Begonias are a popular summer bedding plant that works well in pots, tubs, and hanging baskets. Begonias are a favorite choice among home gardeners, and they can brighten up anything from flower beds to pots. Discover everything you need to know about planting Begonias, cultivating, and keeping these wonderfully lovely blooms! Let’s read the following blog with GardenHow.
The characteristics of Begonias
Begonias are succulent herbaceous plants native to the tropics. They’re known for their stunning flowers and vibrant leaf patterns and hues.
Gardeners’ favorite Begonias are fibrous, rooted Begonias or wax Begonias. On green or red leaf variations, these plants bear white, red, or pink blooms. In the spring, they’re used as bedding plants alongside marigolds, impatiens, and petunias. In warmer climates, they are perennial flowers, but most gardeners treat them as annuals. Wax or fibrous Begonias thrive in annual flower gardens with at least a little midday shade. Although newer varieties, such as ‘Whopper,’ are more sun-tolerant, excessive sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause the plants to suffer in hot summer temperatures. Cooler air temperatures are ideal for their growth. Wax Begonias, on the other hand, will not flower well if placed in severe shadow.
Gardeners’ second most popular outdoor Begonia is tuberous Begonias. These plants emerge from underground tubers as erect or trailing plants with beautiful flower clusters. From late summer to October, they bloom in a variety of colors, from white to deep crimson, with several bicolored types. Tubers are dug and stored indoors over the winter. As soon as summer arrives, Rex and other rhizomatous Begonias are generally grown as houseplants or moved out to a deck or shady porch in a container. More than the little blooms, they are planted for their beautiful leaves. Some of these will creep along the pot’s edge and spillover.
Common Begonia types
Begonias come in over 1000 different species with stunning leaves and flowers for both outdoor and indoor plant enthusiasts. They are available in many different shapes, sizes, and colors.
There are four common types of Begonia plants at a high level:
These plants emerge from underground tubers as erect or trailing plants with beautiful flower clusters. From late summer to October, they bloom in a variety of colors, from white to deep crimson, with several bicolored types. Tubers are dug and stored indoors over the winter. As soon as summer arrives, Rex and other rhizomatous Begonias are generally grown as houseplants or moved out to a deck or shady porch in a container. More than the little blooms, they are planted for their beautiful leaves. Some of these will creep along the pot’s edge and spillover. They also grow taller than wax Begonias, reaching 12 to 18 inches in height as houseplants and 3 feet or more in outdoor containers.
Wax Begonia (Fibrous)
Wax Begonias feature succulent stems and mounded leaves that are shiny, spherical, green, or reddish-brown. Begonia semperflorens, often known as wax, annual, or bedding Begonias, are the most common. When planted under trees or in planters, hanging baskets, or window boxes, these shade-loving plants provide mounds of color. Wax Begonias are commonly grown as annuals, attaining a height and width of 6 to 12 inches. They create 1-1/2-inch single or double flowers in red, pink, or white.
Rex Begonias (Begonia rex varieties), a rhizomatous subgroup, are commonly accessible, marketed year-round by florists and garden retailers, and grow to be 12 to 18 inches tall and wide. They’re a popular houseplant because of their distinctive foliage, but they can be finicky. They look great in summer flower gardens and pots, especially when paired with ferns and other semi-shady plants.
Read more: 10 Stunning Types of Rex Begonia Varieties
Cane Begonias (Angel Wing Begonias varieties)
Cane kinds have lovely foliage and bloom in a variety of hues thanks to their upright growth style and segmented stems. Angel Wing Begonias, so named because of their wing-shaped leaves, are also part of this family. They’re popular as houseplants, but they can also be cultivated outdoors. Their size varies according to the growing conditions, ranging from 6 to 12-inch houseplants to 5-foot bushy plants.
When to plant Begonias?
Unlike most other annual flowers, Begonias can be started in mid-to-late January. Begonias are cold-sensitive and should not be placed outside until temperatures are above 50°F at night. Begonias should be started indoors eight weeks before the latest frost date for earlier flowering. Plant the tubers 1 inch deep in a wet growth mix with a little water. Transplant the plants into separate 8 inches pots or combine several into a bigger container after they have one or two leaves. If you’re putting the sprouted tubers directly into the garden, space them about 5 inches apart and cover them with 1 inch of dirt. Lightly water the plants until they grow many sets of leaves. Take care not to overwater the plants.
Where to plant Begonias?
