Flower plants can give an enormous amount of solace and begonia makes no exception. Begonia flowers are vibrant, diverse, and stunning. They are available in various shapes and colors, adorning gardens and interiors with their beauty and charm.
Here is our guide to learn how to grow begonia, a wonderful tropical plant that has around 1,600 different species.
- 1 Begonia classification
- 2 Begonia care: practical advice
- 3 Begonia flowering
- 4 The main varieties of Begonia
- 5 Begonia: what is the meaning of the flower?
- 6 More on tropical plants
Begonia is a perennial plant of tropical origin, belonging to the Begoniaceae family. The name comes from a botany enthusiast, Michel Bégon, who was also the governor of Santo Domingo.
This plant is appreciated for the beauty of its flowers, very diverse and colorful.
This plant is commonly classified into three large groups:
- Tuberous begonias
- Fibrous-rooted begonias (also known as fibrous begonias)
- and Rhizomatous begonias
However, there is a characteristic that we find in every species: the presence of male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecy).
The tuberous begonia is made up of tubers accompanied by very colorful stems and flowers. This plant is not suitable for growing in the garden, but prefers growing in an apartment. During the winter season it enters the vegetative rest phase.
Fibrous begonias, on the contrary, are ideal for outdoor cultivation. They produce flowers in spring and throughout the summer season.
The rhizomatous begonia is mostly found indoors and appears as an evergreen shrub. The root consists of a rhizome and its flowers are generally not very brightly coloured.
Begonia care: practical advice
This plant needs a few simple precautions depending on the species it belongs to. To ensure that it blooms well, it must be placed in a sunny place, but where the rays are not too direct, otherwise many small dark spots on the leaves will form.
Both for cultivation in the garden and for cultivation in pots, the soil must always be enriched with natural fertilizer and must be well moist.
In the case of gardens, bury the bulbs about 3 cm deep in the months of April or May. While in the pot, prepare a base of at least 5 cm with expanded clay, arrange the bulbs and then cover with soil and peat.
Watering will be abundant in summer and reduced during winter. The tuberous variety is the only one that requires lower amounts of water.
We always advise you to wait until the soil is dry before proceeding with the next watering. This will prevent the formation of dangerous waterlogging.
You don’t need to prune the plant, but simply remove the dry leaves.
Do begonias like the sun or shade?
Although begonias adapt well to different light conditions, they generally prefer light shade or part sun, that is a few hours of morning sun and shade in the afternoon. However, different varieties of the flower in different climates might suggest different degrees of direct exposure to sunlight.
The flowering of this plant is linked to the subspecies it belongs to. Some plants can flower all year round, others begin with the arrival of the warm season and continue until the first winter frosts appear.
- The male flowers are more showy and have four tepals divided into pairs of different sizes.
- The female flowers on the contrary have four equal tepals (They are called tepals and not petals because there is no difference between the corolla and calyx of the flower).
The main varieties of Begonia
Let’s now discover the main species widespread in our apartments and gardens.
Wax Begonia (Begonia Semperflorens)
Begonia Semperflorens – commonly known as Wax Begonia or Bedding Begonia – is a popular flowering plant often used in gardens and as houseplants. It is an annual plant that flowers from spring to autumn.
- The leaves are shiny, oval and with bronzed reflections
- The flowers are reddish in color, but can also be pink or white.
This plant is collected in many small bushes and is native to Brazil.
Its height varies from 30 to 40 centimeters. It is generally used to enrich hedges and walls, it grows without particular care and spreads rapidly.
It appreciates the direct rays of the sun, while it does not tolerate the cold.
In many places the leaves are also eaten in salads.
King Begonia (Rex Begonia)
This species belongs to the rhizomatous species. King Begonia is native to Assam, India, and is cultivated mostly for the characteristic appearance of its leaves, which appear covered in light down and have different colored shades.
It produces small white flowers and is among the most grown plants in apartments.
Coral Begonia (Begonia Corallina)
This is another very particular species of this flower: it is also known ad Beefsteak Begonia, due to its reddish or coral-colored leaves. The leaves are generally oval or heart-shaped, dark green or bright green in color. Many varieties of this plant have decorative spots or edges on the leaves.
The flowers are small, but very showy. They are usually pink, red or orange in color, and are often gathered in clusters. The shape of the flowers may vary slightly between different varieties. It grows up to 35-40 cm in height.
Taking care of it is quite easy and this makes it popular among houseplant enthusiasts: you need to find a bright position, keep the soil well drained and water regularly avoiding stagnation to keep the plant thriving and healthy.
Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia Tamaya)
This is a hybrid of the Begonia Maculata and it’s one of the most popular varieties of begonia. With its very particular polka-dotted leaves and spectacular flowering in clusters, it gives our environments liveliness and a pinch of extra colour.
Native to Brazil, the polka dot begonia is a vigorous shrub that can reach a height of 40 cm. The plant consists of a main stem from which numerous branches originate with leaves between 15 and 30 cm long.
Rieger Begonia (Elatior Begonia)
The elatior begonia belongs to the tuberous species and blooms all year round, producing flowers that can vary from very bright red to salmon or yellow. This species was obtained from the cross between the begonia tuberhybrida and the begonia socotrana. Recommended for cultivation in apartments.
The pendula begonia owes its name to the characteristic pendulous shape of its flowers, which make it the ideal plant for embellishing terraces and balconies. It is recommended to grow it at a temperature of around 68° F (20° C). The flowers are of different colors and range from white to pink, yellow or fuchsia.
Begonia: what is the meaning of the flower?
Begonia is commonly given as gifts to friends to mark friendliness and hospitality, so it makes a great gift to bring when going to someone’s home. In South American countries it is instead associated with wealth.
In the nineteenth century it had a completely different meaning: giving this plant with flowers of two different colors was a symbol of hypocrisy. Today it is used a lot to purify environments, so much so that NASA scientists have classified it among the species to be saved for life inside aerospace stations.
More on tropical plants
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