We all know the wax begonias because they are the most common container and landscape plants out there. But did you know that there are at least 10000 species of this plant?
So, the begonias that you know may just be a scratch on the surface. These shade-loving plants are well-loved because of their hardy nature and beautiful flowers, grown as annuals in many parts of the world.
While the types of begonias that we will feature here are just a scratch on the surface, they can certainly help in narrowing your choice on the type of begonia that should make it in your landscape.
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Before we get to the type of begonias, it would be useful to know some interesting facts about this popular houseplant.
- There are 2000 species of begonias thriving in both tropical and subtropical regions.
- They have a succulent stem where they store water, useful during drought periods.
- It produces a dry fruit called a winged capsule. It contains the seeds that are dried during the winter to be planted in spring.
- Generally, there are just three types of begonias: tuberous, semperflorens and the uncommon perennials.
- Tuberous and semperflorens begonias are edible and have a citrusy taste.
- It is related to the pumpkin, squash, and gourd family.
- The name begonia is derived from Michel Begon, an amateur botanist and the administrative officer of the naval port which sent navigations to the Americas where the begonia plant was discovered in the 1600s.
- The Begonia Kimjongilia is the state flower of North Korea.
- During the medieval era, begonias were used to polish sword blades.
- Begonia seeds are considered as the smallest seeds in the flower world.
Like all other flowers and plants, begonias are also laden with various meanings and symbolisms. On a negative note, begonias are said to convey a message of caution, bad luck, and tragedy. But on a more uplifting side, it is also believed to express harmony, justice, and gratitude. It also means working out a relationship through communication.
Begonia symbolisms are also connected to old lore in various cultures around the world. For instance, ancient Greek lore highlights that a woman can see the man she loves in her dreams if she lets down her hair and puts a begonia in her bosom before she sleeps.
In Chinese traditions, especially in feng shui, begonias are associated with the fire element. It is also connected to caution but also of revelation and stepping-up. In Chinese arranged marriages, begonia paintings are also given as a sign of ‘no rush.’
As a tattoo, begonias can be open to various interpretations, but it is believed that it conveys love, compassion, open-mindedness, and growth.
16 types of begonias
1. Flowering begonias
They are more known as Reiger begonias and compared to the wax variety, their flowers are showier. As houseplants, they love cooler temperatures. However, they do not last long, and they require more meticulous care tips. The Solenia series is its most notable variety:
- Solenia Dusty rose
- Solenia Velvet red
- Solenia Apricot
- Solenia Cherry
- Solenia Light Yellow
2. Rex begonias
It is a subcategory of rhizomatous begonias. They are considered to have the showiest foliage of all species. Their flowers, however, are small and insignificant. They are usually cultivated as houseplants. If you are looking for standout rex begonias, you should check out the following:
- Tornado rex begonia: dark green leaves, with silver and bronze patterns and deep purple splotches
- Ballet rex begonia: silver-green leaves, red stems, and reddish margins
- Fairy rex begonia: silver leaves with shades of cream and pink, and sports dark green veins
- Pink Charming rex begonia: generally light pink foliage, with hints of silver and green hues
- Duarte rex begonia: pointy, veined foliage with shades of silver and bronze
3. Angel wing begonias
They are also called cane begonias because of their adjoined, bamboo-like stems. They are identifiable for their spotted leaves and clusters of flowers. Their stems also have an arching habit, so they make beautiful houseplants in hanging baskets. It has one of the widest range of varieties, but the most notable ones would be the following:
- Elizabeth Lahn
- Fancy Face
- Pink Jade
- California Dreaming
- Down Home
- Dan Thompson
4. Tuberous begonias
This group is known for their large, showy, neon-colored flowers that bloom from mid-summer to fall. They have potato-like roots that are dug up to be planted as annuals. They fare well both indoors and outdoors. The most popular tuberous begonia cultivars are the following:
- Dragon Wing series
- Encanto Orange
- Hanging Basket series
- Lace Apricot
5. Wax begonias
They are also called the fibrous-rooted begonias because of their root balls enclosed within roots. They are identifiable for their small, waxy leaves with equally small flowers that can survive the winter if they are placed near a bright location.
