By: Heather Rhoades
Begonias are a popular houseplant. Some varieties of begonia houseplants are grown for their flowers while others are grown for their striking foliage. Growing begonias as houseplants only requires a little bit of knowledge in order to keep them looking their very best indoors. Let’s take a look at how to care for begonias as houseplants.
The first thing to do when learning how to care for begonias indoors is to determine what kind of begonia you have. Begonias belong to one of three types — tuberous, fibrous and rhizomatous. Generally, fibrous and rhizomatous begonias make excellent houseplants while tuberous begonias can be grown as houseplants but have a harder time surviving due to the need for higher humidity and light than the other two kinds.
Care of begonias indoors starts with proper location. One of the tips for growing begonia as houseplants is to place them somewhere where they will get bright, indirect light and will get plenty of humidity.
If the air in your house is dry, especially in the winter, it is a good idea to set your begonia houseplants on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. This will allow your growing begonias to get the humidity they need indoors without water logging the soil or exposing the leaves to excess moisture that could cause disease.
Begonias grown indoors are especially susceptible to root rot and overwatering. When you take care of begonias, make sure that you only water them when they need to be watered. Many experts suggest you actually wait until the plant shows signs of being dry, such as drooping leaves, before you water them. This will help prevent accidental overwatering, which is the main reason for begonias dying when grown indoors. Also, when you water your begonia houseplant, make sure to water below the leaves in order to avoid inviting a fungal disease.
Another tip for growing begonia plants indoors is that they are naturally pest resistant. It is extremely rare to have a begonia develop a pest problem. But, they are still susceptible to fungus issues, like powdery mildew, which is why it is best to keep the leaves dry.
Growing begonias as houseplants can fill your home with lovely flowers and foliage. In the right location, begonia houseplants can flourish indoors.
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Rex begonias (Begonia rex) are tropical plants, prized for their colorfully patterned and intriguingly shaped leaves. Although they are at home in a shady garden, they are also popular as houseplants. Many people collect and display several varieties. Most rex begonias sold today are named hybrids, although they are not always labeled as such.
Rex begonia hybrids have been developed to have unusual markings, leaf shapes, and colors. The leaves grow on short leaf stalks, from the underground rhizome. The leaf edges and undersides are covered with short red hairs.
|Botanical Name||Begonia rex|
|Common Name||Rex begonias|
|Plant Type||Annuals that can be grown as a houseplant|
|Mature Size||Leaves grow 4–9 inches long|
|Sun Exposure||Medium to high light|
|Soil Type||Light and rich|
|Hardiness Zones||10, 11|
|Native Area||South and Central America, Africa, southern Asia|
Cane begonias have stiff, upright stems that give them their common name, and produce clusters of dangling flowers in shades of red, orange, pink, or white year-round. Leaves are spotted, banded, or splotched with color, and wing shaped, giving them the once-common name angel wing begonias.
Landscape favorites include вЂTorchвЂ™ (red flowers) and вЂAlbaвЂ™ (ever-blooming white). вЂSophie CecileвЂ™ is a reluctant bloomer, but its robust, five-foot foliage makes it a landscape standout. For South Florida gardeners these plants provide year-round interest however, in North Florida they usually die to the ground during the winter.
Growth Habit: Tuberous begonias can be upright or trailing, depending on the variety. Tuberous begonias can be grown in the ground under trees or in shady parts of your garden, or in containers placed in shady areas of your porch, patio, or yard.
Staking: Trailing varieties of tuberous begonias are meant to creep, so they do not need staking. Upright tuberous begonias, however, can benefit from staking so the flower stems stand tall to make it easier to viewing the beautiful flowers. When upright varieties are 4 to 6 inches tall, place a narrow bamboo or metal stake in the soil near the main stem. Fasten the stem to the stake with plant ties or garden twine, being careful not to damage the stem. Add more ties to provide ongoing support as the plant grows.
Watering: Begonias need moist soil, but are very susceptible to rotting under wet conditions. Water slightly every few days, or when the soil dries out. Water less frequently if you have regular rain. Water containers of begonias more frequently, but always be cautious to not over water, or their stems might rot. Always water around the tuber, not directly on it, to repvent water from pooling in the tuber.
Fertilizing: Amend your soil with compost before planting begonias in the ground. Begonias are heavy feeders, so fertilize plants in the ground and in containers monthly with an organic balanced fertilizer (Look for 20-20-20 fertilizer mixes). For container begonias, use a liquid fertilizer, so the nutrients are more readily available.
Mulching: Since begonias are susceptible to rot due to wet conditions, mulching should be done cautiously. Use bark mulch around plants to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds from growing. Keep mulch a few inches away from the succulent begonia stems to prevent them from rot. Begonias in containers don't need mulching.
Trimming & Pruning: To encourage fuller, bushier growth, pinch back newly-formed growth tips when they are about 3-6 inches long. Repeat monthly until mid-summer. For fewer, larger flowers, pinch off new young stem growth while leaving new buds to grow into flowers. Pinch back to the second healthy bud from the tip. Deadhead regularly to clean up the tuberous begonia's look, and to remove rotting old flowers that might infect the plants.
Brighten those gray days of winter by growing a few beautiful begonias indoors. Select from those with colorful foliage, uniquely shaped leaves or flowers.
You’ll have the greatest success growing fibrous rooted begonias that will flower in bright light and those with enlarged underground stems called rhizomes. These are grown for their leaves and tolerance of low light.
Grow your begonias in a warm location away from drafts of cold and hot air. Water thoroughly as the potting mix just starts to dry and only fertilize actively growing plants.
