Begonia Culture

Begonias are found primarily in Africa, Central and South America and Asia. The genus begonia was named in honor of Michael Begon, A Superintendent of Santo Domingo from 1638 to 1710.

Begonias are rewarding and easy to grow. Paying attention to: watering, a porous soil, proper light, fertilizing, grooming and periodic preventative maintenance will help to insure a healthy plant w hether they are grown in the landscape, indoors on a windowsill or under lights.

The basic growing information provided pertains to the South Florida area and the methods we use. We also stress the importance of getting to know you particular environmental conditions.

Horticultural Classification of Begonias

Rhizomatous (thickened stem) – Largest group in number leaf size, shape and texture. Growth habits range from creeping to upright. Leaf sizes vary from 1/2 inch to 18 inches or larger, with various textures, shapes, colors and patterns. Primarily late winter and spring bloomers. Flower colors range from white, peach, light and dark pinks. Groups – small leaved, medium leaved, large leaved, giant leaved and various rhizome types.

Cane – Erect to semi-erect smooth bamboo like stems. Leaves are a solid green to a red coloration, some with spots and splashes. Long lasting pendulous flowers with color ranges of white, pink. salmon, orange, red and rose. Groups – Superba & Mallet types plus others. Many canes flower year-round.

Semperflorens – Abundant, every blooming flowers. Common name is Wax Begonia because of the thick shiny leaves and succulent stems. Bushy compact growers, with leaf colors ranging from green, bronzy-red, dark mahogany and variegated. White, pink and red are common flower colors. Good year-round bedding plant. Groups – species and cultivars

Rex Cultorum – Exotic foliage. Leaves range from solid colors with a metallic cast to streaked, spotted, bordered and splashed with various colors. Spiral or non-spiral leaves may vary in length from 3 to 12 inches. Growth habits range from creeping to upright and branching. Leaf textures and shapes vary. Sporadic bloomers, Groups – small leaved, medium leaved, large leaved, upright stemmed with spiral or non-spiral

Shrub Like – Known for interesting foliage. A free branching plant growing from 1 foot to over 6 feet. Leaves vary in size from 1 inch to over 8 inches with many textures. They have a seasonal blooming habit with colors ranging from white, cream and pink. Groups – bare leaved, hairy leaved (large, medium & small leaves)

Tuberous or Semi-Tuberous – They are characterized by a swollen base or tuber. Some go completely dormant. Semi-Tuberous can be grown in South Florida. They are a bushy to compact plant with swollen stems beginning at the roots. They have interesting shpaes and textures. Seasonal bloomers, either fall, winter or spring. Good bonsai plant. Groups – Species, Tuber-Hybrids, Hiemalis, Cheimantha and Bulbous.

Thick Stemmed – Stout, gradually tapering thick stems which seldom branch. The many textured leaves are medium to large and dull to shiny. They are seasonal bloomers with either pink or white flowers. They have bonsai potential. Groups – bare leaved, hairy leaved, trunk like and thickset

Trailing Scandent – Cascading habit or climbing varieties. A vining growth habit with long free branching stems. Leaves are small to large. Seasonal flowers show profuse to moderate blooms. A few are sporadic bloomers. Flowers are either white, pink or oranges. They are ideal for hanging containers or totem poles. Groups – species and cultivars

Where To Grow Begonias

The ideal location to display and maintain your begonias is outside in the landscape, shade structure, pool or patio area, windowsill, under lights or in a terrarium. Begonias are quite adaptive provided they are given the right growing conditions. The larger leaved, medium leaved and small leaved varieties will thrive nicely in outdoor areas. The smaller leaved begonias can be grow indoors by placing the plant near a window or door that is well lit during the day. Rexes and some rhizomatous lend themselves nicely to being frown indoors on a windowsill or under lights.

Potting

A wide variety of potting materials and containers are available. Good drainage and aeration around roots are the most important considerations for growing begonias successfully. Clay, plastic and baskets are good container choices, while commercially available soilless mixes, sometimes modified for extra drainage are good media selections. Containers and the medium need to be tailored to suit your growing conditions.

When planting a begonia in the ground, drainage becomes the main criteria. Make sure the area you have chosen does not retain water. Begonias do not like wet feet. Adding rocks to the soil will help promote good drainage.

