Here are 20 ways to use the super-sized Begonias from the Benary breeding programme in Germany. You’ll be amazed at how versatile this humble plant can be!
1. Plant Begonia BIG into your borders, just as you would traditional bedding. However, you’ll be pleased to know that you won’t need as many plants. The vast landscaping habit of BIG offers multi-branching and voluptuous growth. Create a weed-suppressing blanket in your borders! You’ll also find that the robust growth will keep the moisture locked into your soil too!
2. Use BIG as a ‘fill-in’ plant around your recently planted trees and shrubs, making the most of the space whilst it’s available. That’s much better than looking at bare soil, don’t you think??
3. They’re super easy to grow from seed! You can experience the full growing experience by grabbing a packet of BIG and sowing the dust-like seeds. Be very careful not to lose any, treat them like the gold-dust they are! Watching a seedling developed into a fully fledged plant is one of life’s great pleasures!
4. Press and dry the blooms to create wall art for your kitchen or lounge. Get arty with all 8 colours from the BIG range!
5. Re-purpose some old containers sitting around your garden with BIG. Make sure you don’t forget to add drainage, either drill a hole or add a layer of gravel. Let your imagination run wild- from wellies to wicker baskets!
6. Get the designer look by mixing your BIG up with architectural specimens such as grasses, ferns and sexy silver plants like Calocephalus. Begonia BIG grows in sun or shade, so finding a planting partner is super easy!
7. Forget about smaller proportioned Begonia semperflorens, they just don’t stand up to the practicality of BIG. Say goodbye to flimsy plants, which stand like awkward soldiers in your border. BIG is totally different, filling the space without any gaps!
8. Make your own bath bomb with the blooms of BIG. Mix them up with bath salts for a floral treat!
9. Go traditional with big, unashamed colour in your front garden. Hark back to Victorian times with vibrant pinks, reds and yellows. Plant in neat lines to create a tapestry.
10. Write to your local council tax and demand that they plant BIG in your public areas! It has so much impact, is low-maintenance and blooms for months on end! If it’s good enough for the Eiffel Tower, then it’s good enough for your local community centre!
11. Did you know that BIG can also masquerade as a cottage garden plant?? Plug a few into your mixed perennial border and you’ll love the effect! I find it looks fabulous alongside the blues of Nepeta and Lavender.
12. Go modern! At the other end of the scale, you could go contemporary, but pairing up BIG with some edgy and trendy plants. I placed it next to my Mangave plants, and it completely holds its own! Super swish!
13. Fix up a windowbox! It’s a crime that we don’t grow more, after all every house has a window! Plant the lovely red BIG to get the Balcon Geranium effect outside your property. I bet you’ll increase the value too!
14. Jazz up your summer salad! Until now, they only way to get colour into salads was tomatoes and radishes, but with the edible blooms of BIG, you can spritz up any green leafy mix! Blooms take lemony. Take out of pollen before serving, to remove bitterness. Decorate cakes with them too!
15. Feed your plants once and that’s it! There’s a whole wealth of new fertilisers in the marketplace. Look out for controlled fertiliser, which feeds your plants gradually, and is temperature dependant. There’s no risk of over-feeding, or indeed under-feeding! A feed will last the whole season.
16. Do you fancy a gin?? How about freezing some BIG blooms into ice cube trays! Pour the tonic, pour the gin, drop the cube in, call it a Pink Lady!
17. If you’ve got wide windowsills, BIG can also work as a houseplant. It’s happy on any sill, from sun through to shade! It’ll pretty much bloom all year round too.
18. BIG can also decorate cakes, and thanks to its lemon taste, it suits lemon drizzle cake the best!
19. If you’re feeling adventurous, how about trying BIG in your hanging baskets. It will take a leap of faith though, the tall 70cm plants will tumble down with their weight and give you the fullest basket you’ve ever seen!
20. Finally, BIG is the perfect gift! Why not grow a few from seed, and give them to a loved one. They’d suit Mothers Day and Easter gifting really well!
Flowering time: May to October
We hope you’ve been inspired to grow Begonia BIG in your outdoor (or indoor) space! Keep up to date with us here at the Mr Plant Geek website, as we’ll be running a Begonia of the Month promotion with Benary next spring.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.