Begonia begonia

Height: 15-30cm (6-12in)

Planting distance: 20-25cm (8-10in)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: rich: moist, well-drained

Site: sun or partial shade

There are now two recognised types of begonia for summer bedding and container growing: Fibrous-rooted begonia (begonia semperflorens) and its varieties are grown as annuals. The plants, which generally reach 15-30cm (6-12in) high, are smothered with small, red, pink or white flowers from early summer to early autumn. In autumn, take them indoors as winter pot plants – flowering will continue il the room is well lit.

Tuberous-rooted begonias are large-flowered types, traditionally grown from tubers. Increasingly, however, they are grown from seed.

Popular varieties:

FIBROUS-ROOTED ‘Ambassador’, an F1 hybrid, comes in a good range of colours and is very early flowering from seed.

‘Cocktail’, an F1 hybrid, has white, pink, rose, salmon and red flowers and contrasting deep bronze foliage.

‘Coco Mixed’, an F1 hybrid, comes in mixed colours and has bronze foliage.

‘Devon Gems’, an F1 hybrid, has red, pink and white flowers with glossy, chocolate-brown, bronze or green leaves.

‘Frilly Dilly’, an F1 hybrid, has green foliage and scarlet and pink flowers with frilled petals.

‘Organdy’, an F1 hybrid, comes in a wide range of flower colours and has green or bronze foliage. The plants are very compact.

‘Party Fun’, an F1 hybrid, has pink, scarlet, rose and white blooms and green or bronze foliage. It is a tall variety, reaching 30cm (1 ft).

‘Thousand Wonders Red’, an F1 hybrid, has cerise-scarlet flowers and light green leaves.

‘Thousand Wonders Rose’, an F1 hybrid, has deep rose flowers and light green foliage.

‘Thousand Wonders White’, an F1 hybrid, has white flowers and light green leaves.

Begonia semperflorcns ‘Devon Gems’ ‘Viva’, an F1 hybrid, has pure white blooms and dark green leaves.

TUBEROUS-ROOTED ‘Chanson’, an F1 hybrid with a pendulous habit, bears large, semi-double flowers in many colours. It is ideal for tubs and baskets.

‘Non Stop’, an F1 hybrid mixture, bears large, double flowers in a host of bright colours. (For other begonias grown from tubers, see A-Z of Garden Plants Bulbs, conns and tubers.)

Cultivation

Sow seeds in trays of seed compost in late winter to early spring under glass at 16-18°C (61-64°F). Do not cover the seed as it needs light to assist germination.

Transplant seedlings into boxes of potting compost when the first true leaf appears.

Harden off and then plant out in late spring, spaced 20-25cm (8-10in) apart, in rich, moist but well-drained soil, in sun or light shade.

Pests and diseases: Mildew appears as a white coating on leaves and stems.

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