Originating in tropical and subtropical areas, begonia plants are prized for their asymmetrical, variegated or patterned foliage which, along with their large blooms, adds color and interest to shady areas of the garden. Thriving in flower beds, planters, hanging baskets and window boxes, these attractive specimens can also be grown indoors as office or house plants.
In addition to the attractive foliage, the flower of the begonia also provides long lasting, colorful interest. Coming in a range of shapes and colors, the flowers sit on surprisingly sturdy stems meaning that even the largest varieties rarely require artificial support.
Despite being one of the smaller flowers in the garden, these tender perennials are guaranteed to make an impact. A low maintenance, reliable plant, many types of begonias are just as happy in full sun as they are in partial sun or shade positions. It is this reliability which has helped to make the begonia such a popular bedding plant.
If you want to learn more about the different types of begonias, including where they are best planted and how to care for them, this article is for you. As well as highlighting 12 different types of begonias we will also provide you with useful care and maintenance tips, meaning that your flowers will flourish throughout the summer months.
These are attractive, long lasting plants.
1 Wax Begonia
The first of the types of begonias on our list, the Wax begonia is also one of the most attractive specimens.
A compact, bushy plant, the Wax begonia has a thick, succulent stem and masses of shiny, rough green or red brown leaves. This attractive foliage continues to provide interest long after the flowers have faded. Known for their mounded growth habit, the flowers, which can be single or double, are typically 1 to 1.5 inches wide.
Depending on the cultivar the plant can flower in attractive shades of white, pink or red. While smaller in size, the petals of the Wax begonia flowers are similar in shape to those of the rose. The same species as the Single Flowering begonia, the Wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens), also known as the Double begonia or Bedding begonia, has a double set of flower petals giving them a showier appearance.
The Wax begonia is a great, low growing choice for most situations. Reaching 6 to 18 inches in both height and spread, the plants typically flower from early summer until the first frosts of the year. Most Wax begonia cultivars thrive as perennials in USDA Zones 10 and 11. In cooler climates they can be grown as long lasting annuals. These plants are also one of the most colorful houseplants that you can grow.
Big Red Green Leaf and Big Rose Bronze Leaf are both large flowering reliable cultivars. Other popular Wax begonia varieties include:
- Chicago Fire,
- Houston Fiesta,
Wax, Annual or Bedding begonia plants are the most common of the Begonia semperflorens varieties. Typically grown as annuals they reach 6 to 12 inches in height and spread. Thriving in partial shade, the plant’s upright growth habit makes it ideal for both container planting and flower bed.
The begonia is prized for its attractive foliage and colorful flowers.
2 Fimbriata Begonia
A showy twist on classic types of begonias, the Fimbriata begonia produces large, showy carnation-like flowers with attractive ruffled or fringed petals. Coming in a range of vibrant colors, including bright yellows, pinks, whites, oranges and reds, the Fimbriata begonia is a great choice for mass planting schemes. They are also a good choice for edging paths and patios.
Fimbriata begonia flowers typically emerge in early July and last until the first frosts of the year. These large flowers sit on sturdy stems above masses of rich foliage. Typically, the Fimbriata begonia reaches just under 10 inches in height.
Despite their showy appearance Fimbriata types of begonias are pleasingly easy to care for. Correctly cared for, the bulbs are also long lasting. As with dahlia tubers, growers in USDA Zones 9 and cooler will need to lift the bulbs in the fall and store them overwinter before replanting the following spring.
Mixed collections of tubers are particularly attractive. Reliable cultivars include:
- Ruffled Red,
- Ruffled Yellow,
- Fimbriata Salmon,
- FImbriata Copper.
Coming in a range of colors, some varieties produce showy blooms.
3 Trailing Begonia
Also known as the Hanging or Creeping begonia, like many other types of begonias, Trailing begonia plants provide large, long lasting, colorful flowers. This cultivars’ cascading growth habit makes them ideal for hanging baskets, planters and window boxes. In warmer climates, or if planted indoors, Trailing begonia plants can add year round interest and color. Their spreading nature also makes them a good choice for floral, summer ground cover.
