australia in cooperation with Amerinova Plants, and distributed some years by EuroAmerican Propagator’s in their Proven Selections(tm).
Great American Cities L-R: New York Swirl, Charlotte Chiffon, Chicago Fire, Boston Cherries’n Chocolate, Omaha Beefsteak, Miami Storm
Our Beach Cities(tm) Rex Begonias are medium leaf varieties with extremely dense and fast growing habit. These are perfect for 4″ or 5″ production. Staying true to naming our plants after American cities, we chose beach destinations along the Mexican Riviera. Ixtapa Red, Mazatlan Blush, Acapulco Pink, and Cancun Christmas are uniform in finish.
Beach Cities L-R: Cancun Christmas, Acapulco Pink, Mazatlan Blush, Cancun Christmas
Then people asked us for a Miniature Series for 3″ and 4″ production, the pot size many customers like for desktops, windowsills, and giving as gifts. So we came up with some brightly colored varieties which range from the screaming pink Mini Miami to the dark rich leaves of Mini Boston Cherries’n Chocolate. Mini New York Swirl mimics in miniature the corkscrew and dramatic coloring of it’s large leafed ‘cousin.’
Miniature L-R: Mini Portland Picotee Pink, Mini Miami Storm, Mini Tuscaloosa
Unusual leaf forms and colors are what attract gardeners to Rex Begonias. Some grow only plants with spiral leaf centers, known by the friendly term “Corkscrews.” Others seek varieties with a fine mist of white dots, affectionately called “Paint Splash.” Knowing this, we developed a trio of Paint Splashed Corkscrew Rex which include both traits, and are nothing short of show stoppers. Our Constellation Series of plants grow large, full, with huge spiraling corkscrews which alternate left and right off the stem. The fine white paint splattering background intensifies the dark centers of pink, raspberry, and red of varieties Capricorn, Libra, and Taurus. Variety Evelyn Weidner honors the lifetime work of our local Begonia expert with vivid pink corkscrews on giant silver and pink picotee leaves.
Constellation Series L-R: Capricorn, Libra, Taurus
Bob Golden Series. Through our many friendships with members of the American Begonia Society, we have added many interesting varieties which we propagate on a contract basis. Bob Golden brought us a dozen varieties which he developed in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. His varieties have enormous leaves. We have seen some over 15″ in diameter. These amazing plants are best used as garden specimens. Bob repeatedly wins competitions when he shows these varieties at fairs. We offer his selections on a contract basis.
Bob Golden Hybrids L-R: Catalina Sunrise, Chiraco, Mosaic Charm, Miralest, Navajo Sunrise
Rhizomatous Begonias. The Rhizomatous Rex Begonias don’t look or feel like the classic “Stained Glass Window Plant” which most people have come to associate with the word “Rex.” But in many ways, these plants are even better as houseplants and in the garden. The plants have thick, textured, drought resistant leaves. They live for decades in frost free locations. Leaf colors tend to be shades of greens or browns. Flowers though are show stoppers: tall fountains of panacles of white, pink, and even red. We offer these plants as starter 38 cell liners on a contract basis.