Begonia is a genus of perennial flowering plants in the family Begoniaceae.The genus contains about 1,400 different plant species. The Begonias are native to moist subtropical and tropical climates. In cooler climates some species are cultivated outside in summertime for their bright colorful flowers.
Begonia is widely cultivated around the world and there are hundreds of different hybrids. Botanists categorize begonias into several groups based on growth and root characteristics.
‘Big’ Series Begonia
The BIG SERIES (Begonia x benariensis) is a recent seed-grown introduction from Benery Seed. Plants are noted for their early bloom, large flowers, and vigorous habit. Their lush habit and bright flowers are perfect for hanging baskets, mixed containers and window boxes. They also make stunning garden bed displays.
- Better show of color as plant flowers on top of foliage
- Flowers appear in clusters from May to frost.
- Big Series are available in three different forms:
- ‘Red With Bronze Leaf’ (red flowers with bronze leaves),
- ‘Red With Green Leaf’ (red flowers with green leaves),
- ‘Rose With Bronze Leaf’ (rose flowers with bronze leaves).
- Plants typically grow from 14″ to 20″ tall.
Cocktail Series wax begonias (Begonia x semperflorens cultorum ‘Cocktail’) are tender perennials of hybrid origin. These plants are evergreen in tropical to sub-tropical zones but grown as annuals in temperate zones. There are two cultivars within this series:
- ‘Cocktail Gin': This cultivar displays beautiful bronze foliage with light pink flowers that contrast nicely with the leaf color.
- ‘Cocktail Vodka': This cultivar displays a bright combination of bronze foliage and glossy red blossoms with touches of yellow in the center of bloom.
The blooms can last from mid spring to mid fall and is very uniform in their habit. Excellent performers in the pack and garden. Often used as annuals in containers, hanging baskets and mass plantings.
Begonia ‘Dragon Wing’
DRAGON WING series (Begonia ‘Bepared’ DRAGON WING) is a hybrid between a wax begonia and an angel wing begonia. It features “angel wing” like, shiny green leaves and large drooping scarlet flowers. It is a compact, bushy, fibrous-rooted plant that typically forms dense mounds to 15-18″ tall and as wide of fleshy, semi-trailing stems which makes for striking containers and baskets. It blooms all summer long until the first frost. A superb annual for shaded areas, with flowers reliably blooming throughout the growing season (May to October).
In the Garden
Begonias are a classic gardeners’ favorite for their ease of growing and beautiful color. Whether you want a new houseplant to add to your collection, something to add to your hanging baskets, or a new addition for your outdoor garden, consider planting begonias.
Caring & Growing
Most varieties prefer bright sun but will tolerate some shade. Some varieties have been developed especially for shady areas.
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9 – 11. Usually grown as an annual outside this range. Begonia is noted for its tolerance to hot and humid summers. Begonia semperflorens does not tolerate frost.
Prefers sun dappled part shade and a good mulch in hot summer climates. Bronze-leaved varieties are more tolerant of full sun. Plants generally tolerate considerable shade, but are generally less floriferous therein.
It is easily grown in average to moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soils. Add organic matter to sandy soils especially while growing in the heat of summer. Wax begonias like good garden soil that is high in organic matter that will retain moisture while keeping the soil cool.
Wax begonias are best grown with consistent moisture throughout the growing season, but tolerate periods of drought due to their thick and waxy leaves which help minimize water loss in hot weather.
When grown as annuals in containers, begonias should be watered by soaking the soil well and not watered again until the surface is dry about 1/2″ down. This is on average every 2-3 days. If planted in the ground, the plant will need frequent watering when first planted.
Moderate fertilization levels are required. Most annuals are grown for their flowers and need a high phosphorus fertilizer like 10-20-10. They should be fertilized monthly. Or fertilize every 2-3 weeks if using a liquid feed program. Avoid high ammonium and high nitrogen levels as it will give big foliage.
Space plants well (12-15) to promote good air circulation and to reduce potential fungal disease problems.
Container plants may be cut back in fall and overwintered indoors in a cool location with reduced watering. Deadheading not necessary for continuous bloom.