How to Care for a Begonia

Begonias thrive in areas of the garden where other long blooming flowers don't. image by Melodi T:


Begonias bring bright color to shaded areas in the garden where other flowers can't grow. Available in colors ranging from pink to yellow with a variety of petal shapes, begonias bloom throughout most of summer. They thrive during warm weather, but heavy frost destroys the bulbs, requiring special winter care to enjoy the flowers next spring. In mild areas where winter frost is rare, begonias can winter in the ground; otherwise they must be dug up and stored until the ground begins to warm.


Step 1

Plant begonias in flat trays filled with peat moss. Plant hollow side up just under the surface of the peat moss.

Step 2

Keep soil moist but not soaking wet. Avoid watering from above the bulb as water will collect in hollows and lead to rot.

Step 3

Place in a warm place, approximately 70 degrees, that receives indirect sunlight.

Step 4

Once stems are 1-inch tall at approximately 30 days, transplant the bulbs into 6-inch pots or permanent containers. Place in an area with more sunlight or under grow lights.

Step 5

Acclimate the plants to outdoor conditions two weeks before the last frost in your area. Place pots outside during warm days and bring inside at night. Transplant to outdoor containers or to well-drained garden beds once all danger of frost has passed.

Step 6

Remove dead leaves and flowers every 1 to 2 weeks to encourage healthy plant growth and avoid disease.

Step 7

Allow soil to dry between watering, then water thoroughly. Apply a general purpose fertilizer once a month.


Step 1

Encourage dormancy in late summer or early fall. Decrease watering to the begonia bed and allow the foliage to begin yellowing.

Step 2

Allow the foliage to die back naturally. Avoid disturbing begonias until the foliage has completed yellowing or until after the first frost.

Step 3

Cut down each begonia stem to 5 inches using sharp pruners or a knife. Dig around the bulbs 5 inches from the stem to avoid nicking the bulbs with your spade. Lever the bulb out of the ground and brush off the excess soil.

Step 4

Set the bulbs on newspaper indoors and out of direct sunlight. Let dry until the remaining stem becomes brittle. Pull the dried stem off the bulb and brush off any remaining soil.

Step 5

Fill a perforated plastic bag with dry peat moss. Store bulbs inside in a dark place at approximately 40 to 50 degrees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid over watering, which leads to rot. Begonias go dormant regardless of care, making them ill-suited as year round house plants. Do not wash the soil off bulbs with water; this leads to rotting. Check stored bulbs for signs of rot regularly and dispose of damaged bulbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Trays
  • Peat moss
  • Pots
  • Grow lights
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruners
  • Spade
  • Bags


  • University of Minnesota Extension
  • Gardener's Net
Keywords: growing begonias, begonia plant care, summer bulbs

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: Melodi T: