Begonia Care

A Complete Guide to Begonia Care

Begonias are very popular plants because begonia care is so easy. Another endearing quality is the fact that they can grow equally well either outside or inside. There are basically only two types of begonias that are grown at home. These are tuberous begonias or wax begonias.

Typically, wax begonias are used as bedding plants. They are grown outside as annuals, particularly in locations where there are cold winters. If you live in a warm state, such as Texas or California, you can grow wax begonias year-round. For the most part, wax begonias have flowers that are single or double-sided, but these can vary in size, with many newer hybrids having flowers that are three inches in diameter.

Begonias are not a fragile plant so begonia care is not complicated. They like to have soil that is well-drained, so starting out by preparing your bed with peat moss and a mix of sand and soil will work well. They like to be in the sun but not too much sun. That means if you live in an extremely warm or dry location, you will want to plant your begonias where they will be shaded at the hottest part of the day.

Never plant a begonia if there is still any chance of frost. Wait until later in the spring, when you are sure overnight freezes are well past. The day that you plant your begonias, be sure to give them a thorough watering. But, after that, they will only need to be watered whenever they feel dry to the touch. Begonias do not like too much water so it is okay to stick your finger in the soil to make sure it is really dry.

Begonia care is really not hard at all. You may want to fertilize occasionally but there are no strict requirements that you do so. Any balanced fertilizer will work nicely. Once the begonias start to bloom you are in for a real treat, because they will not stop blooming until it frosts in the fall.  If you live in a cold area, you may want to grow wax begonias in pots so you can bring them in when it gets cold. They will thrive in pots as well. Just make sure that your pots have drainage holes so that even in a pot, they have well-drained soil.

The second type of begonias are tuberous begonias. As you might expect, these are grown from tubers. If you live in a cold area you can start them inside in the spring and replant them outside when all danger of frost is past. You can begin growing them in flats or in pots. Do not use any fertilizer, not even compost or manure, until you transplant them outside. Place your begonia tubers in the soil, hollow side upwards. The top should be just about level with the ground or dirt surface.

After the first shoots emerge, you should give the plants a little water. Once your begonias are around five inches high, it is time to plant them outdoors. Begonia care should include mixing some compost into the soil and mulching. Mulching will help keep moisture in the soil. If you begin your plants inside, they will bloom earlier than those that were planted directly into the ground. You are likely to have flowers from June and July into the fall, depending on where you are located.

Begonia tubers cannot remain in the soil over the winter in very cold climates. Wait until after a killing frost, and then dig up the tubers. Shake off any excess dirt and let them dry in a warm spot for several days. Cut off any bad spots. Then, carefully pull the roots, stems and leaves off the tuber. Wrap each tuber in a brown paper bag or wrapper and put them in a cool, dry place for the winter. If you garden in a warm climate, you can leave the tubers in the ground all winter.