Is it possible to save Begonia tubers and skip a years planting?

Asked January 22, 2019, 3:53 PM EST

I have a friend who has had her tubers for 40 years. Due to a series of serious health challenges she probably won't be able to plant all 30-40 this year, if any. Is it possible to keep them through the summer, overwinter (again) and replant the following year? And if so, how exactly? She has grown the same tubers for decades and some are 7" across! I have looked online and most questions deal with just overwintering until spring. This is about saving for an additional year without the benefit of planting. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Skagit County Washington

1 Response

Thanks for the question. As you've discovered, there isn't much (if any) information about keeping tubers such a long time. One article about their care is this: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/dont-toss-those-tuberous-begonias-save-next-summer

The two biggest challenges for any type of storage of underground plant parts are water (which can allow fungi to grow if present) and heat (which signals to the tuber that it's time to go to work.)

Arguably, if kept in a 40 degree environment with good air circulation and no light, they might survive. However, their extended time in hibernation may preclude them from growing and blooming again. Perhaps you have a garden club or community garden nearby that would agree to plant and then season them in 2019, so they'll be ready for your friend's return to the garden in 2020. Good luck!