Begonias thrive in dappled or partial shade. However, they should not be planted in direct sunlight. If you’re growing Begonias in a greenhouse, you may need to provide some shade.
Tuberous Begonias thrive in containers and hanging baskets. Because of their brittle stems and heavy blossoms, they should be grown in a sheltered location. If the flowers are too hot, they will quickly fade. In combined summer displays of various bedding plants, fibrous-rooted Begonias can be packed rather tightly.
Foliage Begonias thrive in dappled shade and make excellent houseplants. They will spend their summer vacation in the garden, in the dappled shade.
How to plant Begonias?
Which soil is best for Begonias?
Begonias like well-drained soil, but will grow in acidic, sandy, or clay soil if it is well-drained. Because Begonias are prone to stem and root rot, it’s critical that they have a good drainage system. Choose a lighter potting soil with more perlite or make your own soil mix of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil to avoid overwatering your Begonias. Use an equal amount of each type of soil.
Planting Begonias from tubers
Choose and prepare Begonias tubers
When you compare two tuberous Begonia plants side by side, it’s easy to detect the differences in quality. Larger tubers (as seen on the left) result in larger plants with more stems and blooms. GardenHow sells tubers that grow into enormous, complete plants and are 5–6 cm in diameter. Begonia tubers that are ready to be planted should have a potato-like density and firmness.
How to plant Begonias from tubers
Planting Begonias tubers indoors
- Look for a draining pot, a hanging basket, or a shallow tray.
- Fill your containers with the light, loose planting mix that drains easily. For container planting Begonias, potting soil works nicely.
- Just below the soil surface, plant the bulb hollow side up. Feel for little points on both sides to decide which side to plant up. These points will provide additional growth opportunities. Look for any signs of ancient roots, which will be dry and small. Place the tuber on its side if you can’t figure out which side is up.
- Place the container on a window sill or somewhere else that gets indirect light. Make sure the temperature doesn’t drop below 60 °F in this area. To encourage sprouting, cover the pot with paper or plastic wrap. Water lightly until growth begins; the tubers are susceptible to rotting if they are overwatered.
- The development of leaves and stems accelerates as the tubers begin to sprout (about 6 to 8 weeks). Remove the paper or plastic wrap from the tubers and expose them to additional light. However, the tubers will still need to be protected from the direct noon sun. Water frequently, never allowing the soil to entirely dry out, but never leaving it to sit moist, as this may induce rotting.
Read more: Gardening Guides for planting Begonia tubers
Planting Begonias from seeds
Choose and prepare Begonia seeds
Begonias come in a variety of colors and can be grown from seed. Some species, such as rex Begonias, are simpler to grow from root or leaf cuttings, but growing other types from seed is a rewarding experience. Begin with wax Begonias, Dragon wing Begonias, Angel Wing Begonias, cascading Begonias, or tuberous Begonias when starting Begonias from seed for the first time.
How to plant Begonias from seed?
- Fill a container or tray with fine potting mix (a seed blend would be ideal) and moisten thoroughly, allowing any excess water to drain away. The soil should be wet but not saturated. You don’t want any dips or depressions in the soil.
- Now evenly distribute the seeds across the surface of the mixture. It will be difficult to uniformly distribute them if they are not pelleted but try. To ensure they’re in contact with the growth mix, lightly firm them with a block of wood, but don’t cover them with soil: they need light to germinate.
- After that, sprinkle the seed container with lukewarm water and place it in a clear plastic bag or mini-greenhouse to maintain the high humidity required for successful germination.
- Position the container 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) below the fluorescent lamp. Its mild warmth will promote germination while also keeping the container warm. Even at night, the temperature should be above 70°F (21°C).
- Tiny green leaves should appear in 7 to 14 days, maybe a little longer. Remove the covering when the leaves are large enough to see. This will allow more air to circulate.
- Maintain sufficient lighting and water when the soil begins to dry up; the soil should always be slightly damp. Instead of water from above with a watering can whose stream could knock the tiny seedlings over, pour lukewarm water into the tray below and let the earth “drink” its fill of moisture.
- Move the seedlings into individual tiny pots or plug trays when they have two or three leaves. Because they’re still small and vulnerable, it’s a good idea to cover them with a clear plastic dome or bag for a few days while they recover from transplant shock.
Moving Begonias outside
Once the threat of frost has passed, you can move the plants outside. The tubers can either be kept in the pots to grow or transplanted to an outside garden bed.
