Secrets to Growing Beautiful Begonias

My Garden Life
June 16, 2021
Table of Contents
Begonias are not only popular as houseplants and for filling summer flower beds, but they are also easy to grow and come in a wide range of varieties. Some types of begonias are grown for lovely blooms and others for their ornamental leaves. Whatever reason or variety you choose, you can grow beautiful begonias, even if you don’t have a green thumb.

Begonia Colors and Varieties

The variety of begonias you choose depends on where you want to grow them. You can choose from bedding plants, container varieties or plants with colorful leaves.
a striking mix of red, pink and white wax begonias in a planter

Bedding begonias, also known as wax begonias, are small and bushy with thick leaves and abundant flowers. They’re incredibly versatile and ideal for adding color to flower beds, baskets and window boxes. Their glossy, “waxy” foliage comes in shades ranging from green to deep bronze. Wax begonia flowers bloom in shades of pink, red and white.
windowsill with pots of white and yellow tuberous begonias and an orange-flowered elatior begonia

All begonias are suitable for growing in pots. Smaller types, such as elatior and tuberous begonias, are perfect for a table centerpiece or gift plant.
Planter filled with brilliant red Bolivian begonia flowers

If you’re looking for a more bold, tropical feel then you’ll want to try angel wing, Dragon Wing, and Bolivian begonias. Either type looks fantastic in a large container of mixed annuals or featured individually in a hanging basket.
Close up of a rex begonia plant with two small pink flowers

Rex begonias, with their colorful foliage and unusual leaf shapes, are a no-fuss way to enjoy color all season long – even without flowers! Miniature begonias are sized right for growing in a terrarium or as houseplants.

Tips for Choosing Begonia Plants

garden gloved hands holding a pack of pink wax begonias ready for planting

It’s best to buy seedlings rather than start from seed because seeds can be small and difficult to handle. In spring, go to your local nursery and choose young plants that are lush and compact. Look for a seedling with at least one flower so you can choose the color you prefer.
Avoid buying plants that are tall, spindly and have few leaves. Also, plants that have yellowing leaves and too many flowers are not your best choice.

Best Location for Begonia Plants

Planter of bright red wax begonias placed on top of a rustic barrel

Shade or semi-shade is best for begonias. Plants can tolerate full sun in cooler areas where the temperature remains below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Begonia varieties with red leaves are more tolerant of heat and sun, so they are ideal for hanging baskets or pots in sunny locations.
Begonias thrive in rich, well-drained soil that is moist, but not soggy. Keep them well-watered, especially if grown under trees where natural rainfall may not reach.

Tips for Planting Begonias

curved garden border with newly planted rows of begonias in the foreground and host plants in the back

Once you’ve chosen healthy seedlings and a suitable location, you can plant your begonias.
  • After the last frost in your area, dig a hole large enough for the size of the plant’s root ball.
  • Using our trowel, loosen the soil and mix in some compost.
  • Push the plant upward out of the container and loosen the root ball so roots can grow more easily.
  • Plants seedlings at the same level as they were in the original tray. Replace all the soil, tamping it down to make sure stems and roots are firmly in place.
  • Repeat this for all plants, placing them 4 inches apart.
  • Water the bed when finished planting and mulch with pine bark.

How to Care for Begonias

Pendulous begonia in a metal container hanging from chains

Begonias are easy to care for and resistant to disease and many pests. There is no need to deadhead begonias because they are “self-cleaners.” The old blooms are constantly replaced with new ones.
If you are growing large begonias in planters, you can pinch back the stems as needed to maintain the desired plant size.
One of the more serious threats to begonias are snails and slugs. You can protect your plants with slug pellets found at garden centers. Or, you can try a more natural remedy, such as “beer traps” around the base of the plants.

Tips for Creating an Eye-Catching Garden

a beautiful border mix of begonia, dusty miller, coleus, and melampodium

Begonias are often paired with other sun-loving plants to create beautiful color combinations. Impatiens, coleus, dusty miller and marigolds have similar growing conditions and offer contrasts in color. Mix them together for an eye-catching display. If you love easy-care annuals, you’ll want to check out our list of the Top 10 Easy to Grow Annuals.

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