Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Beguiling Begonias by A.M. Westerling

Begonias, both tuberous and fibrous, are one of our favourite flowering plants for the garden. If you’ve followed my earlier gardening posts, you’ll know I frequently say, “The secret to a successful garden is to find the plants that like the space you have.” We love begonias because begonias love us!


Our yard is a mixture of shade and sun and begonias thrive wherever we plant them. I’ve put them in the ground, in containers and hanging pots, making sure I use planter box mix for the containers and hanging pots. I fertilize immediately with root fertilizer then afterwards every two weeks with 20 20 20. I also dead head regularly to promote more blooms.


Begonias are originally from central and south America so in our northern climate, they’re annuals. However, they flower all summer long. The blooms on the tuberous begonias have a deep, vibrant colour, including red, orange, yellow, pink and white with large, lobed leaves. These come in two forms, either upright or trailing and can reach 3 feet or more in outdoor containers. We have a display of tuberous begonias on our patio, picture below.


Fibrous, or wax, begonias have waxy leaves in either pale green or dark green. They grow in mounds of 6 inches to twelve inches and have single or double flowers in red, pink or white. I'm really pleased the way this pot of fibrous begonias turned out this year. It's a sunny spot and as you can see, they're quite happy there. (Below) 

Another sunny spot is beside our bird bath. Fibrous begonias always do well in the front left spot. This was last year, and below that is this year's display. 


A few planting tips: Begonias prefer a location that’s partially shady or filtered sunlight. Don’t plant them too close together so they have good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew. Keep the soil moist but don’t overwater as this might lead to fungal diseases and stem rot. (I know whereof I speak, I overwater from time to time and next thing you know, one of the stems keels over at soil level. *smacks forehead*). Don’t get water on the leaves to avoid leaf spot (yes, I’ve done this too.) Also, don’t panic if you forget to water them, they don’t mind dry soil. I’ve never had a problem with pests but apparently they are susceptible to mites, thrips, whitefly and mealy bugs.


A warning to pet owners, they are toxic to pets, particularly the tubers. They are not toxic to humans although they may cause an allergic reaction. Begonias are deer resistant.


Begonias have a number of medicinal purposes. The entire plant can be used and it has a sweet, acrid flavour. You can make an infusion by soaking the flowers in hot water to eliminate headaches and rid the body of toxins. The crushed leaves and flowers can also be rubbed directly on the skin to heal sores or burns and to relieve pain. Apparently, begonias can be used to treat bronchitis, candidiasis, colds, digestive disorders, dysentery, liver problems, swelling, scrofula and menstrual disorders.


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  1. Deer resistant is good since though I live in the burbs, I've been entertaining a herd of five many mornings. Keep writing

    1. Hi Janet, yes, it's hard to find plants that are deer resistant. As my late sister in law used to say, If you can plant it, deer can eat it!"

  2. You certainly have a green thumb. Great pictures. Thanks for the advice. In the harsh Arizona desert heat, however, one must learn the art of overwatering, although good drainage is also essential.

    1. Hi Vijaya, as far as my green thumb, I've killed my fair share of plants....LOL Yes, gardening in the Arizona heat must be tricky.

  3. Lots of information about begonias, one of my favourite flowers, and great photos.

  4. I love them too, and never knew they could be toxic to pets. I will be wary in future. I certainly do not live anywhere that I am likely to see a passing deer, but the paddock behind us is currently being prepared for new housing so we will probably see another surfeit of rabbits, which unfortunately have lost their homes.


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