Consider these four factors for healthy, happy Begonia tubers once the Begonia plants you started or tubers you’re planning to plant are ready for outside growth:
- Choose a spot where they will thrive! Begonias prefer semi-shade and do not fare well in direct sunlight. Strong gusts may destroy tall Begonia stems; select a position where they will be protected from these drying and damaging winds.
- Hydration is crucial! Begonias despise dry weather. Make sure they have plenty of water, particularly during hot weather. On hot, humid days, if you find your Begonias are looking a little drooping, give them a big drink of water and watch the leaves and blossoms perk up in no time.
- Clean and maintain the plants for maximum energy! During the growth season, remove all wilted leaves and blooms to stimulate flowering throughout the summer. This will not only help maintain energy for future blooms, but it will also help avoid the formation of fungal infections.
- Fertilize the plants with the most flowers! To ensure healthy leaves and blooms throughout the season, add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil during planting, such as Espoma Bulb Tone. Combine your balanced slow-release fertilizer with a liquid fertilizer according to package directions for growing Begonias in pots or hanging baskets. When the bulbs are growing in the summer, apply liquid fertilizer to encourage strong stems, leaves, robust blooms, and roots.
Also read: How to grow Begonias as a Houseplant?
While Begonias cannot withstand long periods of intense sunlight, they do well in a mix of partial shade and mild light. The best spot for this compromise is on the north or east side of your house, beneath a huge tree or covered patio to block the sun.
Flowering tuberous and fibrous Begonias develop more leaves than blossoms in more densely shaded areas, but rhizomatous Begonias (which are planted for their foliage) thrive.
Begonia’s soil and water needs
Plant your Angel Wing Begonia in a damp (but not soggy) soil combination with plenty of organic matter. A little “heavy” soil will allow the plant’s extensive root system to grow effectively and support its tall stems. You can keep your Angel Wing Begonia in a pot made of terracotta or clay to help wick away excess moisture and keep the soil from becoming soggy.
Angel Wing Begonias prefer to be kept consistently moist, and the edges of their leaves will begin to brown if they aren’t getting enough water. Saturate the plant thoroughly and allow it to drain once the soil has dried about an inch from the surface.
Apply 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer diluted three parts water to one part fertilizer when you first plant (or transplant) your Begonias and every three weeks thereafter for healthy plants and abundant blooms.
Fertilizer solutions poured around the base of the plant work better than fertilizer sprayed directly on the plant; direct contact with strong fertilizer sprays might harm the sensitive leaves and stems of some species.
Pruning is also an important step in Begonia care. Each year, tuberous Begonias will naturally die back. Reduce the amount of water you use in the late summer and early fall, and trim back any yellowing leaves.
Rhizomatous and wax types do not die back, so they are pinched or lightly trimmed every year to keep them healthy and stimulate full, compact growth. This is best done in the spring in warmer climates. If you live in a cooler region, you can clean them up in the fall before bringing them inside for the winter. Before bringing them inside, trim them back and inspect them for signs of pests or disease. Slowly acclimatize them to their new interior position by placing them in a bright window at first and gradually reducing the amount of light. This will help to avoid tension from causing the leaves to fall off. Reverse the process and move them back outside as soon as the weather warms up.
- When making a clean, angled cut just above a leaf or flower node when cutting back rhizomatous or wax plants, angle the cut away from the node as illustrated. Younger plants (under 3 years old) can be pruned back to one or two nodes above the soil to foster fuller development. Pruning elderly plants should be done sparingly.
- Pinch the tops of cane Begonias when they’re about 6 inches tall to encourage bushier growth. Canes that are substantially taller than the rest of the plant should be cut back into the soil. Old, brown, barren, or dead canes should be buried. Younger plants can be pruned by half by making clean, angled cuts immediately above a node, angling the cut away from the node.
- Pruning isn’t necessary for Rex Begonias. Pinch back young plants to encourage fuller development, and use angled cuts to eliminate any lanky or bare stems.
Manage diseases and pests.
Bacterial leaf spot and blight
- Symptoms: On leaves, water-soaked regions encircled by yellow halos appear. Plants die one leaf at a time as they age.
- Pathogen: Xanthomonas campestris pv. Begonia.
- Plant management: Purchase plants that are disease-free. Affected plants should be discarded, especially Rieger-types that are systemically infected. Because Rex and tuberous types are not systemically infected, remove contaminated leaves. Irrigate the leaves without wetting them. Infected plants should not be propagated. Remove all agricultural debris.
