Begonias: Expert Tips on Planting And Caring For
With the right care, begonias produce magnificent flowers. Here you can find out everything about planting and care for begonias with tips for a particularly long flowering period. You have probably heard of the begonias ( begonia ) with their crooked leaves. And you have probably seen the plants many times or even owned a begonia yourself. But do you already know the diversity of this plant genus, which is one of the most species-rich in the world? Let yourself be surprised and immerse yourself in the world of begonias.
Begonias: origin and characteristics
For a long time, the begonia was considered old-fashioned and dusty. In recent years, however, the versatile begonias have been rediscovered and their stylishly patterned leaves now adorn even many student apartments. You can get a wonderful impression of the diversity in the world of begonias in the gardens of Hohenheim Palace. The greenhouses of the University of Stuttgart are home to one of the world’s largest collections of begonia with over 250 different species.
If you inspect a begonia leaf a little more closely, you will quickly discover the most important of the distinguishing features of the begonias: the leaf is not symmetrical. The species-rich genus of begonias ( Begonia ) belongs to the slate family ( Begoniaceae ). Only one other species is a member of this family, which is why you can be relatively sure that you are looking at a begonia in a crooked plant with fleshy leaves and stems.
Most of the begonias come from the humid rain and mountain forests of the tropics and subtropics and are particularly widespread in South America. Unfortunately for this reason they are not up to our Central European winters, even if they are actually perennial. But overwintering is worthwhile because its flowers are a real splendor. The only drawback of the interesting plants: The flowers are only fragrant in very few species.
Species and varieties of begonia
The begonias include far more than 1000 different species and new ones are constantly being discovered. But only some of these can also be found here as ornamental plants. Nevertheless, the offer is huge in this country too and ranges from begonias with particularly impressive foliage to small-flowered begonia species to begonias with magnificent, large flowers. We have collected the most beautiful begonia species and varieties for you in this article.
Hardy begonia varieties
Begonias are not used to sub-zero temperatures from their countries of origin. Only a few species such as the Japanese slate ( Begonia grandis ) survive the cold season outdoors with the right protection.
Ice begonias ( Begonia semperflorens ) are a real flowering wonder. Their bright colors appear from April or May and last until the plant freezes to death in winter. If you keep the plant in a pot and spend the winter in the house, you will even be delighted with its flowering pleasure over the winter. You can find more information about the ice begonias and selected varieties here.
The eliator begonias ( Begonia x hiemalis ) are a mixed bag. They are a group of hybrids from different species of begonia and are extremely floriferous. Since it quickly gets too cold for them below 16 ° C, they are the perfect house plants. The beautiful flowers are often filled in a wide variety of shades. If you are interested in these refreshing houseplants, you can find out more about elatior begonias here.
The hardest thing about buying begonias is deciding on the right variety – everything else will usually come up by itself. So that you still do not make a mistake when buying, we have summarized the most important things to consider when buying a begonia.
As plants of tropical forests, begonias are relatively sensitive to the sun. The ice begonias alone also like it sunnier. The basic requirement for a successful planting is that you put the begonia in a suitable place. Some of the plants prefer not to go outside at all but are only suitable as indoor plants in this country. For most of the other species, it should be remembered that they too cannot tolerate frosts and that they have to be dug up again for wintering.
Use nutrient-rich garden soil for planting begonias, preferably with a good amount of compost soil. You can find out what else to consider when planting begonias here.
The propagation of begonias is very easy with cuttings. Cut off a branch from the plant about four inches long. If you want to grow several cuttings at the same time, then it makes sense to sacrifice an adult plant for them. Then it will be gone, but numerous offspring will sprout again. You should now remove the leaves from the cut-off shoot in the lower area so that only two leaves remain at the tip of the shoot. Now you can put the cutting in a prepared container with garden soil.
Make sure that the soil does not have a pH value above 7 and that it is always nice and moist. It should be neutral or slightly acidic. Alternatively, you can grow the cuttings in a darkened water glass and plant them later. In a bright place at room temperature, begonias root extremely quickly, usually within a week. The best time to cut cuttings is after flowering, which is difficult with some species such as ice begonias because they flower as well as ever. But basically, cuttings can be grown all year round.
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Leaf cuttings can also be easily pulled without having to clear an entire plant. This works best on species with fleshy leaves. Cut off individual leaves from the mother plant and place them in a prepared planter. It is advisable to put a transparent plastic bag on to increase the humidity. Here is a guide on how to build a mini greenhouse.
Begonias multiply at a glance:
- Possible after flowering or all year round
- Cut an approx. 10 cm long shoot (shorter shoots are also possible for small species)
- Remove the lower leaves
- Put the shoot in moist soil or a darkened water glass
- Rooting in a warm place within a few days
- Particularly suitable for meaty species
- Cut off individual leaves from the mother plant
- Put the leaf in a container with moist soil
- Cover with a clear plastic bag to increase the humidity
- Put in a warm place
- Tuber division of the tuberous begonia
- After wintering, divide the tuber in half
- Plant out the tuber parts
Begonias turn out to be very grateful and easy to care for plants. So you don’t have to spend a lot of time with the versatile plants. Begonias even clean themselves by simply dropping dead flowers. There is also no need to prune the begonias. You can only use the secateurs shortly before wintering.
Water begonias properly
Water the tropical begonias regularly, about twice a week. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right balance between too much and too little. This becomes a bit of a challenge, especially on hot days, because waterlogging can quickly lead to root rot. Also, keep in mind that plants evaporate more water when there is a lot of wind and therefore need more water under these conditions. You should only water significantly less in winter. With tuberous begonias, you can even do without watering after pruning over the winter.
Fertilize begonias properly
In order to produce a lot of flowers, the begonias need sufficient nutrition. From spring you can regularly apply a liquid begonia fertilizer. It is better for the environment and much less costly to give manure, compost, or long-term organic fertilizer in spring and early summer. Starting in late summer, you should stop fertilizing slowly, because begonias do not need any fertilizer over the winter.
Begonias are not annual, even if they unfortunately often end up on the compost in autumn. Most begonias are actually quite easy to bring over the winter. Tuberous begonias, for example, only need a cool room without frost – it doesn’t even have to be bright. Most indoor begonias, on the other hand, can easily be kept in the room over the winter. Even ice begonias can be hibernated quite well in a bright room at around 16 ° C.