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Begonia Planting Guide

Begonias have been favored for shade gardens for years and the large-flowered tuberous varieties represent royal blood. These have much bigger blooms and greater plant strength than the seed-grown types, which tend to be small, fragile and often a bit fussy looking. Like true queens, tuberous begonias aren't inclined to relinquish their throne after a single season. These tubers are easy to lift and store for many years of magnificent displays. We know a woman who has been growing the same begonia tubers for almost 10 years.
Ever wanted to rub elbows with royalty? Here's your chance.
Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2"-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. While begonias prefer a slightly moist soil, they wiill not survive in soggy soil.
  2. Site your begonias where they will receive partial shade. The hotter your growing region, the more shade they prefer.
  3. Loosen the soil a bit and plant your begonia tubers by just tucking them into the soil without covering them. Plant the tubers 8"-12" apart with the indented side facing up. This is the side on which leaf sprouts will form.
  4. After planting, water your begonias generously to settle the soil around the tubers. Roots and sprouts will form in a few weeks, depending on soils and air temperature. (If temperatures are still quite cool in your area, wait until they warm before planting. Or start your tubers indoors in a pot for earlier blooms.)
  5. Water your begonia enough to keep the soil very slightly damp but never enough for it to be soggy.
  6. When your begonias flower, feel free to pinch off a few blooms to float in a bowl of water for indoor enjoyment. If you want to include foliage, cut sparingly as these leaves are needed to nourish the bulb for next year's show.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place, don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed. Leaves and stalks may be removed when they yellow. (If you live in an area where your begonias aren't winter hardy, dig the tubers before the first frost, dry for a few days and then store in a cool place in paper bags or cardboard boxes filled with peat moss.)
  8. Your begonias will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.


Planters, Pots, Tubs, Urns, Hanging Baskets and Windowboxes
  1. Fill your containers with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes; begonia tubers must never sit in waterlogged soil or they will rot. Keep in mind the mature size of the varieties you have chosen and plan your container sizes accordingly.
  2. Site your begonias where they will receive partial shade. The hotter your growing region, the more shade they prefer.
  3. Loosen the soil a bit and plant your begonia tubers by just tucking them into the soil without covering them. Plant the tubers 3"-5" apart with the indented side facing up. This is the side on which leaf sprouts will form.
  4. After planting, water your begonias generously just to settle the soil around the tubers. Roots and sprouts will form in a few weeks, depending on soils and air temperature. (If temperatures are still quite cool in your area, wait until they warm before planting. Or start your tubers indoors in a pot for earlier blooms.)
  5. Water your begonia enough to keep the soil very slightly damp but never enough for it to be soggy.
  6. When your begonias flower, feel free to pinch off a few blooms to float in a bowl of water for indoor enjoyment. If you want to include foliage, cut sparingly as these leaves are needed to nourish the bulb for next year's show.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place, don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed. Leaves and stalks may be removed when they yellow. (If you live in an area where your begonias aren't winter hardy, dig the tubers before the first frost, dry for a few days and then store in a cool place in paper bags or cardboard boxes filled with peat moss.)
  8. Your begonias will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.