Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2013 > Beautiful Begonias Indoors

Beautiful Begonias Indoors

Customers asking for begonias is almost a daily thing for us this time of year. This elicits a response of “what kind of begonia?” which sometimes stumps the customer. It usually turns out to be a request for Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens cultivars), that staple of the flower bed, widely used both in the back yard and on commercial properties. While it can be kept in a sunny window in the home, it is a messy houseplant, dropping spent flowers and shedding leaves onto hardwood and carpet alike, and usually only available in spring and summer. And it is only one member of the large (over 1500 species and countless hybrids) Begoniaceae family of attractive flowering plants.
 
Most begonias are tropical, with species originating in places like Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and even China and Vietnam. Plant propagators keep creating new cultivars and hybrids, and it can be difficult to sort out the different types of begonia. They are usually sorted into groups like rhizomatus, cane-stemmed or angel wing, fibrous, tuberous and semi-tuberous, and rex. This can still be confusing as there are creeping, bushy, or trailing rhizomatus begonias and creeping, bushy, or trailing fibrous begonias...see what I mean? Some of the rhizomatus begonias, grown for their interesting leaves, may look very similar to the Rex Hybrids, and cane-stemmed angel wings and fibrous-rooted “angel wings” both have, well, angel wing-shaped leaves!
 
Whatever type of begonia, they’re really all beautiful, and most are happy to grow on a part-sun to sunny window sill. Some of the most beautiful begonias, for use inside or out, are the many Hiemalis hybrids, with their showy double flowers resembling little roses. Another favorite begonia is the Rex Begonia. With many beautifully leaf-colored and patterned hybrids, the rex begonias are grown for the showy leaves, rather than the intermittent less showy flowers.
 
If you have a large window, a cane-stemmed begonia can fill the space as well as a Schefflera. Some can grow to ten feet or more in height, but can be kept shorter. Or choose a small-leaved or small-growing type, some small enough to be used as bonsai subjects (e.g., the semi-tuberous Begonia ‘Lacy’). A rhizomatus begonia in the “old favorites” category is Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’, or Beef Steak Begonia, prized for its large round lily-pad-like leaves.
 
One of the most popular begonias currently is the Dragon Wing Begonia, an angel wing begonia with very large leaves and brightly colored pink to red flowers. An excellent annual for pot or hanging basket, it gets a little too large to be a useful houseplant, but you can always keep cuttings over. Many other angel wing type begonias are also great for summer use, and they can be cut back and brought in for the winter.
 

Begonias are generally considered easy, but watch for powdery mildew or insects like mealybug. Fertilize regularly to keep flower buds coming. Most begonias will require some pinching or pruning to maintain an attractive appearance, and they are usually propagated by leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, or division.

Posted: 3/29/2013 by Margot | with 1 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
Comments
Cory
Chris, the $3 was for the two cups, but they seemed so small. Of curose, I am not a coffee drinker, so .Jackie, I love seeing those Orchids, but I am sure they wouldn't last at my house! The Christmas Cacti are the only plants I have, and they thrive, even when little attention is paid them!!! And yes, drawing at such a place would be fantastic!Frances, thank you! And now you are sounding like my kids! But wait! You ARE a teacher .you are always with kids!!!!!!
5/22/2013 5:50:32 AM

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