This article is about the various begonia types worth considering for your garden. Whether you’re familiar with begonias or not, the information in this article will help you understand the kind of begonia you have or should have.
Surprisingly, you could be having one of the most beautiful begonias like the Begonia maculata also known as spotted begonia/ the polka dot begonia. Or, maybe the most popular begonia - the wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens).
In this article, you’ll also find the hardiest begonias like Begonia grandis which is a perennial species that can survive harsh winters in Brooklyn and areas in USDA Zones 6 through 9.
Plus, you’ll also see how easy it is to grow begonias, especially Cane begonias. (they’re the easiest to grow).
So, read through this article and learn how many types of begonia you could possibly add to your collection.
What Are Begonias?
Begonias are easy to care for, robust blooming plants. They originated from the tropical, humid climate and this is why they are typically grown as annuals. But, in some climates and conditions, they can be grown as perennials.
Most begonia types are annuals (last only one season). Nevertheless, you can save tubers from your tuberous begonias to replant the next year. Alternatively, bring the annual begonias indoors as houseplants during winter.
There are other types of begonias like Begonia grandis and rhizomatous begonias which are grown as perennials in warmer regions.
Do Begonias like sun or shade?
Although begonias are tropical and subtropical plants, they are shade-loving plants. Their leaves can be damaged when exposed to direct sunlight.
While some species like tuberous begonias prefer more shade, others like wax begonias can tolerate direct sunlight. So, the issue of sun or shade is dependent upon individual begonia type.
Do Begonias need a lot of water?
All begonia types thrive in well-drained soil that’s neither too dry nor saturated with water.
Therefore, practice good watering habits such that your plants get the right amount of moisture. To understand more about watering your plants, read our article on How to Water Potted Plants and Keep them Happy.
How to Grow Begonias
Begonias can be grown as annuals on the ground/outside in growing zones 9 through 11. They usually perform best in the spring, summer, and fall months.
On the other hand, you can grow your begonias in pots/containers as perennials. These plants make great, easy-to-care indoor-flowering houseplants. Although some begonia varieties perform better than others indoors.
Uses of Begonia Plants
Most begonia varieties have flowers that appear to hang down slightly thus, making them ideal for hanging baskets, bedding plants, window boxes, and other containers (ornamental purposes).
In addition to this, begonias are rabbit and deer-resistant hence they play a major role in protecting the other garden plants.
Furthermore, begonias can be used as both medicinal and culinary plants.
All types of begonia are considered toxic to both humans and animals such as cats, dogs, and horses. This is because begonias contain a crystalline substance known as calcium oxalate - which is mildly toxic.
What Kind of Begonia Do You Have? Different Begonia Types with Pictures
1. Wax Begonias
Wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens) are the most common type of begonia varieties around the world. They are typically grown as annuals.
These plants have white, pink, or red flowers and dark green waxy leaves. Wax begonias are very popular with a majority of gardeners due to their various uses e.g. for growing in planters, bedding, or hanging baskets. They hence, make an outstanding to any indoor or outdoor space.
The wax begonia plants are small in size and mature at approximately 15 – 30 cm (6” to 12”) tall. Most cultivars of wax begonias are cold-hardy in zones 10 and 11.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of wax begonias.
a). Begonia Ambassador Scarlet
This is a compact wax begonia variety characterized by attractive red flowers with yellow centers. Plus, they have small, rounded, glossy-green leaves.
The Begonia Ambassador Scarlet are annuals and thrive best in full sun to partial shade. Mostly used as bedding plants, for hanging baskets, or in containers.
b). Cocktail Series begonia
These are fibrous-rooted begonias with dark bronze, almost black foliage, and frail bunches of white, red, and pink blooms.
The Cocktail Series Begonias grows best in moist and well-drained soils under full to partial sun (about 4 to 6 hours of sunlight.
Their growth habit is upright and can grow to a mature size of about 12-inches tall (30cm) and 15-inches wide (38cm). This wax begonia variety can survive winter in Zones 10 and 11 and they bloom continuously.
c). ‘Party’ Series Wax Begonia
The wax begonia ‘Party’ Series have large bright-green waxy leaves with a red tinge on the edges. Their flowers are pink, scarlet red, or pinkish-white.
‘Party’ Series begonias grow typically grow to a height of about 20’’(50cm) and the leaves can withstand a few hours of direct sunshine.
d). Senator White Wax Begonia
The Senator White Wax Begonia is characterized by a spectacular display of dark bronze leaves and pure white blooms.
This type of wax begonia is heat and drought-tolerant and thrives well as an annual in summer gardens.
e). ‘Doublet Red’ Wax Begonia
‘Doublet Red’ has small, frilled-red, rose-like blooms and bronze-green shiny leaves. It grows up to 12 inches tall and wide.
Its succulent, heart-shaped leaves stay dark green all year round.
f). ‘Ambassador Rose’ Wax Begonia
Another one of wax begonia that’s resistant to drought and pests hence, a perfect choice for beginners. The thick fleshy green leaves of an ‘Ambassador Rose’ create an amazing contrast with its large flowers.
