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

Begonia, Shrublike

Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Flowers


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 ‘Richmondensis’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Begonia ‘Richmondensis’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Begonia, Shrublike

This large class is marked by multiple stems that are soft and green rather than bamboo-like.They are grown for both foliage and flowers. The leaves are very interesting—some are heavily textured; others grow white or red “hairs”; still others develop a soft, felt-like coating. Most grow upright and bushy, but others are less erect and are well suited to hanging baskets. Flowers in shades of pink, red, white, or peach can come at any time, depending on species or variety.

Outstanding examples include fern-leaf begonia (B. foliosa), with inch-long leaves packed tightly on a twiggy plant for a fernlike look. Its long, drooping stems hold small white flowers nearly year-round in mild weather. Fuchsia begonia (sold as B. fuchsioides or B. foliosa miniata) has delicate stems to 2 1/2 ft. tall, with dangling rose-pink to rose-red flowers that resemble fuchsias. The sturdy, sun- and wind-tolerant ‘Richmondensis’ can reach 2 1/2 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, with arching red stems and shiny, deep green leaves with red undersides. Its vivid pink to crimson or white flowers develop from darker buds nearly year-round.

Care consists of repotting into a larger container as the plant outgrows its pot. Water when soil begins to dry on surface. Prune to shape; pinch tips to encourage branching.

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