Tuberous begonias are all hip and happening again, whether in pots on patios or balconies, or in the border. This is hardly surprising, given that their many flowers can be enjoyed for months in all manner of cheerful colours. Plant the tubers after the last frost to enjoy them this very summer!
Flower and leaf
Tuberous begonias come in all shapes and sizes. Many new varieties have been developed specifically for the garden. From June until the first night frost, they show off their blooms non-stop in red, orange, pink, apricot, yellow and white. In other words, you will enjoy lots of colour for a whopping five months! Their foliage is interesting too, with rounded as well as tapered shapes.
Tuberous begonias are divided into bedding and cascading species or pendulas. The bedding group consists of three categories: double-flowered, small-flowered and single-flowered. Cascading begonias come in large-flowered and small-flowered varieties, with the blooms elegantly cascading down. They really come into their own in taller pots and hanging baskets.
Planting and care
- You can buy begonias in spring as a dry, flat tuber. It is difficult to imagine that such a large plant will grow out of this small tuber.
- Plant them after the risk of night frost has passed since the tubers are not hardy (barring a few exceptions). Most begonias prefer partial shade. Check the packaging for information.
- Keep a planting distance of 25 to 30 centimetres and make sure that the convex side faces down when planting. Sometimes you can already see small shoots on the hollow top. If in doubt, you can plant the tuber on its side.
- Apply a thin layer (1 to 2 centimetres) of soil.
- If you are planting in pots, choose spacious pots with holes in the bottom. Put some shards or clay pellets at the bottom of the pot and use potting soil.
- Water the pot after planting.
- Begonias have shallow roots, so make sure that the top layer does not dry out. The plant will absorb a lot of water, especially when it is in full bloom.
- Faded flowers will fall off the stem of their own accord. How easy is that?
How begonias got their name
The French monk Charles Plumier came across Begonia in the Caribbean during his first botanical journey in 1689 and 1690. He named the plant after Michel Bégon, who had organised the trip. In those days, Bégon was the naval steward at Rochefort, France’s main seaport, from where ships departed to new countries.
- Position several tuberous begonias together to create a lovely corner in your garden or on your balcony.
- You can start planting the tubers indoors as early as March and put them in a warm, light place. This is called forcing bulbs. Once the risk of night frost has passed, you can move them outside.
- Remove the tubers from the soil around the time of the first night frost. If you keep them in a cool and dark place, you will be able to replant them next year.