This begonia blooms all summer long producing bright pink flowers with touches of yellow at the center of the bloom.
Check out our article on Wax Begonia Care: Do Begonias Like Sun or Shade? to learn more about wax begonias.
2. Cane Begonias
These are upright-growing begonias with thick stems. They are mostly known for their wing-shaped leaves with polka-dot patterns and a wide range of colorful blossoms.
Types of Cane Begonias
a). Angel-wing Begonia
Angel-wing begonias (Begonia x coralline) is one of the most recognizable types of begonia. They are Native to Brazil and they depict an upright growing habit. Their leaves are dotted with unique colors and a spectacular flower display.
This type of cane begonias is easy to grow and care for and can be grown indoors all year round. The Angel-wing begonias growth rate is moderately high as you can see changes in growth in just about six weeks.
The size of a mature Angel-wing begonia is 12 to 30 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide.
b). Dragon-wing Begonias
The Dragon-wing begonias (begonia x hybrida ‘Dragon Wings’) are also commonly known as Begonia ‘Dragon Wing Red’, Dragon Red Wing Begonia, or Cane Begonia.
They’re 2- to 3-foot tall, cane-forming begonias with drooping clusters of flowers and deep, glossy-green, 5-inch long leaves.
Their lush-green leaves and colorful flowers plus, their high tolerance to both humidity and heat has made them become some of the most popular begonia types to most gardeners. (winter hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11).
Although both Angel-wing and Dragon-wing are hybrid cane begonias with similar shapes, they’re different plants.
While the Angel-wing leaves have a spotted pattern, those of the Drago-wing begonias don’t have any variations.
3. Rex Begonias
Rex begonias (Begonia rex-cultorum) have rhizomatous roots and pointed heart-shaped leaves with fascinating patterns (which makes them unique and popular). These begonias usually grow up to 12 inches and 18 inches (30 – 45 cm) tall and wide.
Even though Rex begonias produce flowers, most growers don’t grow them for flowers but the beautiful foliage variations. The leaf colors range from red to pink, silver, grey, purple, and dark green.
Rex Begonia Types
a). Rex Begonia Hybrid ‘Merry Christmas’
‘Merry Christmas’ rex begonia has bright lime-green leaves with pronounced reddish-maroon veins and a slightly fuzzy textured leaf surface.
b). Begonia Rex ‘Paul Gibory’
This type of Rex begonia has pointed, heart-shaped leaves with pointed edges at the lobes. The lobes also have small hair-like growths. The leaf edges are surrounded by pink and lilac colors and a maroon center.
c). Rex Begonia Hybrid ‘J Gillinwators’
The Rex begonia hybrid ‘J Gillinwators’ exhibits fragile, pink flowers with four petals on its bright red stems.
d). Begonia Rex ‘Zurich’
Consists of vibrant pointed leaves that resemble those of a caladium plant. This begonia shows off heart-shaped leaves in pink, green, deep burgundy, and silver hues, green edges, pink, and silver patterns, and dark veins in the middle.
e). Painted-leaf Rex Begonia
It’s also called the ‘King Begonia’. Its oval leaves grow in spiral shapes and have spiral patterns. The leaves are silvery-grey and green and have pink edges and a fuzzy texture.
4. Rhizomatous Begonias
Rhizomatous begonias are a large group of Begonia species, hybrids, and selections. They’re characterized by large, sometimes-colorful leaves that arise from thick rhizomes growing along the soil surface.
The white or pink flower clusters that appear in late winter and spring are a plus with these plants.
In North Florida, a majority of gardeners use some types of rhizomatous begonias as herbaceous perennials. This helps at bringing out boldness to shady gardens through leaf texture and color.
These begonia cultivars and hybrids are also called ‘fancy-leaf,’ ‘king,’ or ‘painted leaf’ begonias.
Examples of Rhizomatous Begonias are; ‘Beef Steak’ begonias and Rex begonias such as Red Heart Rex Begonia, Raindance Rex Begonia, and Purple Rain Rex Begonia.
5. Tuberous begonias
Tuberous begonias (Begonia × tuberhybrida) are popular for their beautiful red, orange, yellow, white, salmon, and pink flowers.
The blossoms may be either single or double and may be plain, ruffled, or toothed. On the other hand, the petals may have margins or blotches of contrasting color.
These begonias grow best in shady locations where few other plants with showy flowers and long bloom periods can thrive. Plus, they bloom throughout the summer.
They’re native to tropical South America and southern Africa so, most varieties available in garden centers are hybrids with complex parentage but share the same growing needs.
Examples of tuberous begonias with large, double rose-like flowers include; Begonia ‘Illumination’ series, Begonia ‘Non-Stop Joy Mocca White’, Begonia ‘Sunpleasures Apricot’, and Begonia ‘Patio’ series.
Although there are many types of Begonia, the most common ones that you will find are the tuberous and fibrous types.
They make stunning houseplants due to their intricate leaves and can be bought relatively easily from garden centers or online shops. Low-maintenance and beautiful, Begonias are a great option for anyone looking to add some color to their home.
And don’t forget to share this post with any friends or family who might be interested in learning more about these beautiful plants.