Begonia Facts

Overview

The begonia was first discovered by Charles Plumier in Santo Domingo in 1690. He named the flower after his patron, Michel Begon. Begonias are found in most tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. Wax begonias originated in Brazil. If you live in a warmer climate, begonias can be a showy perennial for more shady areas.

Varieties

There are more than 1,000 individual species of begonia. Those species have been used to create more than 10,000 begonia varieties. Species are classified according to their root type: fibrous, rhizomatous and tuberous. However, species with tuberous and rhizomatous roots also have fibrous roots.

Hardiness

Varieties of begonia have been bred both for tropical and sub-tropical climates. In their native climates, begonias are perennial. However, begonias can be moved indoors for the winter. Because they do not do well with average daily temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, they are not hardy in most parts of North America. However, they grow as perennials in Hawaii and southern Florida.

Soil

Although begonias can tolerate sandy soils, they do best in loams that are high in organic material. Begonias need soils that drain well, but they also need soils that retain water. Begonias growing in sandy soil will need more water than begonias growing in better soils.

Light

Begonias grow best in partial shade or full shade. However, some varieties can have problems with powdery mildew in full shade. Older non-hybrid varieties with fibrous roots do best in partial shade. This ensures that they get enough sun to prevent moisture problems that could result in powdery mildew.

Mulch & Water

Mulch your begonias, especially if growing them outside. This will help reduce water evaporation from the soil and help to reduce problems with weeds. By mulching your begonias, you will reduce the frequency of waterings and amount of water the flowers require. Begonias will often need water, even if your climate gets a lot of rain. Try to give your begonias an inch or two of water every few days.

Keywords: tropical flowers, sub-tropical flowers, begonia cultivation

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.