Begonias Burst With Bright Color in the Cool Shade

Keep these beauties cool and they will show off all summer long.

If you are looking for a plant that produces beautiful colored flowers, is easy to grow, and does well in shade or in containers, the begonia is just what you need. Depending on the type, begonias can grow to be 8 inches to over 5 ft. in height and will make the most impact planted in masses in flower beds, container gardens, or window boxes. Flowers come in a variety of colors, including red, white, pink and yellow, and can be single or double blooms, with delicate, ruffled or smooth petals. Begonias prefer warm climates especially in rich, fertile, well-drained soil. Remove dead flowers, leaves and stems when necessary. Most importantly, begonias cannot tolerate freezing temperatures; they should be brought indoors before the first frost. Here is a run-down on four of the most popular varieties of begonias.

Cane-Type Begonias

They get their name from their stems, which are tall and woody, with prominent bamboo-like joints. This group includes angel-wing begonias, named for their folded, often spotted or splotched leaves, which resemble wings. Cane-type begonias, such as 'Bubbles' and 'Honeysuckle,' have multiple stems, some reaching 5 ft. or more. Most bear profuse large clusters of white, pink, orange, or red flowers from early springs through autumn, and some are even everblooming.

Dragonwing Begonias

A hybrid between angel-wing (cane-type) and semperflorens begonias, this variety has shiny green leaves on with bright red flowers that bloom from spring until frost. Dragonwing begonias are excellent as bedding plants and in containers and do best with morning sun and light afternoon shade. Beware: Dragonwings tend to burn in hot afternoon sun.

Semperflorens Begonias

Also known as fibrous, bedding, or wax begonias, both dwarf and taller strains are grown in garden beds or containers as annuals; they bloom from spring through fall, producing lots of small flowers in a white through red range. They can thrive in full sun in the Upper South and prefer filtered shade elsewhere.

Hardy Begonias

Several begonias are hardy throughout the South, but B. grandis, known as hardy begonia, is the best known. It grows from a tuber, reaches 2-3 ft. tall and wide, with pink or white summer flowers borne in drooping clusters. Hardy begonias like moist, woodsy soil and light shade, and are excellent planted with other shade-loving plants such as ferns, hostas, and hellebores.

Tuberous Begonias

These magnificent large-flowered hybrids grow from tubers. They range from plants with saucer-size blooms and a few upright stems to multi-stemmed hanging basket types covered with small flowers. Except from some rate kinds, they bloom in summer and fall, in almost every color except blue.

Fun Facts About Begonias

The begonia is related to pumpkins, squash, gourds, cucumbers and melons

Tuberous and wax begonias are edible and have a citrusy taste

Begonia seeds are one of the smallest in the world of flowers. One ounce of seed can produce as many as 3 million seedlings.

The begonia flower means "be cautious."

In the past, begonias were used to polish sword blades

Begonias can store water in their stems, making them drought-tolerant

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