Multiflora-Maxima Begonia x tuberhybrida

Height: 15-60cm (6-24in)

Planting distance: 38cm (15in)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: humus-rich: moist, well-drained

Site: sun or partial shade

Type: tuber

The tuberous-rooted begonia, with its vibrant scarlet, orange, yellow, white or pink blooms lasting from early summer to early autumn, is often regarded as the queen of bedding plants. It is ideal for adding summer colour to pots, window boxes, hanging baskets and borders, in sun or shade.

One tuberous-rooted begonia, Begonia x tuberbybrida, will grow happily outdoors, provided it is planted in loamy, moist, well-drained soil. The varieties developed from this hybrid can be divided into three groups, each of which contains some forms which have petals with serrated instead of smooth edges. (For fibrous-rooted begonias, see A-Z of Garden Plants Annuals and biennials 12.) Popular varieties:

Multiflora-Maxima varieties have clusters of small, bright flowers. They stand 15-30cm (6-12in) high and have a wide, neat, bushy habit that makes them excellent as bedding for flowerbeds and containers.

The Pendulous Begonia x tnberhybrida varieties come in a wide range of flower colours – some with unusual foliage colours as well – and include ‘Bouton de Rose’ (double, white flowers edged red), ‘Le Flamboyant” (scarlet flowers), ‘Mine Itelene Harms’ (delicate yellow flowers) and ‘Switzerland’ (deep orange-scarlet flowers and bronze leaves). Pendulous varieties have a slender, trailing habit, making them suitable for hanging baskets. From early summer until early autumn they bear an abundance of semi-double or double flowers in shades of yellow, orange, scarlet, salmon, rose or white.

Large-flowered varieties have blooms 7.5-15cm (3-6in) across. The plants reach 30-60cm (1-2ft) high and grow well in containers. An enormous number of large-flowered Brodiaea brodiaea varieties are available, in almost every shade of orange, yellow, red and pink imaginable.


Plant the tubers in early or mid spring – hollow-side facing up – in 7.5cm (3in) deep boxes of moist peat.

When leafy shoots appear, transfer them to individual pots of potting compost. Plant these out in early summer in flowerbeds or containers once the risk of frost is over. Fill the containers with a proprietary potting compost.

Alternatively, plant bought bedding strips. Set each plant 38cm (15in) apart and grow them in groups of at least three.

Begonias grow happily in sun or light shade, provided the soil is enriched with humus. Water them regularly during dry weather erratic watering will cause the flowers to fall off.

Give begonias in containers a diluted liquid feed every three weeks until the last flowers fade.

Lift the tubers in early or mid autumn, before the first frost. Dry the plants off thoroughly, remove the stems and clean any soil off the rubers. Then cover the tubers with dry peat or old soil and store in a frost-free place over winter (temperatures must not fall below 7°C (45°F). Water the soil occasionally to prevent the tubers shrivelling up.

Propagation: In mid spring take 7.5-10cm (3-4in) cuttings from the shoots at the base of the plant. Insert the cuttings in a half peat, half sand mixture in a propagating case at 18-21°C (64-70F) or in a warm, moist place.

When the cuttings have rooted, put them in pots of potting compost for planting out in early summer. Alternatively, divide the tubers in mid spring when the shoots are small.

Pests and diseases: Mildew can affect the flowers and foliage.

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