- ‘Charm’ begonia
- Richmond begonia
- Ambassador series begonia
- Cocktail series begonia
- ‘Doublet white’ begonia
6. Hardy begonias
They are scientifically called the Begonia grandis. They are the hardiest types of begonias, hence, the name. They grow well in southern gardens or in zone 6.
They have the same tuberous roots like the tuberous begonias but its flowers are just limited to white and pink ones. If you are looking for the best hardy begonias, you should start with the following:
- Garden Angel Blush
- Garden Angel Plum
- Garden Angel Silver
- Heron’s Pirouette
7. Rhizomatous begonias
As the term suggests, they have fleshy roots and stems that creep along the soil’s surface. They are cultivated as houseplants and loved because of their foliage and ground cover. Here are some popular varieties of this type of begonia:
- Iron Cross
8. Double begonias
These begonias grow and look like roses. They are bushy, compact, and they feature large, double flowers of white, orange, pink, and red. With their upright growth habit, they are usually planted in containers or used as bedding plants in landscapes.
The foliage is dark green, oval and serrated on the edges. The Roseform series of double begonias are the most stunning cultivars of this begonia type. This includes:
- Roseform (Orange, Peach, Pink, Red, Rose, White and Yellow)
9. Fimbriata begonias
These ones on the other hand highly resemble carnations because of their sturdy, fleshy stems, and fringed, drooping petals of peach, pink, and white colors. They have a dark green, serrated foliage that is also drooping in nature.
They can be grown as annuals in containers, but they are also perfect as border plants in the landscape. The ‘ruffled red’ is its most popular cultivar.
10. Hanging begonias
As the term implies, they are most used for hanging baskets because of their arching, drooping nature. Other than that, they are also prolific bloomers, producing large, and showy, bright colored flowers every month. Aside from being hanged beauties, they can also be perfect container plants planted in window boxes.
They can brighten up any room with their interesting shades and colors. Here are some of the best hanging begonia cultivars to look for:
- Cascade pink
- Pendula white
- Cascade white
- Cascade red
11. Double picotee begonias
If you want a focal point flowering plant in your landscape, this one should be one of your top choices. They are two-toned begonias, with double flowers that look like roses. They have an upright growth habit and are usually planted alongside solid-colored begonias to create a visual contrast.
However, these begonias should be kept entirely in the shade as they have low tolerance to heat. Here are some of the most beautiful double picotee begonias to check out:
- All that Jazz
- First Love
- Lace Mix
- Ruby Dalmatian
- Red Edge
12. Non-stop begonias
These begonias belong to a hybrid series called non-stop because they continually bloom, small two-toned flowers all summer and up to early fall. Their colors range from bright yellow, rose pink, orange and white with splashes of pink.
They are one of the most compact begonias and are perfect potted plants. The non-stop begonia series is a subtype of tuberous begonias.
13. Dragon wings begonia
The hanging flower clusters of these begonias make them the perfect plants for hanging baskets. They thrive more in filtered shade and indoors, they should be placed somewhere bright.
Its tiny flowers come in white, red, and pink colors and bloom profusely and continuously from spring to fall. The stems are thin but fleshy plus the foliage are oval and lancing, glossy, finely serrated and with a pink outline.
14. Multiflora begonias
These tuberous begonias work well in containers and hanging baskets. They thrive well in dappled light and lots of shade.
Clusters of flowers droop down from one stalk. It is another good choice for a color burst in your garden as they come in yellow, pink, scarlet, salmon, and apricot colors. Its most popular varieties would be the following:
- Floribunda carriere
15. Interspecific begonias
These begonias are often confused with wax begonias but with comparably larger blooms and more profuse blooming nature. The color of their blooms come in red, pink, and white blooming from mid-spring to early winter.
