Begonias brighten up shady areas with their big, beautiful blooms. While most flowering plants require at least a half day of full sun, begonias actually prefer growing in the shade and will bloom continuously from summer to fall.
You can choose upright double begonias (for window boxes, flower pots and garden beds) or cascading varieties (for planters and hanging baskets). With so many options, begonias make it easy to dress up any shady porch, patio or deck.
See the options and choose your favorites!
START WITH A BETTER BULB
It’s easy to see the difference in a quality begonia when you compare two plants side by side. Begonias grow from tuberous roots. The larger the tuber, the more growth points it will have and the more stems and flowers it will produce. Longfield Gardens offers 5/6 cm tubers, which give you larger, fuller plants than smaller, 4/5 cm tubers. Quality begonia tubers are dense and firm, not mushy or brittle.
SUN/SHADE: Begonias are sensitive to bright sunlight and should be protected from intense heat. They grow best in filtered light beneath high trees, or in an area that gets about 4 hours of morning or afternoon sunlight.
ZONE: Begonias grow well in hardiness zones 3-11. They are frost sensitive and only winter hardy in zones 8-11. In cooler climates begonias are grown as annuals and will flower from summer through fall. To check your growing zone, use the USDA Hardiness zone map here.
WHEN TO PLANT: Begonias should be planted outdoors in late spring after any threat of any frost has passed.
TIPS FOR GETTING AN EARLY START: For earlier flowers, you can start your begonias in pots indoors 8 weeks before you expect to plant them outdoors. All you need is a pot, some moist growing mix and a warm, sunny location. Start early and your begonias can be in bloom by Memorial Day. Learn more about starting begonias indoors.
PLANTING IS AS EASY AS 1, 2, 3
1. Dig a shallow hole. When the tuber is lying in the hole, the top of it should be 1” below the soil line.
2. Set the tuber in the hole at a slight angle so water doesn't settle in the depression.
3. Replace the soil and water well.
After planting, hold off on watering until the first sprouts emerge. Overwatering before you see leaves may cause the tuber to rot. You will probably see sprouts in 2-4 weeks.
After your plant is well established, water as needed, keeping the soil dry to the touch. In hot climates you'll need to check the plants frequently to make sure they don't get too dry. In cooler areas, let the soil get relatively dry between waterings.
If you are planting begonias in your garden or landscape, they'll grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. Adding compost or top soil at planting time will improve the fertility of the soil and help it retain moisture.
If you are planting begonias in pots or planters, make sure the containers have a drainage hole on the bottom. Fill them with moistened growing mix that contains about 20% compost. Plant the tuber and cover it with about an inch of soil. As the plant grows, you can add a little more soil. As the roots develop, the plant will settle in and secure itself. Plant 1 or 2 tubers in an 8" pot (depending on size of the tubers).
Begonias are tropical plants and they need warm soil. If you live in a cool climate, it's best to hold off planting begonias outdoors until the soil is 60°F and the nights are relatively warm. In northern areas this will be late May to early June.
CARING FOR BEGONIAS AFTER THEY BLOOM
Begonias are sensitive to cold and will not survive freezing temperatures. In zones 3-7, they are usually treated as annuals. At the end of the growing season, simply put the entire plant in your compost pile. If you want to save your begonia tubers and replant them next spring, here’s how to do it:
After the first light frost, dig up the plant, keeping the stems attached to the tubers. Gently remove most of the soil from the roots. Lay the plant in a warm, dry place where it will be protected from freezing temperatures.
After a couple weeks, the foliage should easily pull away from the tuber. If not, let the tuber and stems dry a bit longer. Wrap each tuber separately in newspaper or put them in paper lunchbags. Store these in a cardboard box, in a dry, dark place where the temperature is about 50 degrees.
In warm climates (hardiness zones 8-11) begonia tubers can be left outdoors, but it's important to keep them from getting too wet during the winter. If you have planted your begonias in the garden, dig up the tubers and follow the same directions as above. If your begonias are in containers, you can simply move the pots to a covered location where they won't get rained on.