Plant Description

Begonia semperflorens

Begonia semperflorens cultivar in the garden of Julie Price in Sydney

This is the original species from Brazil that modern cultivars (called Begonia Semperflorens-cultorum Group) are derived from. They are often known as bedding or wax Begonia and are classified as annuals, but in frost-free Sydney gardens they will last several years. They are small plants growing 20-30 cm tall, with typical Begonia flowers, and rounded, fleshy leaves that may be green or bronze, or variegated in hues of cream or white. Flowers come in shades of pinks, white or red. They bloom over a long period in the Sydney climate - from mid-spring until late autumn, and in warm microclimates may flower all year. They look and do best when grown en masse.

Like other Begonia, they are valuable for shaded areas of the garden, although they also seem to cope with a sunny position. They tolerate dryness very well but are best if organic matter is incorporated into the soil and they are mulched to keep their roots cool. They may become leggy at the end of winter: they can be cut back hard in September. They do tend to self-seed but this can be an asset in a shaded border! They are excellent for containers: use a free-draining mix such as African violet potting mix. There are numerous named cultivars. They can be grown from cuttings. They can be subject to powdery mildew - it is best to make sure they have a good flow of air around then to minimise this. A spray of bicarb soda mixed with water can be tried to control any mildew that occurs. They can apparently be grown indoors - I haven't tried this myself.

In recent times, tall, vigorous hybrids of this species with another Begonia species have been developed, with a height of around 50 to 80 cm. The flowers and leaves are larger and they are not prone to powdery mildew. These plants are sold under various names, including the 'Big' series, with red, copper or pink flowers; some have bronze leaves. They are excellent for pots and will grow in sun or shade. Use an African violet potting mix if growing them in containers. They can be propagated from cuttings with two nodes.


Begonia semperflorens
Out now in my Sydney garden.
Flowers from October to May.
Plant Family: Begoniaceae

Sponsor messages