Begonia is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the Begoniaceae family. The plant is native to South Africa, Asia, and South and Central America. The first introduction of the flower was in 1777 in England. There are 1,795 species of begonias that exist today from all over the world. While they have showy and large flowers, in the case of most species, they are more popular for their foliage.
In the case of most varieties, the color of the flower will be pink, yellow, white, or scarlet. Its flowers have sepals that look like petals. The fruit, on the other hand, is dry and splits into a capsule to release its seeds. The plant has alternate leaf arrangement.
Among the types of begonias that are available, Rex Begonias are some of the most popular, which is also the showiest. It is rhizomatous and perfect for indoor gardens. Rhizomatous begonias are easy to maintain and popular for their foliage more than their flowers. There are also fibrous-rooted begonias, which include dragon-wing and cane-like begonias. They are common outdoor varieties, but they are also usually transferred indoors during frost to protect them from the extreme cold.
Planting and Growing Conditions
To start with, you have to decide on how to grow the begonias. There are two options. The first one is to grow it from seeds and the second one is to grow it from bulb or tuber. Growing from seeds will require more patience and the plant tends to be quite smaller. If you want large and sturdy plants, growing from a bulb is the best option.
Prepare your pot and soil. Make sure to use a clean pot. If the pot has already been used for an old plant, make sure to clean it with soap to disinfect, providing you with the assurance that no bacteria will survive and transfer to the new plant. The pot should also have a drain for water to pass through and to not accumulate. For the planting medium, on the other hand, a good choice is a combination of perlite, peat moss, and potting soil. Now, spread the seeds on the top of the soil or plant the bulb.
Once the soil is ready in the pot, the next critical consideration would be its location. Place it on the windowsill to be sure that it will receive bright light, but not direct heat. You can also use artificial light. In the case of the latter, position the light about six to 12 inches on the top of the plant. In most varieties, the light needs to be on for 12 to 14 hours.
Meanwhile, when it comes to temperature, begonias prefer a warm temperature. As much as possible, the daytime temperature should be anywhere from 65 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, on the other hand, it should be 55 degrees Fahrenheit. More than the temperature, begonias also need humidity. You can either mist the top of the plant or put the pot on the top of the pebble tray. This will make it easier for the plant to cope up with the fluctuations in the external environment.
Pests and Diseases
When growing begonias, pay attention to some of the most common diseases that can affect the vigor of the plant, such as bacterial leaf-spot, botrytis blight, Pythium rot, and fungal rot. It can also be prone to casual pathogens and viruses, which can easily transfer to the plant from using gardening equipment with an existing infection. Meanwhile, for the pests, some that you have to look for include earwigs, caterpillars, and eelworms, among others.
Care and Maintenance
One of the best things about begonias is that they are not demanding in terms of care and maintenance. To ensure their healthy growth, the following are some of the most important things you need to keep in mind:
- It is important to keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid being soggy as this will make it more prone to root rot and other common diseases. If there is a drainage tray underneath the pot, empty it right after watering so that the bottom of the pot will not remain wet.
- Watering washes away the nutrients that are essential for the survival of begonias. You can easily replace it with the use of the right fertilizers. You can use fish emulsion or a liquid fertilizer, which needs to be applied more during the growing stages of the plant. Refer to the directions from the manufacturer and avoid over-fertilizing as this can cause too much foliage growth.
- There will come a time that the plant will outgrow the size of the container. This is an indication that it is time for re-potting. Ideally, you should do so in the winter. Be careful when handling the roots and re-pot it in a larger container with a rich soil.
- Trimming is also necessary. You can do this by pinching the stem. This is a good way to control the growth of the plant, making sure that it will be compact and not bushy.
- Regular grooming is also essential. If you see dead flowers and leaves, cut them out immediately before the infection can spread to the healthy parts of the plant.
In sum, growing begonias indoors is not an impossible task, even for someone who is not adept in gardening. With moist soil, bright light, and humid environment, among others, you will have the assurance that your begonia will grow healthy and will withstand stress from external factors.