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How to Prune Begonias

Begonias are "universally appealing and easy to grow," according to horticulturist Sally Greenwood. The Begonia genus of plants has over 1,300 cultivars, from the familiar Angel Wing varieties -- a cross between Begonia aconitifolia and B. coccinea -- to the large, rose-like flowers of the tuberous begonia (B. x tuberhybrida) types. Some cultivars and hybrid perennials thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10, but all begonias are grown as houseplants across all hardiness zones.

Angel Wings

Angel wing begonias are in the cane (Begonia x coralline) group of begonia types. They're easy to grow and produce an abundance of colorful drooping, pendant flowers. They do well indoors with bright, indirect light provided year-round. Angel wings thrive in a warm environment and do not do well with cold drafts or freezing temperatures. Many begonias become leggy over time, so prune them back to encourage new growth or start new plants.

Spring is the optimum time to prune begonias.

Choose the longest begonia stem and notice there is a bump, or node, where a leaf or flower will grow. Always make your pruning cuts above a leaf or flower node. Begonias under 3 years old can be pruned back to one or two nodes above the soil line to encourage bushy cane growth the following year. Older plants have developed more canes from the plant base and require lighter pruning.

Shape your pruning with taller canes in the middle and shorter canes at the outer edges of the plant. This creates an overall display of flowers in blooming season.

Wipe the pruning shears with an alcohol soaked cotton ball to prevent possible spread of plant disease.

Remove canes and stems that cross over each other. Stems rubbing together encourages disease. Make a sharp, upward slanting cut above a leaf or flower stem node with the pruning shears.

Remove all yellowing and dead leaves from the entire plant.

Discard cut stems that will not be used as cutting for new plants.

Wipe the pruning shears with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball or clean cloth again before storing them.

Tuberous Begonias

Tuberous begonias such as the ‘Non-stop Mocca Orange’ cultivar grow well in partial shade outdoors and are often used in hanging baskets. Their stems trail 12 to 18 inches long and produce white, red, pink, or yellow flowers 2 to 4 inches wide. They do not generally require pruning, because their growth dies back completely each year. Dead or yellowing leaves may be removed as needed.

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