Although Begonia is a half hardy or hardy perennial it is normally treated as an half hardy annual by gardeners.
It is a very large genus, with over 1800 species, and therefore contains numerous plants that are commonly grown in gardens, these include Painted Begonia, Fuchsia Begonia, Bonfire Begonia, Tiger Leaf Begonia, and Tuberous Begonia.
The Begonia plant can vary from between 15 and 60 cm in height. Begonia flowers from the summer through Autumn.
It makes an ideal border or container plant.
Begonia by Withrow.
The leaves of Begonia tend to be red or green in color and are often striped.
Flowers are usually red, pink, yellow or white.
Begonia grandis by Tannaka Juuyou.
The Begonia genus is very large and includes upwards of 1,500 species. It is a member of the Begonicaea family, and therefore is closely related to the other member of this genus Hillebrandia; this genus only includes one plant (Hillebrandia sandwicensis) and has the local Hawaiian name of Pua Maka Nui.
Begonia are herbaceous in nature and are native to South Asia, Africa, and Central and Southern America. They usually have large asymmetric leaves that may have markings and are often variegated with some species having many different colors. One of the interesting things about Begonia is that they are monoecious, and therefore have different male and female flowers on the same plant.
Some of the well known Begonia species that are grown in gardens include:
Begonia boweri: Tiger Leaf Begonia
Begonia semperflorens: Wax Begonia; Fibrous Begonias
Begonia grandis: Hardy Begonia
Begonia albopicta: Cane Stemmed Begonia
Begonia coccinea: Cane Begonia
Begonia reniformis: Grape Leaf Begonia
Begonia peltata: Fuzzy Leaf Begonia
Angel Wing Begonia: Begonia aconitifolia x coccinea
Fibrous Rooted begonia: Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum
Roseform Begonia: Begonia x tuberhybrida
Tuberous Begonia: Begonia x tuberhybrida
When growing Begonia it is best to start the plants off indoors.
When growing from seed then they should be prepared four months before planting out
Begonia tubers should be planted in the early spring.
Begonia seeds should be planted just below the surface
They should take around 15 days to two months to germinate at a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius.
Once fully established Begonia seedlings should be planted outdoors after the last frost of spring with a spacing of between 20 and 35 cm depending upon the size of the variety.
Ideally they should be planted into sunny or lightly shaded areas of the garden into a rich moist soil of pH 6 to 7.
It is important to regularly water Begonia plants; also supply a light monthly dose of fertilizer.
In cooler areas supply the plant with a mulch.
Also in cold areas, where Begonia species are not hardy, it is important that you do not expose them to frost. Dig up the tubers in the Autumn once leaves have started to turn yellow. Allow the Begonia tubers to dry, then store them in a cool place that will always remain above freezing.
If you require more plants then tuberous species can be divided; or you can take leaf or stem cuttings in mid-spring.
Begonia grandis (Hardy Begonia)
These are Tuberous plants come into bloom in mid summer with wonderful pink flowers. The foliage may be blue or green and is often veined.
Seeds can be planted outdoors in the autumn, or started off indoors. Ideally Begonia grandis should be spaced about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 cm) apart in a slightly acid soil of pH 6 to 7.
They are able to grow successfully in lightly shaded areas, and reach an height of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm).
In the USA, they are able to grow in zones 6 to 11, it is best to take tubers indoors in the winter if your area is prone to frost.
They require watering regularly, but do not overdo it. If you are in a region that does not require bring the tubers indoors then provide a mulch for the plant in the winter.
You can propagate by harvesting seed, splitting the tuber, taking stem cuttings or easiest of all by collecting and potting the bulblets that form in the autumn.
Begonia semperflorens (Fibrous Rooted Begonia, Wax Begonia)
These plants reach an height of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) and bloom from mid spring to mid autumn with red flowers.
Ideally they should be grown in a slightly acidic soil of pH 6 to 7, and spaced at a distance of 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm).
Dependent on the area they are grown, Begonia semperflorens can tolerate full sunlight (cooler regions) to light shade (hotter regions).