Blooming Plant of
Begonia X hiemalis (syn. B. X elatior),
Begonia X semperflorens, Begonia X tuberhybrida (bay-GO-nee-a
hi-e-MAH-lis, sem-per-FLOR-ens, tu-ber-HY-brid-a)
Winter-flowering Begonia, Rieger Begonia, Wax Begonia, Tuberous
Begonias are grown for their foliage and their attractive
flowers. They often are used as bedding plants and indoor or
outdoor blooming plants. Many Begonias have separate male and
female flowers. Most of the cultivars in commercial production
are complex hybrids of several species. See below left for
descriptions of three important groups of commercial Begonias.
Begonia blossoms range greatly in color including yellows,
oranges, pinks, whites and reds. Leaf colors include silver,
gray, purple, green, red-brown and bronze.
Flowers may last from five to seven days, but the plants can
bloom and last for many months with proper care. Only a few
flowers are generally open at any given time per plant.
Three main groups of flowering Begonias are frequently marketed
by the floral industry:
WINTER-FLOWERING, OR RIEGER, BEGONIAS
(B. X hiemalis) A cross between tuberous and wax Begonias,
these perennials have large glossy leaves and double or single
flowers that come in pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, peach
and white. They do well in bright indirect light.
(B. X semperflorens) Grown mostly as annuals, wax Begonias
are popular for hardiness and continuous flowering throughout
the summer. These Begonias can be grown in full sun or partial
shade. Some varieties have bronze foliage. They also withstand
drought and heat better than other Begonias.
(B. X tuberhybrida) These often are used in hanging baskets
and are known for their brilliant, large flowers. Tuberous
Begonias grow best in partial shade. The plants need frequent
watering and light fertilizing, but excess of either causes
flower bud drop. There are upright or trailing varieties of
Rieger Begonias are available year-round. Wax and tuberous
Begonias are more available in the spring and summer.
Water Do not overwater the plants because leaf and bud drop can
Plants do best at 50 to 300 foot-candles. Flower stalks
elongate and flower color will fade under low light conditions.
Begonias are chill sensitive. They should be stored above 55
F but can be shipped at 50 F for up to three days without harm.
Begonias are sensitive to ethylene gas. Check with your
suppliers to make sure their crops have been treated with an
ethylene inhibitor at the farm or during transportation.
The “X” in a botanical name means that the plant is a cross
between at least two species in the same genus, and in the case
of Begonias, crosses of many species. The species name
“semperflorens” means “ever flowering.” “Hiemalis” means “of the
Begonias belong to the Begoniaceae family. They are native
to many parts of the world but were originally discovered in the
tropics and subtropics of the Americas. Many are from the
Begonias were named for Michel Bégon (1638-1710), who was
appointed by French King Louis XIV to make Rochefort the most
beautiful arsenal city of the times. Mr. Bégon wrote to
collectors and scientists around the entire world, especially
the French colonies of the West Indies and the French islands of
the Americas, where he served in 1682. Mr. Bégon sent two
scientists to study the flora of West India. In 1689, one of
them, Charles Plumier, a monk, described a little plant with
succulent leaves and round flowers that he named “Begonia rosea
flore, folio orbiculate” in honor of Mr. Bégon. Today,
Rochefort’s Begonia Conservatory carries on the work of Michel
Bégon, seeking to increase its large collection of Begonias.
allergy free The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology lists this species as an allergy-safe pollen
Remove faded florets from the stems. Don’t accept plants
that show signs of wilt, rot, mold or yellowing.
and diseases Disease problems associated with Begonias
include Botrytis blight and stem rot, powdery mildew, and
Pythium root and stem rot. The major pests of Begonias are mealy
bugs, spider mites, scales, snails and slugs.
Keep the soil moist at all times. Avoid standing water in
the pots and on foliage. It is best to water by submerging the
pots in a basin of water or add water into the drain saucer.
Watering indirectly will avoid rotting the stem and leaves.
Most Begonias grow well in partial shade, but, in general,
they need bright light to flower well. Begonia leaves are
delicate, so treat plants carefully, and do not use leaf shine
or other sprays on the foliage. Turn pots regularly to ensure
even growth because the plants tend to grow toward the light.
Keep Begonias in rooms that are kept at a constant
temperature. Fluctuating day and night temperatures damage the
Moderate humidity is required for all types of Begonias.
fertilizer Begonias are not heavy feeders, so fertilizer should
be applied in moderation. There are specialty fertilizers for
Begonias. Follow the directions on the package labels in all
Begonias should be planted in well-drained soil with plenty
of organic matter.
grooming Begonias can grow leggy and should be replaced with
fresh flowering stock or cut back to encourage new growth.
Some information provided by:
Chain of Life Network®,
You can reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
Images courtesy of The John Henry Company, Lansing, Mich.
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