Begonia varietiesThe genus begonia is very extensive, with more than 350 different varieties. Most of these originated in the Americas, namely the warm and humid areas. This tuber is therefore a real summer flowering one and cannot tolerate frost. There are all types of begonia - with hanging, single, double, fringed, giant, small, and fragrant flowers – and there is no lack of differing shades to be had!. The main colours around are red, pink, orange, yellow and white but also multi-coloured flowers are no exception. There are hanging plants as well as upright begonias. There’s one common begonia (bertinii tanais) which produces more than 100 flowers on each tuber. We plant begonia tubers in May, once all chance of frost has passed. They will flower from the start of June and will continue to flower well into the autumn.
Uses for begoniaA begonia makes a very serviceable houseplant but is also nice on the patio/decking and can thrive in the border too. The tubers look best in the border when planted in groups. The compact habit and the multiple bright flowers make this a star plant for use in pots and planters and of course hanging begonia looks just fabulous in hanging baskets.
Planting begonia tubersSufficient light and regular watering are the main conditions for successful growth and flowering. Do keep your begonia in a nice light, partly shaded spot (never full sun). The plant will thank you for a somewhat heavier (preferably acidic) soil as this retains moisture better. When mixing in amongst other plants in the border, plant about 15-20 tubers per square metre from the end of May. If it’s a group of begonias only, you can plant 20-25 per square metre. Alternatively you may decide to ‘force’ the begonia tubers indoors from mid-April. This gives them all a head start ready for planting out at the end of May and the flowers will appear sooner.
Begonia tubers are rather flat, with a rounded and a concave side. Always plant our begonia tubers with the concave side up.
Pruning begoniasCut off all the overblown flowers on your begonia every week and snip off any yellowed foliage. Keep the soil moist and feed the plant weekly during this flowering period, with some liquid feed in the watering can. If you want bigger flowers, snip out all of the smallest flower buds – all energy will then go to the buds that are left and the flowers will be larger. If you want a sturdy, bushy begonia, snip out all the tallest stems. This results in more but smaller flowers appearing.
For more info. on begonias, check out our gardening advice articles.
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