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Growing Begonias

Growing Begonias

Santa Cruz Sunset Begonia



Begonias are shade tolerant plants great for pots, window boxes, hanging baskets for garden beds. Often grown as annuals, they are tender (zone 10) perennials.

There are several types of begonias available, and breeders have developed varieties in each type with attractively colored flowers and foliage.

  • Tuberous types (Begonia tuberhybrida) are large-flowered and often grown in containers and hanging baskets. As their name implies, they produce bulb-like tubers. These tubers are irregular in shape, with a concave (curved in) top and rounded bottom.
  • Fibrous types (Begonia semperflorens) are sometimes called wax begonias due to their shiny leaves. This type has fibrous roots and does not form tubers. They are commonly used as bedding plants in shady areas.
  • Boliviensis types have long, narrow foliage and drooping flowers with extended petals. They are originally native to Bolivia and Argentina.

How To Plant

Plant tubers outdoors in spring after all danger of frost. Cover tubers with about an inch of soil and keep them moist until they sprout. For earlier blooms begonia bulbs can be started in pots 8 to 10 weeks before outdoor planting time, after danger of frost has passed.

Starting begonias from seed is an economical way to fill pots, hanging baskets and landscapes. Start seed  be in a sterile starting mix, kept at 68-75° F, 10-12 weeks prior to last frost. Seeds will benefit from light, so do not cover with soil and expect germination in 15 to 20 days. Transplant seedlings to a larger pot when there are 2 sets of true leaves. To prevent shock, harden off plants prior to planting outdoors. 


Begonias are generally easy-to-grow as long sited in a favorable location. They grow best in partly shaded areas and dislike full sun conditions. Begonias are best in cool climates and dislikes hot, dry summer conditions. Plant in moist, well-drained soil with a good organic matter content.

Before the first fall frost, bring potted plants inside or dig up plants and store tubers in dry peat moss or vermiculite in a cool, frost-free area for the winter. Overwintered tubers can be planted again indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Begonias are moderate feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Use full rates of AlgoPlus Flowering Plant 4-6-7 Liquid Fertilizer, Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1, or Osmocote 14-14-14.

Common Problems

Powdery mildew and stem rot diseases can occur in humid climates. Aphid, mealybug, whitefly, slugs, and snails sometimes attack plants.

Alternative Products

Our extensive selection of Heucheras provide hardy foliage for shaded spots. Our beautiful Astilbes with their colorful plumes are hardy flowering perennials for part to full shade.

Product Recommendations

Eight Insecticide Liquid Concentrate can be used if insects attack plants. Sluggo Plus can be used if snails or slugs are a problem. Can be combined with annual plants in mixed containers.

Begonia Facts

Begonia seed is very tiny and dust-like, so the seed is usually coated with a colored clay to make the seed easier to handle and plant.


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