Double flowering types provide big, showy blooms, while single flowering cultivars are more elegant or understated. Depending on the variety you are growing the plants can achieve a spread of 11 to 23 inches. Best planted in well draining soil, most varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 10 and warmer.
Bonfire is a particularly attractive trailing variety producing masses of orange flowers and rich green foliage. The Cascade series, including Cascade Pink, Cascade White and Cascade Red are prized for their large, double blooms. Other popular cultivars include:
- Pendula White,
Trailing types of begonias are particularly effective when allowed to spill over the edges of pots and hanging baskets.
4 Picotee and Double Picotee Begonia
Picotees are popular for their large, ruffled flowers. Similar to roses, some cultivars produce eye-catching two-toned blooms. Double Picotee types are particularly showy and attractive.
Known for their elegant, upright growth habit, Picotees can be particularly effective when planted in combination with single colored begonia plants or other summer flowers. Best planted in cool, shady areas they may struggle if planted in full sun. Watering regularly and mulching the soil helps to keep the roots cool and can encourage flowering to continue despite the heat.
Like other types of begonias these are tender perennials. This means that if you are growing in cooler climates and want the flowers to return year after year you will need to protect or lift the tubers each fall.
The Giant series produces particularly large eye-catching flowers. Other reliable cultivars include:
- Picotee White-Pink,
Picotees are prized for their large, open colorful blooms.
5 Tuberous Begonia
Tuberous types of begonias are popular for their long lasting, colorful blooms. Tender perennials, tuberous cultivars produce male and female flowers on the same plant. Male flowers are often more showy than female blooms.
Ideal for container gardens, planters and window boxes, depending on the variety, Tuberous begonia plants can have either an upright or trailing growth habit. In terms of appearance tuberous types of begonias offer a lot of interest. The foliage can be green or burgundy while the flowers can be white, pink, yellow, red or orange. While single flowering varieties are pleasing, double or ruffled varieties are often showier.
Tuberous begonia plants are prized for their colorful showy flowers. Depending on the cultivar the plant can achieve a height and spread of 12 to 18 inches as a container or houseplant. Large types, grown outside can reach upto 3 ft. Best planted in partial sun, these types of begonias require sunlight to flower. They also do best in well draining soil.
One of the most cold sensitive types of begonias, tuberous plants are best grown in USDA Zones 9 and warmer. Like other varieties, in cooler climates Tuberous types can be cultivated in pots either indoors or outside and moved inside before the first frosts of the year. Tuberous types of begonias rarely survive a frost, so make sure that you move the plants or lift them before the cold temperatures set in.
While usually categorized as separate varieties, many of the types of begonias on our list, such as Picotees, actually belong to the tuberous begonia group. Other popular varieties include:
- Prima Donna,
- Nonstop Mocca Cherry Begonia,
- Pink Balcony.
Tuberous begonia plants are popular for their large, colorful flowers.
6 Non-stop Begonias
One of the most compact types of begonias, Non-stops have a vigorous growth and flowering habit. Ideal for planters and pots, these plants are available in a range of bright, clear colors.
Often grown from seed, Non-stops are fast growing. In fact flowering can sometimes occur in the same season as sowing the seeds. As Non-stop begonia plants grow they develop a tuber. Like other varieties, this can be lifted and stored in the fall before repainting the following spring. Specimens growing in pots can simply be moved to a sunny windowsill or greenhouse.
Happiest in well draining soil in a shady position, if planted away from the heat of the midday sun Non-stop begonia plants flower throughout the summer. Non-stops are often sold in mixed collections, enabling you to enjoy a range of colors. However, you can also buy individual plants which flower in shades of red, salmon, white and yellow. Most varieties have a mature height and spread of around 12 inches.
Varieties with a profuse flowering habit add long lasting interest to the summer garden.
7 Rex Begonia
One of the most visually attractive types of begonias, the Rex begonia is known for its colorful, patterned leaves. Usually at least 6 inches in length, the foliage provides lasting interest long after the small flowers have faded. Depending on the variety the foliage of the Rex begonia can be purple, red, green or silver.
Best planted in well draining soil away from direct sunlight, the Rex begonia plant does best in warm, humid air. In fact the plant’s multi-colored leaves are at their best in humid positions. Regular watering also helps the plants to thrive. If you are growing your Rex begonia as a houseplant, placing under fluorescent or grow lights can also help to improve flowering and leaf color.
