How to Grow & Care for Begonias


Growing and caring for begonias does require some attention to detail, but not a lot of hard work. Begonias x semperflorens-cultorum, or wax begonia, is a hardy annual between 8 inches and 2 feet tall with bushy foliage of heart-shaped green, bronze-red or mahogany leaves and small colorful white, pink, rose- or red-colored flowers all season long. Their many uses include bedding plants, borders, planters and any other type of container or basket that strikes your fancy. Wax begonias are drought-resistant and do well in partial shade or bright sunlight.

Step 1

Select plants at nurseries or plant centers, in the spring and throughout the summer months that are healthy with dense green leaves.

Step 2

Harden the plant by placing it outside for increasingly long periods each day for up to 10 days by placing it first in a shady location well protected from the wind. Gradually subject the begonia to more sunlight and wind during the hardening process.

Step 3

Plant the begonias in well-drained soil that is partially shaded in the afternoon if possible.

Step 4

Dig up the garden soil to a depth of approximately 10 inches with a garden fork and work approximately 4 inches of peat moss, mature compost or manure--up to 50 percent--into the garden soil.

Step 5

Wait four weeks after the last frost of the season, and place the plants approximately 8 to 10 inches apart by placing them in holes large enough to cover the root ball.

Step 6

Place 3 inches of organic compost, such as straw or wood chips, around the plant, and water it immediately after planting; as with most plants, do not wet the foliage. Water the plant thereafter early in the day until the soil is moist down to root level.

Step 7

Monitor the plant for Botrytis blight and stem rot, as well as powdery mildew and Pythium root, generally resulting from the soil being too wet. Pests are mealy bugs, spider mites, scales, snails and slugs and can be treated with the appropriate pesticides, available at garden centers.

Step 8

Fertilize the plant sparingly, if at all, when well-rotted manure is initially added to the soil. If the need for fertilizer is indicated by plant production, the garden may be fertilized in mid-season with a 5 percent nitrogen fertilizer at the rate of 2 lbs. per 100 square feet.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not keep the roots wet because of the danger of root rot and long spindly growth that produces little foliage or flowers. Planting seeds and germinating them is expensive and does not produce good results unless you have specialized equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Peat moss, compost or manure
  • Organic compost
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizer, if indicated


  • Clemson Creative Extension: Begonia
  • University of Florida Extension: Fibrous-rooted Begonias for Florida
Keywords: caring for begonias, begonia growing guidelines, begonia caring directions

About this Author

Freelance writing since 2009, Tom Ross has 30 years of corporate management and hands-on experience in the supermarket industry. Ross was featured on the cover of "Instore Buyer" magazine and his articles have appeared on eHow.