Tamaya or not Tamaya
By Darren Heppel
The internet is a wonderous thing. We can now see most anything we want and virtually go anywhere we want. The plants that can be seen are astounding, variegated monsteras, exotic cattleya orchids, blue bunny plants and rainbow roses. Wait what? Blue bunnies and rainbow roses? What is real and what is just made up just to make a buck? The internet is very one sided. You can be shown only what you are wanted to see and some details can be left out of an explanation to make you come to conclusions that are not true.
A beautiful plant came across my feed the other day. It was listed as a Begonia ‘Tamaya.’ It showed a beautiful plant with a tall tree like trunk and a cascading speckled leaves and loads of pink flowers. The plant did look familiar though — it was a plant known as Begonia albo-picta ‘Rosea’. The photos and description made me believe that this ‘Tamaya’ was a special plant that grew in this magical topiary manner. This beautiful growing style is called “Standard Form” it is a recognized form of growing cane begonias by the American Begonia Society. They even have a special class for this form at shows and well grown plants are even awarded.
So now we know the plant is Begonia albo picta ‘Rosea,’ grown in an upright standard form. The name ‘Tamaya’ was give to it as part of a marketing campaign. The photos of this plant made their way around the internet and piled up in Pinterest boxes. Plants were sold as ‘Tamaya’ and people expected them to grow automatically in this form. I can only expect that some major disappointments occurred.
Now for the great news. This incredible form can easily be obtained by anyone willing to put in a little effort. I hope you will give it a try.
How to train a begonia in standard form
Selection of the right begonia hybrid or species will make all the difference when trying this form. Select a plant that likes to grow straight and has strong stems. A smaller leaf size will also give you a better look on a smaller sized plant. In this case we are using the hybrid B. ‘Angel Wings’
Fig 1. Select a straight new growth from your cane begonia. A new growth that has n
ot had any lateral growth will make for a much nicer look. No scars from cutting off branches.
Fig 2. Pot the cutting up in a 4 or 5 inch pot. Stake it up right and either put it in a shady place in a greenhouse or a clear bag will help keep the humidity up until the plant can root in. It may become a little droopy until it gets some roots.
Fig 3. After the plant is fully rooted in the training can begin. Keep the plants stem straight by tying it to the bamboo stake as it grows up. Remove any new lateral growth when it is still young to minimize scaring. Just allow the apex growing point to continue to grow up until you get to the height you want the plant to be. Take your leaf size into consideration when deciding this.
Fig4. When the plant has reached the required height you can allow the new top lateral growth to grow. Allowing it to get to the length you want the overall width to be and then pinching the main growing tip out to cause it to branch. Over time this will create a full plant.
Now it is just a point of maintaining it. Like any well pruned shrub or bonsai you can pinch and train the plant to be what you want it to look like.