- Symptoms: Cuttings decay from the bottom up. Tan patches appear on the leaves. The crowns of established plants decay. A dusty gray fungal growth covers infected tissue.
- Pathogen: Botrytis cinerea.
- Management: By spreading plants and venting to increase air circulation, you can keep humidity low. Remove any blooms or leaves that are dead or dying. To safeguard your plants, use a fungicide.
- Symptoms: Plants have become stunted. Infected leaves acquire an excess of crimson pigment. Some cultivars’ leaves develop bronzed or water-soaked regions. Small dark leaf patches can be found on fibrous-rooted varieties. Despite high infection, some cultivars are infection-free.
- Pathogen: Aphelenchoides fragariae.
- Management: Plants that are nematode-free should be purchased. Avoid splashing and overhead irrigation. Throw away diseased plants.
- Symptoms: On leaves, petals, and stems, a white, mealy fungal growth appears. The tissue beneath the fungus could perish.
- Pathogen: Oidium
- Management: To detect the onset of disease, examine plants thoroughly and frequently. To protect plants, maintain a fungicide program. To safeguard your plants, use a fungicide.
Pythium root rot
- Symptoms: Seedlings are doomed. As established plants collapse and die, gleaming blackened spots appear on the stems and petioles of established plants at and just above the soil line.
- Pathogen: Pythium
- Management: Put your plants in pasteurized potting soil. Hose ends should be kept off the ground. Don’t overwater the plants. To safeguard your plants, use a fungicide.
Rhizoctonia crown rot
- Symptoms: At the soil line, stem decay. Plants wither and perish. A fine webbing of fungal growth can be detected between the infected stems and surrounding soil particles.
- Pathogen: Rhizoctonia
- Management: Put your plants in pasteurized potting soil. To safeguard your plants, use a fungicide.
- Symptoms: It’s possible to get mosaic, deformed leaves, pale yellow ring spots, severe chlorotic mottling of leaves, or plant stunting.
- Pathogen: Tobacco necrosis virus, impatiens necrotic spot, tobacco ringspot, broadbean wilt, cucumber mosaic
- Management: Purchase plants that are symptom-free. Throw away diseased plants. Put your plants in pasteurized potting soil. Keep them under control to prevent the spread of aphids and thrips.
Begonia care at the end of the season
Cuttings from stems and leaves can be used to propagate all Begonias. This is a simple method for rapidly growing additional plants. Remove the mother plant and the newer side plants from the soil in the spring. Fresh soil should be used to replant. Planting in a container ensures that young plants have the support they require to live a long life.
Begonia tubers may be overwintered in zones 2–8, which means they can be moved indoors and regenerate the following year. Bring your Begonias inside and grow them as houseplants in zones 2–8 in the fall, once the leaves turn yellow or the temperature drops below 45°F at night. When exposed to central heat indoors, they may benefit from being near a humidifier. Set up a pebble tray under the pots and fill them with water occasionally to maintain the humidity level if you’re keeping Begonias indoors as houseplants in the winter.
Save tubers for the following spring. This is how you do it:
- After the first frost has destroyed the tops and the foliage has yellowed, you can pull up the plants and their tubers from the ground.
- Leave some dirt on the roots while cutting down the foliage.
- Allow your tubers to dry for one week in a warm, dry spot away from direct sunlight.
- Store tubers between layers of paper or dry sand in a room with a temperature range of 40°F to 50°F. Because they’re sensitive to rot, it’s critical to keep them dry.
- The tubers can then be repotted inside in late winter or early spring to give them a strong start for the new season!
Taking a Begonia cutting
You can take a cutting from your Begonia to serve as a starting plant in a variety of ways. Let’s look at the many methods for cutting Begonias.
- The most common method of propagating a houseplant is by taking a stem cutting. Many Begonia houseplants have cane-like stems from which leaves emerge. The plant will quickly sprout from the stems, so snip off an inch or two with some leaves attached, as seen in the image below, and you’re all set for success. It doesn’t have to be the stem’s tip; any portion of 2 inches or larger will suffice.
- Taking a leaf-cutting is a Begonia-specific method. Simply clip a healthy, large leaf at the point where it meets the leaf stem to do this.
- A rhizome cutting is similar to a stem cutting, with the exception that leaves are not always included. Rhizomatous Begonias recover so quickly that you can cut a rhizome into 2-inch pieces and still have leaves and roots as long as the sections have growth nodes.
