Why grow begonias? There are so many good reasons why someone might want to grow begonias as houseplants, not the least of which is their beautiful flowers and simple care requirements. With so few choices when it comes to plants that will bloom indoors, it is fortunate that begonias are easy to come by, inexpensive and forgiving of forgetful watering.
There are lots of different kinds of begonias. The most common begonias grown as houseplants are tuberous begonias (Begonia x tuberhybrida), such as the Non-Stop variety, Reiger Begonias (Begonia x hiemalis), rhizomatous begonias, and Rex Begonias which are grown for their attractive foliage. Flower colors vary widely and are often very brilliant. Scarlet begonias make a bold statement while some of the more delicate pinks and whites are more elegant. I am particularly fond of some of the Reiger Begonias that have dark, ruffled petals and the Apricot Non-Stop Begonia. They really put on a show!
Begonias are ideal for use as houseplants because they actually prefer lower light levels than most flowering plants. They will thrive in bright shade to full shade which makes them pretty versatile. Rooms with a northern or eastern exposure are often difficult to grow plants in, but begonias love it. When light levels are too high, the leaves will scorch and the plant will begin to deteriorate pretty rapidly so donít try to force sun on them. It will not be appreciated!
Begonias also like the indoor environment because of the warm temperatures it provides. Begonias are rated for USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, so they can only be grown as annuals outdoors. For this reason, if you decide to put your begonias outside for a while be aware of the temperatures they will be exposed to at night. This is when they are most likely to be damaged by low temperatures, and they canít handle frost.
Caring for begonias is really easy. They prefer a potting mix that allows for good drainage. Be sure that there is a hole in the bottom of the pot, as begonias should never be allowed to sit in water. They are very intolerant of excessive moisture. I let my begonias stay on the dryer side, watering them thoroughly only when they have gotten fairly dry.
Some dead-heading may be required for many varieties. Usually this isnít a big deal and is done for aesthetic purposes. Also, avoid letting spent blooms sit on the soil surface. Good plant hygiene will help keep away bugs and fungal diseases.
Almost any type of fertilizer will work well for begonias. Look for one that supplies both macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. They are all essential for good plant health. I use a water soluble type fertilizer at every watering. If you are going to fertilize at every watering, it is a good idea to dilute the mix to half strength or occasionally water with plain water to flush out the salts that accumulate in the pot.
Begonias are very easy to care for and some of the most beautiful varieties can be found in good independent garden centers. If color and ease of care is what you are looking for, look no further. Try adding a begonia to your collection. Choose a natural-colored pot that allows the natural radiance of the plant to shine and you will have a gorgeous, living focal point in any room.