Repotting should occur when the begonia has outgrown the pot or is about to. A good root system should be evident before you move the plant up to the next size. The advantages of just one size larger is better growth and more blooms. A begonia will not thrive if it is under or over potted. The addition of new media will also be beneficial . Clean containers and a sterile media will help to unsure a healthy plant.

Watering

Watering is dependent upon the size of the begonia, location (outdoors or indoors), temperature, humidity and potting media. A general rule of thumb is to water at least two to three times a week if you are watering by hand. Watering begonias in outdoor areas will depend on whether the plant has access to an irrigation system or rainfall. It is important that begonias receive enough moisture to properly grow. Begonias can dry out slightly between each watering. Generally, the roots like to stay moist and leaves dry when possible. You can also check the surface of the soil. When the surface of the soil feels slightly dry, than water thoroughly. On very warm or windy days an additional watering my be required in outdoor areas. Watering early in the morning is recommended. Consequently, the plant can dry out the rest of the day.

Fertilizing

The proper nutrition is essential for promoting good growth and the well being of the plant. A regular feeding program should be established. There is a wide selection of fertilizers to choose from. Most fertilizers will aid in suitable plant growth. Make sure you carefully read and follow the instructions on the fertilizer label.

We feel the best method for providing a begonias nutritional needs are the slow release fertilizers. Most slow release fertilizers contain macronutrients and micronutrients that supply the complete requirements important for plant vigor and development. Check the fertilizer recommendations as to frequency. Over fertilizing can cause root and tissue damage. Under fertilizing can result in stunted growth and poor flowering. Begonias require a smaller concentration of fertilizer in the winter.

Light

Most begonias thrive in bright light but not the direct sun. The sun is regarded as the harshest between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. 30% to 40% shade should satisfy most light requirements. . Some of the more optimum locations for growing most begonias in the garden are: a shade house, under screening, morning sun or late afternoon sun and shade areas found in the year. Filtered sun is recommended for proper leaf and stem development and good b looming. Becoming familiar with the light conditions in your yard, during various times of the day, will help you select the right location for your begonias. Plants indoors require a bright lit area or under fluorescent lights.

Temperature & Humidity

Begonias can adapt to a wide range of temperatures. Excessive heat or cold will naturally cause problems that will require appropriate responses. We are fortunate to be living in a climate where begonias thrive nicely all year long. Temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees F. are ideal. Begonias also benefit when the night temperatur es are around 15 degrees lower than the day temperatures. Sometimes the winter temperatures may require the grower to proved added protection particularly, if cold temperatures remain for several nights in a row.

The proper humidity is important for optimum plant growth. Begonias can trace their origins to tropical and subtropical regions know for being humid and warm. The humidity should be between 40% to 60% for most begonias. Proper air circulation is also essential for good cultivation.

Humidity indoors can be supplies by using trays. The trays are filled with clean rocks or pebbles. Water is added below the top of the rocks or pebbles. The begonia can be set in the tray making sure the water is below the pot. An inverted saucer can also be used. It is important that the bottom of the pot stays dry. Water plants carefully. Misting is also beneficial.

Grooming

Good grooming should provide you with thriving and beautiful begonias. Cleanliness is the most important procedure to put into practice. Check you plants once a week or every other week and remove plant debris when necessary. Removing old or diseased leaves and spent flowers from the plant, and the immediate vicinity, will help prevent future problems.

Pinching and pruning will encourage good branching, fuller growth, better flower production and a symmetrical shape. Pinching should begin when the plant is young and continued on a regular basis. Pinching is the removal of the growing tips or outer st ems.

Pruning is the cutting back of stems or eliminating old woody stalks. Pruning is also used to control the height, size and density of the begonia. Severe pruning should be avoided. Pruning is recommended in spring, or early summer, which allows the plant to take advantage of the ideal warmer grower conditions.Begonia Culture
Begonias are found primarily in Africa, Central and South America and Asia. The genus begonia was named in honor of Michael Begon, A Superintendent of Santo Domingo from 1638 to 1710.

Palm Hammock Orchid Estate, Inc. – 9995 S.W. 66 St. Miami, Fl 33173

305-274-9813