The Begonia Family includes hundreds of species from all continents except Europe and Australia and thousands of
hybrids created by enthusiasts everywhere. Begonias are known as the great foliage impostors. Their leaves can
resemble ivies, ferns, aralias, grasses, and peperomias. Leaves can be
flat, pebbled, shiny, hairy, fuzzy, or spiralled. Leaves can be almost
any color or combination of colors. Flowers are in all colors but blue,
and can be found growing as tiny single blossoms growing out of a
stem to foot-wide clusters of hundreds of tiny flowers to giant double
blossoms ten inches or more in diameter. Some need greenhouses or
terrariums to grow. Others can be planted right in the ground here in
Sacramento and become large landscape plants giving years of beauty
SOIL: The mix should be slightly acid containing loose, well-draining
ingredients such as perlite, vermiculite, and sphagnum peat and/or leaf
mold (oak leaf, if available). Good commercial mixes work well.
CLIMATE AND TEMPERATURE: Begonias like bright, shady
areas out of direct mid-day sun. Good ventilation results in good
growth. Optimum temperatures range from 55 degrees at night to about
85 in the day. As to extremes, some can survive short bouts of
freezing, and others can withstand our hundred degree summers.
Higher humidity (through fine misting) helps them grow better in
WATER AND DRAINAGE: The soil should become neither
excessively dry nor allowed to stay sopping wet. The well-draining
mix mentioned above helps achieve optimum conditions. Plants should be watered thoroughly when the top of the
mix becomes dry to the touch.
FERTILIZING: Most growers prefer to water with dissolved fertilizer, although time release types which stay on
the mix surface offer good results, also. As a rule, 1/4 recommended strength used at each or every other watering is
more effective than heavier applications at longer intervals. This also allows for using different fertilizers more
often, which gives a better supply of trace elements and micro-nutrients. Never fertilize a dry, dormant, or sick plant.
LIGHT: While classified as shade plants, too little light will result in weak spindly growth. Most varieties do well
with direct morning sun or dappled sunlight all day long. Light that grows healthy African Violets is good for
growing healthy begonias. The bedding semperflorens type, however, can be grown in direct, daylong sun here in
PRUNING: Prune in late winter, early spring when new growth starts. Pinch growing tips (soft-pinching)
throughout the growing season to shape plants, fill them out, and keep them within bounds.
GENERAL CULTURE: Begonias have shallow root systems. Except for tall-growing canes and shrubs, they
prefer shallow pots. Repot only the next larger pot as begonias do not like overpotting. Use either clay or plastic
pots as your cultural conditions require.