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Begonia boliviensis (tuberous begonia) (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Begonia boliviensis (tuberous begonia) (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Zone
Zones 14-24, H1, H2
Partial Sun
Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Begonia, Rhizomatous

Begoniaceae
Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Flowers

BEGONIA

Grown for textured, multicolored foliage, saucer-size flowers, or lacy clusters of smaller blooms.

Grow as perennials in Zones 14–24, H1, and H2, except as noted. Can also be grown as annuals anywhere or dug and stored. Outdoors, most grow best in pots in the ground or in hanging baskets in filtered shade, with rich, porous, fast-draining soil, consistent but light feeding, and enough water to keep soil moist but not soggy. Most thrive as indoor plants, in a greenhouse, or under a lath. Some prefer terrarium conditions. Almost all require at least moderate humidity. In areas with hot, dry summers or indoors in winter, set pots in pebble-lined saucers or trays kept filled with water to below pot level.

Most are easily propagated from leaf, stem, or rhizome cuttings. They also grow from dust-fine seed. Of the many hundreds of species and varieties, relatively few are sold widely.

 

Begonia, Rhizomatous

Like rex begonias, these grow from a rhizome. Although some have handsome flowers, they are grown primarily for foliage, which varies widely in shape, color, and texture among species and varieties. Among the dozens of species and varieties in this group is the old favorite B. masoniana, called iron cross begonia; its large, puckered green leaves have a chocolate brown pattern resembling a Maltese cross.

Rhizomatous begonias perform well as houseplants: give them bright light and water only when the top inch or so of soil is dry. Plant them in wide, shallow pots. They flower from winter through summer, the season varying among specific plants. White to pink flowers appear in clusters on erect stems above the foliage. Rhizomes will grow over edge of pot, eventually forming a ball-shaped plant; if you wish, cut rhizomes back to pot. The old rhizome will branch and grow new leaves. Root the pieces of rhizome in a mixture of half peat moss, half perlite.

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