A subgroup of the Rhizomatous types of begonias, like other varieties, the Rex begonia struggles when temperatures start to fall, often becoming dormant. A popular choice for a houseplant most varieties reach between 12 and 18 inches in height and spread. For more information on caring for a Rex begonia plant, check out our growing and care guide.
The main variety of Rex begonia is Platy Centrum rex. Other popular varieties include:
- Snow Queen,
- Cowardly Lion,
- River Nile.
A reliable cultivar, the Rex begonia is commonly sold throughout the year in garden stores and plant nurseries.
The foliage of the Rex begonia provides long lasting interest.
8 Rieger Begonia
One of the showiest types of begonias, the Rieger begonia is popular for its attractive creamy buds, which open to reveal yellow, red, white or pink flowers. Also known as the Flowering begonia this is one of the quickest growing types of begonias. Usually bred to flower throughout the winter months, with a little careful care the plants can be kept and encouraged to flower year after year.
Originally developed as a cross between a Wax and Tuberous begonia, the Rieger has since evolved into its own, distinct variety. The plants are best placed in partial sun, where the temperatures average between 60 and 70 ℉ during both the day and night. Bred for winter displays, Rieger begonia plants require cool temperatures and short days to flower. A Thermometer is a great way to keep an eye on temperatures.
The Rieger is a pleasingly long lasting specimen. Once flowers emerge they can last for around 6 months in favorable conditions. If you are growing the Reiger as a houseplant, keep it away from any direct light.
Rieger begonia plants are commonly found in garden centers and plant nurseries during late winter and early spring.
Showy open blooms can add color during the winter months.
9 Dragon Wing Begonia
Commonly grown as a houseplant, Dragon Wing types of begonias are easily identified by their bright red flowers. If planted outside these draw hummingbirds to the garden.
Flowering from late spring or early summer onwards, as well as bright red flowers, you can also find white and pink flowering varieties. Reaching up to 2 ft, and spreading just as wide, these are warm weather loving plants.
Ideal for hanging baskets thanks to their clusters of hanging flowers, when planted in pots Dragon Wings can be cut back in the fall, once flowering has finished and placed inside, in a light position. The Dragon Wing is a good choice for a low maintenance houseplant because it is less fussy about humidity levels than the Rex begonia.
The flowers of some varieties drape elegantly down from amongst the foliage.
10 Multiflora Begonia
A cultivar of the Tuberous begonia, these types of begonias are ideal for baskets and containers. As the name suggests, when planted in a favorable position, they produce masses of flowers in a range of shades, from salmon and pink to rich rose red, pale apricot and bright yellow.
Best planted in well draining soil and in a partial sun position, when watering try to keep the foliage as dry as possible. This helps to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew
Popular Multiflora varieties include:
- Floribunda carriere,
- Tittelbachia fuchsiodes,
- Tittelbachia miniata,
Heavy flowering varieties are particularly attractive.
11 Cane Begonia
Cane Begonia plants are identified by the bamboo-like joints on their stems. From these joints flowers, in clusters of orange, red, pink and white, emerge. Like other types of begonias, the foliage is also of interest. The Angel Wing cultivar is particularly attractive thanks to its dark green leaves with a red underside. The foliage is often spotted or streaked.
Best planted in a light position, a regular dose of fertilizer and deadheading spent blooms helps to prolong the flowering period. Known for their segmented stems and upright growth habit, Canes are one of the tallest types of begonias. If planted in a warm climate, these types of begonias can reach between 2 and 6 ft in height. In the warmest areas the plants can develop masses of pleasing, shrubby growth. If grown as a houseplant, the Cane begonia is more compact, reaching between 6 and 12 inches in height and spread.
Common varieties include
- Looking Glass,
- Cracklin’ Rosie,
12 Rhizomatous Begonia
Rhizomatous types of begonias are easily identified by foliage, which has a fuzzy texture. The leaves can be green or red in color. Showy varieties can also be dappled with white spots. The flowers are typically pink, yellow or purple.
