Big Bloomers: Begonias

In a pot or in the garden, these flowers earn rave reviews.
Gene B. Bussell

Bright dreams of containers and beds brimming with flowers fill your slumber in spring. When you awaken and arrive at the garden center, the dreams are still there, but so are the realities. The choices can be overwhelming. Then you realize what you really want is simple--easy color and easy care.

No flowers fit that description better than 'Dragon Wing' begonias. They have glossy, wing-shaped leaves with pink or red blooms. These plants prefer good morning sun with light afternoon shade. Moist, fertile, well-drained soil is important. Add some organic matter, such as peat or composted manure, to improve your soil. Fertilize regularly to get more flowers. If you are busy or forgetful, use a slow-release, granular product such as Osmocote 14-14-14, which feeds plants for several months.

Look for these begonias at your nursery or garden center. Purchase them in hanging baskets or in 4- or 6-inch pots. Expect to pay around $12 for a hanging basket and $4 for a 4-inch pot. They are well worth the money because 'Dragon Wing' begonias purchased in 4-inch pots will grow into plants 12 to 15 inches high and up to 18 inches across. When bought in small pots, they may have only a few blooms, but don't worry. Once planted, they will soon be covered with flowers that last till frost. Dreams do come true.

"Big Bloomers" is from the April 2006 issue of Southern Living.