Begoniaceae includes 2 genera of perennial herbs, shrubs, and climbers from the tropics. Flowers are unisexual, with male anf female flowers usually on the same plant or occasionally on different plants. Leaves are simple, often lobed. Leaves and stems are fleshy. Though often described as preferring neutral to slightly acid pH, many species grow quite vigorously in alkaline soils with a thick bed of mulch.
Begonia includes 900-1000 species of fleshy herbs, shrubs, and climbers, which are widely distributed in the tropics. Cool – growing types from the Andes are seasonally dormant. Begonias have been hybridized for centuries and their ancestry is usually obscure. Male flowers have 2-6 unequal tepals and a cluster of bright yellow staments. Female flowers have 2-5 equal tepals attached to an often 3 winged, inferior ovary. Flowers range from small to showy, usually in shades of pink, red – orange, or white. Inflorescences may be borne on long or short stalks. Some species are delicately scented.
Fanciers group begonias horticulturally by type of growth and habit, though hybrids often exhibit a combination of these traits. In containers, begonias are grown in African – violet mix with added sand for good drainage. Use dilute liquid or slow – release fertilizers, in general, begonias like regular moisture and humidity, bright, slightly filtered light, and good air movement. Rhizomatous types are fairly tolerant of seasonal dry spells and chills, though leaves may die back or brown. Propagated from rhizome and leaf cuttings or division. Outdoors begonias usually thrive in understory locations, though a few will take fun sun.
Garden hybrids. Perennial rhizomatous herbs, 1-6 ft, zones 10-11. Bloom variously depending on ancestry. Even moisture, humidity, drier when cool. Fertile, humusrich, well – drained soil. Bright filtered light. Flowers: usually unisexual, in shades of pink or white. Leaves: suborbicular to obliquely ovate, often with zones of dark red. pink, and green, green and colored veins, often covered with glistening scales and/ or hairs, margins sometimes fringed. Stems: often covered with hairs. begonia xdiurna is an old French, fibrousrooted hybrid of B. coccinea with canelike stems. It thrives outdoors. The tops are killed back by frost but the plants recover if rhizomes are protected from freezing”Merry Christmas’is a rex/anged -wing type with unusually large flowers “Mirage” is a spreading rhizomatous type with leaves silver – scaled above and maroon below, and small white flowers. The latter two are suitable for pots and baskets.
Lotus – leafed begonia, lily – pad begonia
Southern Mexico to Colombia. Perennial rhizomatous herb to 3 ft, zones 10-11. Blooms late winter, spring. Moderate moisture. Fertile, sandy, humus – rich, well – drained soil. Full to part sun, bright filtered light. Flowers: unisexual, white, sparkling, in many – flowered cymes. Leaves: suborbicular, to 18 in. wide or more, petiole long, with long hairs, attached to the bottom of the blade, margins serrulate. A large begonia suitable for outdoor landscaping. It tolerates full sun with adequate moisture. The species name alludes to the lotuslike leaf. The rubra form has crinkled leaves with reddish veins.