Plant of the Month – December, 2010
Begonia ‘Gryphon’. All photos by Jimmy Turner.
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Begonia hybrid ‘Gryphon’
Common name: Gryphon begonia
Plant type: Summer annual or houseplant
Blooming season: Seldom
Foliage: Silver-splashed, hand-sized leaves
Mature height: 2½ ft. tall and wide
Exposure: Light shade to morning sun
Water usage: Low
Sources: Local nurseries
Not every plant I write about comes from my observations in the Trial Gardens of the Dallas Arboretum. This month, as I sat in my living room looking out on my backyard, trying to find just the right plant to write about, I was struck with inspiration. In the corner of my living room is a beautiful container of Begonia ‘Gryphon’ that I brought in from my patio before first frost. My ‘Gryphon’ started life as a tiny 4-inch pot that I brought home from the Trial Program last March. I needed something tall and striking in a container on my patio. It quickly grew to 2½-feet tall, with arching branches of 10-inch wide leaves of deep green streaked with silver.
I’ve found this plant likes light shade; at most, it can take a couple of hours of direct sun in the morning. In Texas it prefers shade from the direct sun from 10 a.m. on. ‘Gryphon’ doesn’t require much water, but will grow faster with an occasional liquid feeding.
‘Gryphon’ can be used mixed in shade beds with other summer annuals. I’m partial to mixing it with white impatiens and Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’. This plant really shines, though, when used in containers, which have the added bonus of being brought in during winter. ‘Gryphon’ easily shifts from patio to houseplant. The large one sitting in the corner of my living room was moved indoors just a few weeks ago and is flourishing. Now I just have to decide where I like it better, or maybe I’ll just get a second one next year for my patio!
Trust me, my yard is a much more grueling test than the Trial Garden ever is. I’m never home, seldom fertilize, and water infrequently, so plants in my yard really have to take a beating. ‘Gryphon’ begonia looked great all summer on my patio and now will grace my living room all winter. You should be able to buy this fast-growing hybrid begonia from your local retailers starting in early spring.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the senior director of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit www.dallasplanttrials.org for more information on his trials.