Gardening for the first time can be daunting! Perhaps you’ve just bought your first home with a garden, or maybe you’re trying out balcony gardening – whatever your situation, you’re probably wondering where to start. There’s so much information out there, it’s easy to get confused. But when it comes to plants, just know that there’s one garden plant you really can’t go wrong with…begonia! This shade and drought tolerant plant isn’t tricky to care for, and can be planted in a range of locations and conditions.
Whether you’re trying gardening for the first time yourself, or you’re helping out a friend or family member who is new to the world of plants, read on (and make sure to browse my WTF Gardening articles to help you understand common gardening terms that you might not be familiar with).
Common garden begonia varieties to try
There are many different types of begonia: ones that can only be grown indoors, ones that are best suited to containers, and ones that thrive in a bed! Here are some common garden varieties to get to know:
Begonia boliviensis – it comes from (you guessed it) Bolivia, and it’s great for growing in baskets and pots thanks to its cascading mass of elongated blooms and unusual, arrow-shaped leaves.
Begonia x tuberhybrida (also known as tuberous begonias) – this variety includes upright and trailing begonias, and flowers can be single or double.
Begonia semperflorens (also known as annual, wax or bedding begonias) – these are versatile plants that suit a huge range of planting styles!
What makes begonia care so easy
Care and maintenance for begonias vary slightly from species to species, but generally, garden variety begonias are easy to care for thanks to the following characteristics:
- Light requirements – Begonias suit a variety of lighting conditions, from full sun through to shaded areas, so if you’ve a tricky spot in your garden and you’re wondering what to put there, a begonia might do the trick!
- Watering – These plants can withstand moderate drought, so don’t despair if you forget to water your garden occasionally!
- Deer resistance – Live in an area with a high deer population? Waxy or furry-leaved begonias are resistant to deer, meaning your plants should survive unscathed while the animals are roaming!
- Disease resistance – When cared for correctly, your begonia plants should encounter no diseases. The main begonia issues come from overwatering, which can result in leaf spot or root rot.
|First-time gardener tip:
Plant begonias in the month of May in well-drained soil (soil that is fairly loose and allows excess water to drain through so that the plant doesn’t sit in water). Water regularly but allow the soil to dry out between watering. Fertilise with a high potash fertiliser (like tomato feed) weekly to get the best flowers.
Fibrous-rooted begonias, such as Begonia semperflorens, can be brought inside over winter, then taken back outside next May to flower again – but if you don’t have the space, you can just pop them on the compost heap when they’ve finished flowering.
The perfect begonia mix to start off your garden
Fill up your patio pots and hanging baskets with this beautiful begonia mix that can start off your summer garden with a burst of colour.
Ok – I have been mega excited about this begonia coming to market. For many years the Non Stop series was the most loved, for its endless blooming – literally nonstop! I dreamt of having a trailing form which would look swell in baskets, as traditional nonstop was upright. Benary came up trumps with a yellow one first – but this wasn’t enough – I knew we needed a mix, and lo and behold a few years later we have this!! All the rainbow colours you love in Non Stop, but now with beautiful bejewelled trailing stems. Oh gosh!! I have to have it this summer!!
The Begonia Non-Stop Joy Series features plants that produce non-stop flowers all summer long, keeping that rainbow of colour flowing all season!
This is a semi-trailing variety from the Non-Stop series, which means that you’ll be blessed with showstopping flowers overflowing in your pots and baskets, providing a head-turning floral display.
Each blooms is around 10cm in diameter, with the plants themselves giving an overall height and spread of 20-30cm. Talk about high impact!
With this series, available at QVC here, you’ll receive a mix of five colours including mocca white, orange, red, rose picotee and yellow. Plant them throughout your garden for interest at every turn.
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.