Its most popular varieties would be the sought-after Whopper, and the Big series. Here are the interspecific begonias that you should look out for:
- Barbara Rogers
- Emperor Red
- Party Pink
- Prelude White
- Senator Red
16. Bolivian begonias
These are wild species of begonias usually found on the cliff sides in South America like Peru and Bolivia. Its small flowers have a pendulous growth habit and its stems are dangling.
Their natural colors are red and orange but hybrids now sport pink, yellow and two-tone flowers. They are perfect for hanging baskets as well as containers. The most notable Bolivian begonia cultivars would be the following:
- Bossa Nova Pure White
- Million Kisses Elegance
- Mistral Pink
- San Francisco
- Santa Cruz
Begonia plant care
If by chance this list of begonia types have gotten you engrossed with this houseplant, here are some care requirements for the plant that you should know of and be prepared for.
- Sun: Begonias thrive well with the mid-day sun and the afternoon shade. When grown indoors, they require bright and indirect light.
- Soil: This plant loves well-draining soils and when grown in containers and hanging baskets, they would fare well with soilless potting mixes.
- Water: Regardless if it is grown indoors or outdoors, watering should only be done when the top soil begins to dry. While begonias love moisture, they do not appreciate being too wet because they can be prone to rots.
- Fertilizer: Every other week, you should spray your begonias with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Fertilizing should be stopped in the winter as they stop growing when fall comes.
Where to buy begonias?
If you are already set to buying begonias for your landscape, here are the stores where you could buy an array of begonia cultivars.
- American Meadows
- Eden Brothers
- Evergreen Nursery
- Kartuz Greenhouses
- Glasshouse Works
- Grow Joy
- Longfield Gardens
- Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses
- Mountain Orchids
- Palm Hammock
- The Violet Barn
- Tropical World Nursery
- White Flower Farm
With all these begonia types, it is also important that you are backed up with useful information on your route of planting, caring for, and propagating one. As such, here are some FAQs about begonias that you should be aware of.
How many types of begonias are there?
Notwithstanding the subtypes that are often listed as begonia type because of their range of cultivars, there are at least 14 types of begonias. As a species, it has more or less than 2000 species, with the hybrid ones composing most of the species.
What type of soil is best for begonias?
Begonias generally thrive in well-draining soils, or a light potting mix composed of perlite/vermiculite, coco coir and light, free-draining soil.
Are begonias poisonous to pets?
Yes, but specifically on cats. When it comes in contact with their mouth area, it would leave irritation and an intense burning sensation. When ingested, they can cause uncontrolled drooling, vomiting as well as difficulty in swallowing. It is not, however, toxic to dogs.
Are begonias deer resistant?
Not all of them. Only those with waxy and fuzzy stems seem to be deer resistant. The rest do not fare well on the nibbling of deer.
Do all begonias spread?
No. Only the fibrous and waxy begonias have a fast-spreading nature. The good thing about these spreading begonias is that they are not considered invasive, and they are also deer resistant. As ground cover, they are efficient for their 6-12 inches spread.
Is it true that begonias have health benefits?
You would be amazed to know that begonias come with a range of health benefits. This is because it contains saponins, flavonoids, and alkaloids. They are also packed with magnesium, calcium, and Vitamin C. In the olden times, they are boiled as tea because of the following health benefits:
- Heals dysentery
- Alleviates asthma, bronchitis, coughs, and flu
- Brightens the skin
- Helps in digestion and rheumatoid problems
- Helps in bleeding problems
What are the top 10 most popular begonia varieties?
There is no settling for less when it comes to begonias so if you are looking for the most popular ones, you should first checkout the following:
- Bellagio (Apricot, Blush and Pink)
- Big Red
- Big Rose
- Cocktail (Vodka, Whiskey)
- Doublet (Rose and White)
- Dragon Wing Red
- Mandalay Pearl
- Sprint Scarlet
- Super Olympia Coral
Are begonias annuals or perennials?
