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How to Grow and Enjoy Tuberous Begonias

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How to Grow and Enjoy Tuberous Begonias

Tropical color in bold flower form—tuberous begonias deliver the goods! These colorful flowers are dramatic, cheerful additions to a part-shade garden, and even better, are easy to grow. If you’re used to growing wax begonias but have never tried tuberous begonias, your begonia world is about to explode. In a good way, of course.

We’ve got all you need to know from plant features to design tips and storage guidelines.

Tuberous Begonia Characteristics

Full flowers in bold colors and with attractive foliage—while there’s a wide range of tuberous begonia styles and varieties, they all have those characteristics in common. Some grow upright and are ideal for containers and landscape beds, while others have a lovely cascading habit—perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes.

The flowers tend to produce strong, hot colors of red, pink, peach, orange, and yellow, but also pure white, making them a great choice for blending with a wide variety of other flowers and plants.

How to Grow Them

Tuberous begonias are a fairly undemanding bunch, but they do tend to show their displeasure if planted in hot, dry locations. If you live in an area where those conditions are common, you’ll simply need to look for a shaded spot in your garden and give these lovelies moist and rich soil. Just a little extra love for an amazing warm season show! For more tips on how to grow tuberous begonias, read our blog post here.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 8–11

Sun: Part Shade to Part Sun—morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal

Soil: Rich, moist and well-drained

Water: Consistent watering—do not let them completely dry out

Flowers: Single, double, compact, ruffled, rose form

Bloom Time: Early/mid-summer through early fall

Uses: Landscape beds, container plantings, hanging baskets, window boxes

What to Plant with Them

Because they are tropicals, tuberous begonias play well with all their other tropical friends with similar growing requirements—caladiums, cannas, alstroemeria, elephant ears, ferns, coleus, and colorful annuals like impatiens. Most of these plants like regular watering, filtered rather than hot, direct sun, and well-drained soil.

Because their flowers are bold yet not intricate, they are ideal for pairing with the fancy foliage of caladiums or the dramatic leaves of elephant ears. And because their shades are mostly sunset tones, they blend beautifully with opposite colors of purple and blue. If you need a little inspiration, here are some of our favorite planting ideas:

  • Container Plantings: Go with one type of begonia per container, or mix up several colors like red, yellow, and orange. Still not sure? Try one of our tuberous begonia collections—we pair a begonia variety with two other plants like this begonia-caladium-alstroemeria trio.
  • Landscape Beds: Underplant large elephant ears or cannas with tuberous begonias. The begonias’ height and growth habit will fill in those sometimes-empty spaces below. Or plant evergreen shrubs directly behind them—their bold color will stand out against that calm backdrop!
  • Mass Plantings: Tuberous begonias are a perfect choice for bordering a walkway, as their growth won’t take over but their blooms will blow you away. Choose one color for boldness, alternating colors for interest, or go all out and plant a variety of hues!

Design Tip: Because tuberous begonias come in so many colors, it’s tempting to pick one of each and plant them altogether in one bed. What makes a more pleasing planting, however, is to group them in 3’s or 5’s, and repeat colors or varieties in different areas of your bed or border.

Storing for the Winter

In cooler climates (Zones 4–7), you can regard tuberous begonias as annuals and simply replace them every year, or you can store them indoors and replant them in the spring. Dig up tubers before your first frost, or move your potted begonias to a protected location. If potted, stop watering them and let the above-soil plant die back on its own. Then gently dig them up and store them in peat moss in individual paper bags in a cool, dark space like a basement.

If you live in Zones 8–11, your job is even easier! Simply move potted tuberous begonias in late fall to a protected place where they’ll stay dry—keep them in their pots, stop watering, and replant them in the spring after danger of frost has passed. If they’re in the ground, you can dig them up, let them dry out, then store using the peat moss and bag method above.

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  • Katie Elzer-Peters