Sometimes really interesting things happen by pure coincidences. That’s the case when the new begonia Unbelievable Miss Montreal (Begonia Unbelievable ™ Miss Montreal) was launched on the North American market as a new plant introduction for 2017.
You see, Montreal celebrates the 375th anniversary of its foundation this summer and you might have thought that the plant’s developer, the Dutch plant breeder, Dümmen Orange, had named the plant because of this special occasion, but no. I checked with them and they knew nothing of the anniversary! The name “Miss Montreal” was in fact chosen to emphasize this begonia’s exceptional resistance to cold temperatures (I assume the Dutch figure Montreal is pretty much the equivalent of the North Pole and indeed, if you visit the city in midwinter, the resemblance can be striking!).
Begonia Unbelievable Miss Montreal is an absolutely striking begonia, the result of complex crosses between the classic tuberous begonia (B. x tuberhybrida) and the Bolivian begonia (B. boliviensis). It’s a semi-trailing plant with stems at first upright and then arching, forming a mound about 10 to 16 inches (25 to 55 cm) high and 18 to 20 inches (45 to 50 cm) in diameter that will trail gracefully from a hanging basket or flower box. The large 3-inch (7.5 cm) double flowers are at creamy white with pale yellow highlights and a coral-pink edge, then, still keeping the coral-pink edge, turn a very pale apricot, a charming combination. The dark green and bronze foliage, rather narrow and pointed, brings out the best in the flowers.
This plant blooms abundantly throughout the summer until well into fall, even when temperatures begin to drop, showing exceptional cold resistance. It is self-cleaning, so you won’t need to deadhead to keep it blooming.
The plant has proven to be a hit with growers and is currently available in nurseries everywhere.
Plant begonia Unbelievable Miss Montreal in rich, well-drained soil in sun or, better yet, part shade. You can grow it in a container or in the garden. It’s not a very needy plant when it comes to fertilizer: just one application of all-purpose, slow-release organic fertilizer at planting time will suffice. In the garden, space the plants about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 40 cm) apart to ensure complete coverage. In pots, you can easily grow it all by itself, but it’s also attractive used in mixed baskets.
If rainfall is irregular during the summer, make sure not to forget to water it. During periods of drought, a thorough watering about every 5 to 7 days should be sufficient.
How to Overwinter Tubers
In the fall, when the frost has killed back the foliage, you’ll need to store the tuber indoors over the winter. First place the plant in a shed or garage for about a week so the tuber can start to dry out. When the stems practically snap off the tuber on their own, remove them and toss them in the compost, keeping only the tuber.
If you grew yours in a pot, it’s often more convenient to leave it there during the winter, just storing the whole pot indoors. If yours is growing in the ground, dig the tuber up, clean it thoroughly and store it in a perforated container so as to allow a bit of air circulation, covering it in shredded paper or peat moss. In both cases, store the tuber in a cool, dry, frost-free place for the winter.
In the spring, about 6 to 8 weeks before the planting-out date, repot the tuber (if it was stored bare) or just bring out the pot and start gently watering again. To start the plant on the way to summer bloom, place it in well-lit spot indoors at normal room temperatures. In no time, your Unbelievable Miss Montreal begonia will be in full leaf and shortly after, in full bloom as well, just what it takes to properly launch your new flowering season.
The Unbelievable Miss Montreal begonia: a true winner!