Begonia propagation from stem cuttings
Begonia propagation in water
Simply partially immerse the stem in water, leaving the leaves sticking out, to propagate your Begonia in water. Then, to ensure ideal growing circumstances, place the vase or glass containing the plant in a light and warm location. Avoid direct sunlight, like water in a clear container will quickly heat up, and Begonias don’t like it anyhow.
After a few days or weeks (depending on the season and circumstances), your Begonia cuttings will have formed a root system and possibly even pushed out their first new leaves.
To pot up the new plants, use some light but rich soil (peat moss mixed with perlite works well) and keep them mildly damp. They may be irritable at first, but after a brief period of adjustment, they should continue to grow.
Begonia propagation in soil
To propagate in this manner, simply fill a couple of tiny pots halfway with the same light yet rich soil and insert the cuttings. Keep the soil wet but not soggy.
Because you won’t be able to see whether the cuttings are rooting well, you won’t know whether they are doing well for the first several weeks. It’s natural for the leaves to go limp while the stem tries to establish a root system. You’ll know your propagation attempt was successful when you observe the first leaf growth.
Begonia propagation from the leaf
Use a plastic seedling tray if you want to propagate your Begonia using leaves, which is possible with most houseplant varieties.
The most straightforward method is to use the leaves whole. The petiole is the portion of the leaf that links to the leaf stem. If you have any rooting hormone on hand, dip it in it.
Pin the leaf down so the petiole hits the soil but isn’t buried, or stick it in the dirt so the petiole contacts the soil but isn’t buried. If you choose the second option, you can even create little cuts/nicks in each leaf vein to encourage new development from many locations rather than simply the petiole.
Once your leaves are dry, you can place them on a sunny windowsill or in a germination station (a covered mini greenhouse for starting seeds). Then just wait while keeping the soil lightly moistened. From the petiole tip, a little version of the mother plant should emerge, receiving nutrition from both the leaf and its own small root system.
You may even separate a single Begonia leaf into pieces that can all be utilized to develop new plants if you really want to take things to the next level. If the mother plant doesn’t have many leaves to pluck, this is generally an excellent option.
Cut the leaf into pieces with a clean knife so that each contains a vein. Then simply follow the above methods and you should have plenty of new little Begonias!
How long does it take Begonia seeds to sprout?
It takes 15 to 50 days for Begonia seeds to germinate. As the Begonia seeds grow, transplant as needed and continue to grow. Before planting out at 20 cm apart, the Begonia plants must be acclimated to the outside conditions.
Begonias take a long time to germinate, but once established, they are well worth the wait. Sowing from seed is a cost-effective approach to growing a wonderful collection of Begonias. It will thrive in a bright location on either side of the door and can be brought inside for the winter.
How do you keep Begonias blooming?
One of the most important keys to maintaining Begonias blooming large from spring through fall is to provide a consistent, low dose of nutrition.
Persistent flowering, whether in flower beds, pots, or hanging baskets, gradually depletes the soil of the resources required to generate and grow new blooms. And this is when a little assistance may make all the difference!
When cultivated in pots and containers, Begonias should be lightly fertilized every 10 to 14 days for optimal blooms. Fertilizing bedding plants once every three to four weeks is sufficient. However, instead of using full-strength treatments, utilize a low amount of nutrients.
Read more: All about How to keep Begonias blooming
Are Begonias annual or perennial?
Depending on the variety, it can be “Begonias annual or perennial”. Besides, other factors, such as zones, care methods, and protection are also affect Begonia’s life cycle.
Under the correct conditions, you can plant Begonias as perennials, but most people consider Begonias as annual flowers. Growing them as an annual bloom is much easier, but if you want them every year, you’ll have to buy and replace them. With a few overwintering tactics detailed later in this post, you can grow them as a fragile perennial if you are diligent and stubborn.
Why do my Begonias keep dying?
The most common causes of Begonia’s death are overwatering and underwatering. Begonias wilt quickly when their soil dries out, yet keeping the soil too damp can cause dramatic drooping from root rot. Drooping can also be caused by temperature stress, transplant shock, pests, and disease.
Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out how to plant Begonias. Planting Begonias can be difficult at times, but each time you face difficulty, you’re gaining the knowledge and abilities you’ll need to avoid it in the future.
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any additional questions about Begonia propagation or if you want to share your own experiences with this fascinating house plant species!