Annual Begonias

Begonias

A group of half-hardy annuals and tender perennials, with fibrous, tuberous or rhizomatous roots. A dazzling range of forms and flower types are available, many with rich ornamental foliage and brightly colourful flowers. Fibrous-rooted Begonias are mainly used for bedding, whereas tuberous-rooted forms are good for containers and hanging baskets. Most forms of tuberous-rooted begonias have large blowsy flowers.

Family: Begoniaceae

Botanical Name: Begonia

Foliage: small or large glossy or hairy leaves. Larger leaves are often patterned.

Flowers: small or large flowers, single or double. In a range of colours from red, yellow, orange, white or pink.

Flowering Period: summer to first frosts (June to September).

Soil: use a fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Best in a free draining loam or sandy soil, neutral to slightly acid pH.

Conditions: flowers best in full sun but will tolerate a little shade. Grow in an east or west facing aspect in a sheltered or exposed position.

Habit: bushy, tuberous or fibrous rooted (trailing varieties also available).

Type: Tender perennial.

Origin: found throughout the tropics and sub-tropical areas.

Hardiness: H1b - can be grown outside in the summer. Protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Begonias

Begonias provide continuous bright colour throughout the summer until the first frosts. They are easy to care for and all grow well in sun or partial shade.

Suitable for any garden type. Most forms make good patio or container plants and trailing forms are ideal for hanging baskets. The more exotic varieties are ideal as house plants.

Pot grown begonias can be taken indoors before the first frosts, where they will continue to flower for longer. If you have a heated greenhouse (10 to 15°C), you can grow them all year round.

Taking Care of Begonias

Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily. Avoid wetting the foliage and do not allow the compost to dry out as this will cause the flowers to drop. To improve flowering, feed every week with a high potassium feed, such as a tomato fertiliser. Alternatively apply a slow release form suitable for flowering plants.

The stems and foliage of tall varieties can be brittle, so provide support as the plants grow.

Lift and over-winter tuberous forms in a dry, dark place at the end of the season. Pot-up and start into growth in early spring (March or April at 18°C (64°F)) and plant outside after all danger of frost has passed.

Pruning

Deadheading is not normally required.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by caterpillars, aphids, mites, mealybugs, thrips and vine weevils. Prone to moulds, powdery mildews and stem rot.

Propagating Begonias

Depending on the variety they can be propagated by seed or by leaf, tuber and stem cuttings in late spring.

Popular Varieties of Begonias Grown in UK Gardens

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Begonia Amber Delight

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There are many different species and cultivars of Begonia, well over 1000 in fact. Some are just grown for the intricate shape and colour of their leaves and others for their blousy and brightly coloured flowers.

B. multiflora a small form begonia that bears masses of double flowers.

B. pendula trailing hybrids, many with long fuschia like flowers. Ideal for hanging baskets.

B. semperflorens (Brazil) fibrous rooted bedding or wax begonias. Red, pink, salmon or white flowers, with pale shining green to bronze roundish leaves. Height from 6 to 9in (15 to 22cm). A large number of hybrids are available, including:

'Carmen' bright rose flowers.
'Cocktail' mixed colours.
'Flamingo' white flowers with rose picotee edges.
'Galaxy Mixed' mixed colours.
'Lotto Mixed' mixed colours. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Options Mixed' mixed colours. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Organdy Mixed' F1 Hybrid, very attractive mixed. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Summer Jewels Mixed' mixed colours. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Supernova Mixed' mixed colours.

B. tuberhybrida tuberous hybrids in an array of shapes and colours, which include the popular ‘Nonstop’ varieties.

'Apricot Shades Improved' F1 Hybrid. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Non-Stop®' F1 Hybrid. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Scentsation Mixed' F1 Hybrid. Available from Thompson & Morgan.
'Show Angels Mixed' F1 Hybrid. Available from Thompson & Morgan.