Begonias are popular flowers known for their versatility, as they can be grown in flowerbeds as well containers or hanging baskets. Their showy flowers come in colors including pink, scarlet, yellow and white. They all have a bright yellow center called the "eye." Although these flowers are typically single, they can also be double or semi-double. These flowering plants are unique, because the species in the Begonia genus are often cross-bred with one another, resulting in a vast number of hybrids.
Begonia semperflorens is the most common species and includes wax begonias, fibrous begonias and everblooming begonias. This begonia species has white or pink flowers and finely toothed leaves. Because this species contains so many varieties, it's considered to be the leading species in bedding begonias. The Begonia fusiso species has scarlet fuchsia-like flowers and oval shaped leaves. The Begonia incana species is distinguished by its hairy leaves and white flowers that are borne in clusters on long stalks.
Size and Time Frame
Begonias grow about 6 to 23 inches tall, according to Plant Biology.com. All types grow compact and have thick foliage. Begonia tubers should be planted early in spring. It takes roughly 15 days to two months for germination to occur. Flowers appear in summer and continue throughout fall. These flowers are grown as perennials in cooler climates, but gardeners generally consider them to be annuals.
Male and Female Flowers
Both male (staminate) and female (pistillate) begonia flowers grow on the same plant, making begonias monoecious. Wild begonias lack petals and have four or five sepals, which resemble petals. The male flowers have numerous stamens, and females have an ovary with three fused carpels, which is the main unit of a flower's reproductive organ.
Begonia flowers are native to tropical and subtropical areas, mostly occurring in South and Central America, Asia and the sub-Saharan region of Africa. The plant's natural habitat is in cool, moist forests and tropical rainforests, although some begonias grow in drier conditions.
Begonia seedlings that are grown indoors shouldn't be transplanted outdoors until after the last spring frost. These plants need a site that's sunny or slightly shaded has rich, moist soil. An ideal soil is one that's more acidic, meaning it has a lower pH level. Plant Biology.com recommends a soil with a pH of 6 or 7. Because begonia roots should never be dry, it's important to ensure they're always moist, although they shouldn't be overwatered.
Begonias need considerable attention, such as removing dead flowers, stems and leaves. Trimming off long stems can help the plant maintain its compact shape. Both container and house plants should be given liquid fertilizer monthly rather than dry fertilizer.