Begonias are excellent plants to keep color in the garden. They are also wonderful to put in baskets to hang around the house to provide a cozy pop of cheer. Even their foliage is often a pleasure to look at, with leaves that are often in two colors and shaped like wings.
But while begonias are easy to keep alive, they can be brats about flowering. What to do?
If a begonia is not flowering, you need to check that it has soil that drains well. Begonias need plenty of water, but the soil must not be boggy. Begonias need some shade, especially during the middle of the day. To keep them blooming, they also need a small, steady boost of fertilizer.
Begonias will flower throughout the year in the right conditions. Many of their over 1,500 varieties handle high heat. However, they don’t like the cold, being originally from the tropics.
Thus, if you live in an area of frost or snow, you’ll need to bring them indoors for winter. But as easy as they are to keep alive, they can be very fickle about blooming.
How to Get Begonias to Bloom
Begonias are sought out for their ability to bloom no matter the season. They come with a vast array of varieties, blooming in different colors and flower shapes.
The tropical and sub-tropical plants can look range from looking like a daffodil to imitating a rose. They have so many fans there is even an American Begonia Society.
But while they are hard to kill and much beloved, they’ll be stingy about flowering unless four main conditions are met: soil, location, water, and nutrition.
The Right Soil
No matter where you plant a begonia, be it a pot, hanging basket, or into your flowerbeds, begonias require the right type of soil. Begonias need nutritious well-draining soil that isn’t dry.
Despite their tropical origins, they do not handle boggy wet soil at all. However, they do love water, so dry soil will also make them pout.
Thus, potting soil is advised to be mixed into wherever they are planted, even in flowerbeds, to ensure quality draining. Compost is also vital, as begonias will not bloom when they lack nutrition. Just make sure that compost is well mixed, so it doesn’t create boggy patches in your pot or flowerbed.
The Right Position
Begonias thrive in the heat and can even handle direct sunlight. But they do require some shade, especially in the middle of the day.
Thus, if you want your begonia to bloom, it must have some sunlight either at the start or the end of the day and be shaded during the middle. Direct mid-day sunlight stresses begonias out. Stressed begonias are reluctant to flower.
The majority of begonias thrive in temperatures of 65 – 72 F (18.3 – 22 C). However, as we’ve mentioned, there are many varieties of begonias.
Thus, there is probably a begonia out there that is perfect for your conditions. Some handled higher heat and more sunlight than the rest. So when buying begonias, read their care label and plant accordingly.
The Right Amount Of Water
Begonias love water. They don’t want to sit in it, hence the need for well-draining soil. But they love the wet stuff and will be stressed if they don’t have enough. They tend to do best if they are watered in the early part of the day.
First, check their soil. You can do this by using your finger or gently poking a chopstick into the soil. If the soil is dry an inch (2.5 cm) down into the pot or flowerbed, it is time to water.
A potted begonia will typically require daily watering. However, if you are in a humid area, they might only require watering every other day.
Flowerbeds with begonias will typically require about an inch (2.5 cm) of water a week. However, this will depend on your climate and soil’s drainage.
The Right Nutrition
Begonias, unlike toddlers, love their veggies. Okay, it is actually fertilizer, compost, or plant food. However, too much nutrition all at once will produce a huge plant that doesn’t bloom. Thus, you need to be giving begonias their fertilizer in the correct dosage.
Ideally, your potted begonias should have a light amount of fertilizer given to them every 10 days to two weeks. However, begonias planted into the ground will only require it every 3 – 4 weeks.
Again, a light hand must be used when it comes to begonias and nutrition. You want enough that it flowers in delight. But too much and it will put all its energy into making itself bigger, from root to leaf.
3 Types of Evergreen Begonia
While there are well over a thousand varieties of begonias, there are three main types of evergreen: cane, rhizomatous, and shrub. Not every kind blooms year-round, but these can, under certain conditions. However, some are loved for reasons aside from their flowers.
What Are Cane Begonias?
Cane begonias are commonly referred to as “angel wings.” They are categorized as cane due to the bamboo-like joints they have on their stems. In the right conditions, these begonias can reach over 5 feet tall (1.52 meters).
Cane begonias don’t like the wind, require an abundance of light, but only some direct sunlight. They generally bloom between spring and fall, but there are those that will flower all year.
What Are Rhizomatous Begonias?
As the name suggests, rhizomatous begonias begin life from rhizomes. Most people grow these for their gorgeous leaves rather than their flowers. This isn’t to say they don’t flower, they do, and some are fairly pretty, but it is their glorious foliage that steals the show.
What Are Shrub Begonias?
Unlike their cane cousins, shrub begonias have soft stems and are bushy, hence the name “shrub.” Shrub begonias can exceed the cane in height, reaching up to 8 feet (2.4 m). However, some shrub varieties can be potted or put in a hanging basket.
Do Any Begonias Handle Snow?
No, there are not any begonia varieties that like snow or even frost. If you live in an area that drops below 55 F (12.7 C), it is best to keep them in pots and baskets that can be moved indoors for winter.
Otherwise, it is best to treat them as an annual and not to plant any outdoors until the last frost has passed.
So remember, if your begonia is not flower, check the following: soil, location, water, and nutrition. Also, with so many varieties of begonia available, learn what kind you own so you can meet their specific care needs. Lastly, take your begonia indoors when the days begin to get chilly.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.