Herbaceous perennials in USDA Zones 10 to 12, Rhizomatous begonia plants are best planted in well draining, rich soil in indirect sunlight. The largest of all the different types of begonias, the Rhizomatous begonia is identified by its thick stems or rhizomes that grow close to the soil surface. From these horizontal stems, new roots and leaves emerge. While the foliage is large, the largest types can produce leaves that are 3 ft long, and can provide long lasting interest, the flowers of the Rhizomatous begonia are not as attractive as those of the Tuberous begonia.
Bellagio, which flowers in shades of Pink, Apricot and Blush is one of the most reliable types of Rhizomatous begonia. The plants trailing habit makes it particularly effective in pots, baskets and planters. Other common Rhizomatous begonia varieties include:
- Iron Cross,
Mulching the soil around the plants helps to keep them cool and productive.
Begonia Growing and Planting Tips
The following tips are applicable to all types of begonias. However you should always do your own research when selecting a plant.
Warm weather perennials, most types of begonias are hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11. They can also be grown indoors or as annuals.
The size and spread varies depending on the types of begonias that you are growing. Smaller varieties can be 6 to 12 inches tall, while large, bushy plants can exceed 5 ft.
The begonia is best planted in shade or partial shade positions. In cooler climates you can also plant some types of begonias in full sun. Just make sure that the soil around the plants is kept cool and the plants are protected from the intense heat of the midday sun. A Vensovo Shade Cloth is a great, light way to protect delicate plants from the heat of the sun.
Most types of begonias flower from early summer until the first frosts of the year. If you are growing indoors, flowering time may vary. Some types of begonias can also be encouraged to flower throughout the year.
Be careful when planting, while these plants aren’t toxic to humans the plants can cause an allergic reaction. Wear gloves when handling and planting. The tubers in particular can also be poisonous to dogs and cats, especially if consumed.
Plant in well draining soil once all threat of frost has passed and the soil has started to warm up. If you are planting transplants, remember to harden the plants off before transplanting. The ideal planting position is one that enjoys either partial shade or filtered sunlight.
Begonia plants favor well draining soil and partial shade positions.
In full sun positions plant dark-leaved varieties or specimens such as Surefire Rose, that have been bred for their tolerance to the sun. Space the plants out correctly to ensure good air circulation. This helps to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew from forming.
Tuberous types of begonias tend to die back naturally each year. To encourage this, in late summer start to decrease the water you give the plants and trim away the foliage as it yellows. Dig up the tubers at the first sign of frost. Clean and dry the tubers before storing over winter.
Rhizomatous and Wax types of begonias don’t die back. If you are growing as perennials, pinch out or lightly prune the plants once a year to encourage full, compact growth. In warmer areas this is best done in the spring. In cooler areas this tidying up can be part of the clean up process before you take the plants inside for overwintering. This is also a good time to check your plants for signs of disease or infestation.
Acclimatize plants to their new position by initially placing them in a bright position and gradually decreasing the amount of light that they receive. This helps to prevent stress which can cause leaf drop. As spring temperatures warm, gradually harden off or acclimatize the plants to their outside position.
Begonia plants do best in well draining soil enriched with fresh, organic matter such as homemade compost.
Water your begonia plants regularly during dry spells. Don’t allow the soil to dry out. Be careful not to over water the plants or get the foliage too wet. This can cause fungal diseases such as powdery mildew to form. To encourage flowering, fertilize with a liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season.
Begonia Houseplant Care
If you are growing a begonia as a houseplant, water the plant regularly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Many types of begonias thrive in areas of high humidity. Humidity levels can be artificially raised by placing the plants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Purpose-built humidity trays, such as the Humidi-Grow Humidity Tray can also be used.
Avoid placing your houseplants in direct light. This can burn the foliage. Finally, only repot your begonia if it is absolutely necessary. Most types of begonias like to be slightly root bound.
Both the flowers and the foliage of the begonia provide interest.
Many types of begonias are great for a range of different planting designs. While Trailing begonias look great in hanging baskets or spilling over the edges of window boxes and pots, Wax begonias are great in mixed flower beds. Tall, upright varieties can be used to introduce height and a focal point to flower beds. Easy to care for, in the right position most types of begonias are a great way to add color, interest and texture to a garden.
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Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.