Gardeners love the old-fashioned charm of begonia flowers and the fact that they are as willing to bloom indoors during the winter months as they are outdoors when the weather is warmer. Southern gardeners are especially fortunate as this tender perennial sticks around from season to season as long as they aren’t exposed to freezing temperatures. Especially beloved is the double begonia, which is a hybrid that offers tiny, rose-shaped couplets of pink, red, or white flowers.
There are actually a number of types of begonias, and many of them come in either single or double forms. Semperflorens begonias are typically treated as an annual plant used to fill in areas between perennials with color. They bloom continuously, and the double begonia nestles among variegated green or rust-colored leaves. This type of begonia is commonly referred to as a wax begonia due to the glossy leaves, although other hybrids with fuzzy, feltlike leaves are also relatively common.
Begonia aficionados cherish the magnificent Rex begonias for their gloriously patterned leaves. They, too, offer a double as well as single bloom, but they lack the drama of the blossoms of other types of begonias. This variety of begonia springs from rhizomes rather than seed or tubers, as do their cousins.
Another popular type of begonia is the tuberous variety. Tuberous begonias also come in both single and double forms and offer a much wider range of colors, including yellow, orange, and green in addition to the more common pink, white, and red. The tuberous double begonia is appreciated by gardeners for the fact that it is extremely easy to start from shoots and will trail from hanging baskets. While most begonias lack fragrance, there are a few types of tuberous begonias that carry a subtle, light perfume.
Begonias are relatively easy to take care of as long as the soil is kept sufficiently moist but not overly so. They do not care for heavy or clay soils and require decent drainage. Algae can be a problem, as can slugs, which are especially attracted to the double begonia types.
Double begonias are also appreciated for their willingness to offer their bouquets in semishade. As gardeners know, the less light that is available, the fewer the types of plants that will flower. Like impatiens, hostas, and a handful of others, all types of begonias greet filtered sunlight happily. In addition, they are easy to propagate from rhizome cuttings, stem slips, or even the leaves themselves.