I have long loved begonias - with their bold, beautiful foliage and delicate flowers, it’s hard to resist such an amazing family of plants. Begonia is a genus in the family Begoniaceae. The genus contains at least 1500 different plant species and numerous hybrids. They are native to Mexico, Central and South America, Asia and South Africa - regions with tropical and subtropical climates.
There are different types of begonias, including tuberous begonias, semperflorens begonias, rex begonias, and rhizomatous begonias. 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. 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. And, rising over the foliage - small, dainty blooms in shades of pink and white. Here's a look at some of the begonias growing in my greenhouse - enjoy.
I keep my collection of beautiful begonias on a long, sliding table in my main greenhouse.
Rhizomatous begonias range from small, delicate plants with one-inch wide leaves to large, robust specimens with 12-inch wide leaves or more.
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.
To successfully grow rhizomatous begonias, use clay pots and only repot one size up when the roots have filled their current vessel.
Begonias grow best in light, well-drained soil. Any good light potting mix is okay for your containers.
I love this whimsical looking Begonia ‘Wightii’, Begonia maculata variegata, with its silver spotted leaves. Its nickname is “polka dot” and is a vigorous grower best suited for upright pots.
This is Begonia ‘Othello’ – It has medium-small tightly spiraled leaves of dark olive green.
Take a close look at the leaves of this begonia – green leaves speckled with dark burgundy and edged with tiny hairs.
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.
Begonias are propagated from seed or cuttings. You can root rhizome pieces in a mixture of half peat moss, half perlite.
Begonia soli-mutata is a compact medium-sized species from Brazil. The heart-shaped leaf colors vary depending on its exposure to bright light, which is why its common name is Sun Tan Begonia.
Several of my ‘soli-mutata’ plants were grown from leaf cuttings off a parent plant.
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 margins.
Most rhizomatous begonias are grown for their interesting leaves – this one has bright green spiraled leaves with red colored edges.
However, they also display clusters of small lovely blooms that grow like clouds above the foliage.
Rhizomatous begonia flowers bloom in late winter to early spring and can range from shades of pink blush to bright white.
This is called Begonia gehrtii. Begonias are remarkably resistant to pests primarily because their leaves are rich in oxalic acid – a natural insect repellent.
Begonia ‘Raspberry Torte’ is a showy plant with glossy spiraled leaves and bands of silver and dark raspberry.
Begonia paulensis 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.
Begonia ‘Caravan’ has a leaf pattern of chartreuse veining on chocolate-green, with a velvety texture.
Begonia ‘Lotusland’ is a large thick stemmed rhizomatous variety. It can grow up to to three-feet tall. It is hard to miss when entering my greenhouse.
‘Lotusland’ stands out with its large shield-shaped dark green leaves.
This is Begonia acetosa, also known as ‘Ruby Begonia’. It has velvet cupped leaves with tomato red undersides. It tolerates much lower humidity than most.
Begonia peltata has fleshy silver-pelted leaves which become thick and waxy during winter.
These plants are considered cool temperature plants and will do best in temperatures ranging from 58 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Begonias should be fed a general purpose fertilizer every other week during spring and summer.
There is no end to the variety of leaf shape, color and texture in the begonia – what are your favorite cultivars? Share them in the comments below.