Place plants on gravel tray to increase humidity around the plant.
Increase flowering and leaf color intensity by adding artificial light to your growing location. Many new compact and stylish lights make it easy to add light while keeping with your indoor decor.
A bit more information: Rex begonia has long been grown indoors and more recently outdoors, for its colorful leaves. Its smaller stature makes it the perfect tabletop houseplant.
Botanical Name: Begonia boliviensis
This variety produces bright orange-red fl owers with contrasting green foliage having pink margins. It performs well in partial shade and looks great in hanging basket s!
Botanical Name: Begonia x hiemalis
A hybrid between wax and tuberous begonia, it features waxy foliage and bright colored flowers in shades of yellow and orange. It flowers abundantly from spring to fall.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Big Red Bronze Leaf’
This one has amazing red flowers that pair really well with dark green leaves having a bronze tint. This specimen can do well in both bright sun and partial shade.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Solenia Dusty Rose’
This trademark variety is a tuberous begonia hybrid and features frilly rose-hued blooms from mid-spring to mid-fall, that pair charmingly with its heart-shaped succulent leaves.
Fan of white flowers? Then this variety is surely going to win you over! The plant thrives in sun and shade both, flowering profusely in spring, summer, and fall.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Ambassador Rose’
This drought and pest resistant wax begonia is a perfect choice for novice gardeners. The thick fleshy green leaves create an amazing contrast with large flowers.
Botanical Name: Begonia boliviensis ‘Million Kisses Elegance’
It flowers in a subtle shade of pink that is beautifully complemented by its green leaves. The plant blooms abundantly on arching stems and is perfect for hanging baskets.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’
The plant produces flowers in a bright shade of orange, that almost look like they’re glowing! It’s a compact variety with bronze-purple foliage.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Illumination Scarlet’
With large, pendent shaped flowers in a rich hue of red, the plant looks gorgeous with its cascading, deep green foliage. Looks best in hanging baskets!
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’
The exotic double flowers in apricot shade carry a subtle hue of white, orange, and yellow. It has one of the largest flowers on the list and blooms all summer.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Waterfall’
With large double blooms, the flowers look somewhat like roses. If you are looking for a flowering variety for hanging baskets, go for this one eyes-closed!
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Super Cascade’
Great for window boxes, hanging baskets, and containers, the super cascade will offer you a palette of bright colors in both sun and shade.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Solenia Salmon Coral’
If you want a compact variety that flowers in a bunch of alluring flowers, then this is it! It’ll look great in containers with rich opulent blooms in deep red-orange color!
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Solenia Light Pink’
A window box favorite, the plant offers full pink, rose-like flowers. It also does quite well in sun and thrives equally well in shade too!
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Nonstop Deep Rose’
‘Nonstop Rose’ is a beautiful variety from the trademark ‘Nonstop series’ of tuberous begonias. It offers blooms in lovely shades of red, pink, and mixed hues!
Botanical Name: Begonia Big ‘Rose Green Leaf’
The plant’s large pink flowers pair really well with its bright green leaves. It does well in containers, is easy to care for, and does well in both part sun and shade.
Botanical Name: Begonia semperflorens-cultorum ‘Cocktail Mix’
The cocktail series offers light pink, white, and red flowers with a touch of yellow at the center. It is a compact variety and does well in part shade.
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Tornado’
An out and out exotic variety, the plant has dark green leaves patterned with silver, bronze, and deep rich purple splotches making it stand out from the rest!
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Ballet’
The plant displays smashing silver-green leaves with mid-green margins on red stems. The plant, overall, also has a slight red accent.
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Fairy’
If you’re a fan of foliage plants, then its silver leaves textured with shades of pink and cream along with dark green veins is surely going to tempt you into growing it!
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Pink Charming’
As the name suggests, the plant features a glorious shade of light pink on its foliage, patterned with green hues and hints of silver.
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Duarten’
This specimen has unique pointed foliage, splashed in the shades of bronze and silver. The leaves are also veined and stippled, giving this compact plant an amazing look!
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Red Kiss’
One of the most striking plants on the list, it is popular for purple-black foliage with a broad metallic red ring. Can make quite a statement wherever it is kept.
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Salsa’
The plant has dark-green foliage splashed with pink color with a touch of silver accents here and there. The leaves are also variegated with burgundy-red hues.
Botanical Name: Begonia rex ‘Spitfire’
Featuring a striking red-pink foliage that’s edged in silver and has a border in hues of green, it is one of the best begonias you can grow!
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Camouflage’
You can grow it both indoors and outdoors and it’ll continue to amaze you with its fantastic russet leaves and small flowers. It thrives well in shade.
Botanical Name: Begonia maculata
Go retro with this amazing begonia type with wing-shaped leaves marked with silver spots on the green background. It also grows clusters of pretty white flowers.
Botanical Name: Begonia ‘Angel Wing’
Categorized as a cane begonia due to its long stems, it is popular for its foliage, which has a shape like wings of angels. It also forms attractive edible pink flowers.
Botanical Name: Begonia moyesii
Deeply-veined, lily-pad like glossy green leaves with dark-maroon undersides of this compact begonia gives this plant a crinkled look, hence the name.
Botanical Name: Begonia brevirimosa ssp. exotica
This exotic variety features large metallic leaves with bright pink variegation on the bronze-green background. It does well under bright light.
Botanical Name: Begonia beleaf inca flame
This plant is an absolute stunner thanks to its deep pink large leaves with deep viens that resemble a heart’s shape!