Begonias are considered as perennials but in colder climates, specifically zones 3-9, they are cultivated as annuals. Given this, one can say that begonias are truly versatile houseplants, and we now get where the rave over these plants is coming from.
Which begonias need the most sun?
Of all types of begonias, the types that require the most sunlight would be wax begonias, specifically those with bronze leaves. Angel wings are also a fan of lots of sunlight, but they need to be transferred in the shade in the afternoon.
What species are considered as rare begonias?
If you are a collector of rare plant species, here are the following rare begonias that you should check out:
- Aureo maculata
- Blancii variegata
- Polka dot begonia
- Painted leaf begonia
- Begonia tie dye
For a more complete list of rare begonias, click here.
How long do begonias last outdoors?
Depending on the type of begonia grown, these houseplants last up to 3 years outside. They die back in the winter and start growing again after the season so if you are a beginner, note that they enter dormancy every year but that does not mean that they have died.
Do begonias require deadheading?
Begonias are generally resilient and easy to care for. As such, they do not require deadheading. However, if you want fast-growing stems and earlier blooms, you can make the effort to do begonia deadheading. This includes checking for faded flowers every three days during bloom time.
Do begonias need constant pruning?
Begonias that are grown as perennials need constant pruning to maintain their shape and bloom patterns. The best time to prune perennial begonias would be right after the bloom period. Winter flowering begonias on the other hand should be pruned during spring to make sure that they are ready for profuse blooming come fall to winter.
How do I propagate begonias?
Begonia propagation can take four forms: through planting seeds, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings and tuber planting. The best time to propagate begonias would be during spring. If you are looking for a specific month to plant it, begonia enthusiasts and experts recommend outdoor planting during May.
If planted by tuber or seeds, make sure that they are watered regularly and given fertilizer with high potassium content. For a steady tuber propagation in the future, dig up the tubers in fall and store them in a safe, dry place during winter.
Can begonias be overwintered?
Some begonia types like the angel wings and rex begonias thrive well in cool climates with harsher winters, but like all the other types of begonias, they cannot tolerate extreme, below freezing point conditions.
If you happen to live in these climates, begonias can be overwintered indoors but in specific conditions. You have to find a spot where the humidity is high, and where it gets just enough light.
Can begonias live in water?
Yes. We have mentioned earlier that begonia could also be propagated through stem and leaf cutting. As such, you can grow them in containers with just water and perlite. An addition of rooting hormone can be added to aid root growth but even without it, begonias can fare well on their own in water although it would take months before the roots sprout.
As per rule of thumb, make sure that you change the water where it is placed in every week to avoid bacteria build up, causing them to wilt and die.
What are common begonia pests and diseases?
Begonias are not perfect houseplants and like other ornamental plants, they can be vulnerable to pests and diseases. If you find leaf browning, stunted growth, rots, unnatural leaf blotches and bites in your begonia plants, it might be caused by the following:
- Bacterial leaf spots
- Gray molds
- Mealy bugs
- Powdery mildew
- Snails and slugs
- Spider mites
- Spotted wilts
- White flies and shore flies
- Root and stem rots
Most of the mentioned bacteria and fungi related diseases can be controlled using insecticides. Other conditions for begonias to look for would be as follows:
- Curling leaf edges: lacks moisture
- Small young leaves: lack of soil nutrition
- Wilting leaves: exposure to gas fumes
- Dropping leaves during winter: too cold; needs to be overwintered indoors
The world loves begonias for many reasons but ultimately, for its year-round showy foliage and beautiful summer and fall flowers. Aside from that, they are very uncomplicated plants to grow and take care of. Be it indoors or outdoors, planted in containers, in the soil bed or in hanging baskets, begonias are standout plants for all seasons.