Though there are several types of begonias, with more than 1,000 named species, most varieties are grown in the same manner. Tuberous begonias are one of the more popular types preferred by gardeners, due to their stunning blooms and the wide range of color available. Other varieties include the rare perennial variety and the more common semperflorens, or “wax type,” which is the more widely-grown variety. To plant begonias, you simply need to choose an appropriate growing location, provide soil and water, consider appropriate lighting, and continue supportive care after they are planted. Due to their hardiness, caring for begonia plants requires minimal time and effort.
One of the most important factors for choosing a location to plant begonias is the temperature. Begonias are ideal ornamental plants for growing both indoors and outdoors. They can be grown in flower gardens, containers, and hanging baskets. Do not plant begonias in cold weather, as they should not be exposed to frost or extremely low temperatures. The ideal time to plant them outdoors is after all chance of frost has past.
Whether they are planted in a flower bed or container, begonias need loose, fertile soil for optimal growth. Indoor begonias grow well in a peat moss mixture. Well-draining soil is important to prevent root rot. After planting the begonias, the plants need watered regularly, allowing the soil to dry thoroughly between each watering session. Applying fertilizer monthly will also ensure healthy foliage and blooms.
The type of lighting and the amount of light are also important aspects to caring for begonia plants. Indoor begonias can be placed near windows or provided with artificial fluorescent lighting. With the exception of a north-facing window, any window offering natural lighting will provide the begonia plant with sufficient sunlight. They also flourish when provided with a humid environment such as that found in an indoor garden terrarium.
Outdoors, plant begonias in an area that offers semi-shade during the hottest parts of the day. The leaves of begonia plants are susceptible to sun damage in extremely hot temperatures. In regions that experience cold winter temperatures, the begonia plants should be brought indoors just prior to the first frost of the season.
For plants grown in flower beds, begonia tubers can be removed from the ground before the weather begins to turn cold. The tubers should be allowed to air dry indoors in an unlit place. The foliage should be removed and, once dry, they can be placed in a paper bag containing dry peat moss. The begonia tubers can then be planted in a container approximately one month prior to planting back outdoors for the next growing season.
Begonias can be propagated by several methods, though most plants are started from seed or plant cuttings. Begonia tubers can even be propagated from leaf cuttings. One of the preferred methods for propagating is by placing the cuttings in a perlite and vermiculite mixture until the cutting forms a root system.
Plant diseases and pests generally do not affect begonias, though indoor begonia plants may encounter problems with mealy bugs. Rarely, begonias may also become affected by vine weevils and mites. Diseases to watch for include mildew, stem rot, and foliar petal. Begonia diseases and pests can most often be avoided when the plants are cared for properly and planted in the correct environment.