March 19, 2015
A Look at My Begonias
As many of you know, I have a large collection of begonias - with their bold, beautiful foliage and delicate flowers, it’s hard to resist such an amazing family of plants. The genus begonia contains about 1500 different plant species and hundreds of hybrids. They are native to tropical and subtropical climates, so many specimens are kept indoors as ornamental houseplants.
Rhizomatous begonias are grown for their interesting and spectacular leaves. They come in an array of sizes, colors and textures, and can be small or large, smooth or veiny, decorated in bold accents of red, copper and silver or subtle shades of green. This group of begonias is also loved for its compact size. While the plants can grow very large horizontally, they don’t reach great heights because they grow from the rhizomes, which creep along the soil, or just above it in twisted trunks. As you will notice in the photos, it's the small, delicate blooms that rise above the foliage.
Rhizomatous begonias make wonderful additions to any home and with such a vast selection to choose from, I’m certain there’s at least one begonia that would inspire and captivate any gardener.
Here are the latest photos of the begonias in my greenhouse. I hope you enjoy them…
1 My collection of begonias continues to grow. I keep these beautiful plants on a long, sliding table in my greenhouse.
2 Rhizomatous begonias range from small, delicate plants with one-inch wide leaves to large, robust specimens with 12-inch wide leaves or more. Their leaves can be smooth and soft to heavily textured and rough to touch.
3 Because these plants store water in the rhizomes, which are their thick, fuzzy stems, it is important not to overwater them. Only water these plants when the top one inch of soil feels dry.
4 I love this whimsical looking Begonia 'Wightii' with its silver spotted leaves. It's nickname is "polka dot" and is a vigorous grower best suited for upright pots.
5 Rhizomatous begonias should be fed a general purpose fertilizer every other week during spring and summer.
6 To successfully grow rhizomatous begonias, use shallow, clay pots and only repot one size up when the roots have filled their current vessel.
7 Take a close look at the leaves of this begonia - green leaves speckled with dark burgundy and edged with tiny hairs.
8 Here is a closer look at the thick, fleshy stem of a rhizomatous begonia. The rhizome stores water and nutrients, making it a little more tolerant of irregular watering.
9 These plants are considered cool temperature plants and will do best in temperatures ranging from 58 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
10 The foliage on this begonia is green on one side and bold pink on the other. The crinkled, hairy edges add great texture.
11 This beautiful begonia specimen is called 'Madame Queen'. It boasts large, ruffled leaves distinctly marked with green on top and a rich, red colored underside.
12 Begonia soli-mutata is a compact medium-sized species from Brazil. The heart-shaped leaf's colors vary depending on its exposure to bright light, which is why its common name is "Sun Tan Begonia".
13 Begonia carolineifolia is an upright perennial native to Southern Mexico and Central America. It has a striking woody trunk with large palm frond-like shiny green leaves.
14 The stems of the begonia carolineifolia are exceptionally thick, and show the scars of felled leaves.
15 As a houseplant, the begonia carolineifolia is highly decorative and easy to grow. it has dense heads of light pink flowers on tall stems from late winter to spring.
16 Although most rhizomatous begonias are grown for their interesting leaves, they also display clusters of small lovely blooms that grow like clouds above the foliage.
17 Rhizomatous begonia flowers bloom in late winter to early spring and can range from blush to white to shades of pink in color.
18 Begonia 'Red Planet' displays green leaves with reddish-brown speckles and white flowers.
19 Begonia 'Royal Lustre' has small silvery green leaves with tones of pink and green. Upon close inspection, you can see the small hairs that line the leaf margin.
20 Begonia 'Raspberry Torte' is a showy plant with glossy spiraled leaves and bands of silver and dark raspberry.
21 Begonia gehrtii has very distinctive foliage. The leaves are large, and shiny green with an extremely textured surface. Keep this houseplant in a shady area during summer months to prevent leaf burn.
22 Some begonia leaves will actually feel very crispy when touched, so handle the foliage gently to prevent cracking.
23 The leaves of a rhizomatous begonia can be very heavily textured on both sides. The underside of this plant's leaves have a reddish colored cobweb pattern of veins.
24 Begonias are remarkably resistant to pests primarily because their leaves are rich in oxalic acid - a natural insect repellent.
25 Begonias make wonderful year-round houseplants. I hope you are inspired to get one for your windowsill.