Begonias – Flower Characteristics and Species
Begonia appreciates its bright, lush blooms and unusual, beautifully colored asymmetric ornamental leaves. The perennial is native to tropical forests and subtropical regions of America, Asia, and Africa.
The begonia is a flower of surprising beauty. It is a decorative addition to both the garden and the windowsill. The great advantage is that the begonia is not only undemanding and fits well in the room, but there are hundreds of species, so everyone can choose the flower that suits them best.
There are about 800 species, and each has its unique color, size, shape, and texture of leaves. Begonias are amazingly versatile: they can be tall with a straight stem or small without a branch, with tuberous or creeping rhizomes.
History of Begonia
Michel Begon described it in the Antilles. A few decades later, the ever-flowering begonia from Brazil was described, followed by the royal begonia from the Hindustan peninsula and then the tuberous begonia from South America. These provided the basis for the emergence of modern varieties. At first, it was widely used for ornamental purposes – purely a greenhouse flower – then types emerged that could withstand the vagaries of the weather.
There is now a great diversity of hybrid forms and varieties of crops throughout the world. Among the most popular species is the tuberous begonia. Its flowers are of unusual beauty and brightness.
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In nature, the plant prefers a humid climate of the tropics and subtropics. It is shady but can also be found at 4,000 meters above the sea, in the mountains, and on arid slopes.
Flower Characteristics and Species
Begonia belongs to the Begonia family, which includes over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids. The plant is native to tropical and subtropical zones of Southeast Asia (India, Tibet, Sri Lanka) and South and Southwest Africa (including Madagascar). The species is most commonly found in mountainous areas (around 3500-4000 m above sea level) but can also grow in rainforests.
Interstitial rocks and the rhizomes of old trees are also favored cultivation sites. Begonia has long been known, studied, and has managed to take root in Europe and America, but it is in Africa that the most significant percentage of this crop in the world grows.
Begonias vary from 5-10 centimeters to 2-3 meters. There are also many species but plant breeders have derived several categories that are most common in the home. These are ornamental-flowering houseplants, ornamental-leaved houseplants, and ornamental-flowering potted begonias. Among those listed are evergreens, perennials, climbing
flowers, and tall annuals, but they all share bright foliage and lush blooms.
- Begonia carolineifolia
This specimen crop came to us from as far away as Mexico. Begonia carolineifolia has a stalky, fairly thick stem and large leaves with sharp-edged edges and distinct streaks. The leaf blades are large and can grow to 30 centimeters or more. It blooms in a fluffy, pod-like flowering period in late winter.
- Begonia rex
The royal begonia is native to the eastern regions of India. The flower does not get its name for anything: the culture has a high decorative value. Also, this species was the basis for the largest number of hybrids. The plant is genuinely astonishingly beautiful. Its thickened rhizome and large leaves up to 25-30 centimeters long and 15-20 centimeters wide have a heart-like shape with carved or wavy edges. They can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Leaf coloring is varied – bronze-brown, terry-raspberry, or bright red-purple. Variants with red or silver flecks may occasionally be found. Also particularly popular is the hybrid subspecies with black leaves in crimson speckles. It is noteworthy that such a begonia blooms relatively inconspicuous small pale pink flowers.
- Begonia tiger (Bauer's begonia)
This species is also often found under the name maple-leaved begonia. It is native to Central America. As an adult, it does not grow to a height of more than 30 centimeters, and the flower stems are stalky. Leaves are light green with black or dark brown speckles along the edges. On the underside of the leaf, there is a slight down the crop blooms in delicate pink small flowers in fluffy inflorescences. Generally, in the natural environment, tiger begonia is not common. Still, thanks to the successful work of breeders, this variety has become the basis for numerous hybrids with a mesmerizing appearance.
Tiger is the most striking representative of the species with a stalking stem. Under favorable conditions, it can grow to the 10-meter mark. Its bronze leaves with brown veins have a patterned pattern and are soft and silky. The shoots have a reddish tint.
Cleopatra – The leaves of this variety can change color depending on light intensity. The outer side is covered with tiny light green hairs, while the underside is red or burgundy.
- Begonia corallina
This lovely variety grows as a semi-shrub. It can grow to one meter in the home and will often require pruning. Its long straight shoots look somewhat like bamboo stems. The leaf blades are oblong, ovate, up to 20 cm long and 7 cm wide, elongated in shape (up to 20 cm in total) with serrated edges. The upper side of the leaves is deep green with silvery speckles; the underside is a light green shade. The species blooms in inflorescences. The petals are a delicate coral color.
- Begonia semperflorens
Begonia semperflorens is a 50-60 centimeter tall herbaceous plant with straight shoots hanging as the species matures. Leaves of ever-flowering begonias are rounded, slightly pubescent at the edges, short in length – up to 5 cm, and the range of shades – from light green to dark green. Rarely are there species with a red tint. The Begonia semperflorence gets its name because, although the flowering is short-lived, it quickly changes to young inflorescences of a whitish or pink hue. If the Begonia semperflorens grow under favorable conditions with regular and sufficient watering, nutrients, and light, they will flower happily, even during the colder months.
- Begonia elatior (Begonia x elatior)
This variety is recognized as one of the most beautiful and abundant bloomers. When choosing an indoor begonia, many people prefer it. Elatior reaches a height of no more than 35-40 centimeters. The plant is characterized by a thick stem and heart-shaped leaves up to 7 centimeters long with a serrated edge. The outside surface is glossy, while the underside is matte and lighter in color. Coral or pink flowers grow in inflorescences on long peduncles.
- Begonia x tuberhybrida pendula
Begonia x tuberhybrida pendula has long been a frequent visitor to our balconies and terraces due to its flowing branches. The sprawling cascades with their densely arranged flowers are a real decoration for any interior. The most convenient way to grow the plant is in wicker baskets and newfangled cachet vessels. The species includes several varieties that vary in appearance, size, and structure.
Caring For Begonia at Home
The most important thing about indoor begonia is that it needs a regimen and consistency. That is, where you initially put it should be its permanent "place of residence." In addition, the begonia does not tolerate cramped conditions. If your windowsill already a lot of pots with potted flowers, it is better not to squeeze their begonia. Prepare to plant or buy a plant thoroughly.
Also, this culture likes fresh air, so airing the room should be regular. But draughts and sudden temperature changes should not be allowed as this can lead to the gradual death of the plant, fading of the inflorescences, and foliage.
Lighting and Temperature
The Begonia container should be placed on a windowsill with good lighting. However, direct sunlight should be avoided. It is worth noting that ornamental-flowering indoor and potted begonias, in particular, like to be exposed to plenty of light. Place the plants on window sills that face east or west. The optimum temperature for begonias is 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. However, the summer heat can also be tolerated by the plant.
So you already have a suitable pot for your begonia. Take it and fill it one-third full with drainage material. Put a layer of charcoal 2 to 3 centimeters thick on top of the drainage (to prevent rotting). The begonia can be planted in the pot without scraping the soil from its roots and filling the empty spaces with the previously prepared substrate. Remember to water your flower immediately after planting. The best period for planting is the end of March when the daylight hours required for the average growth and development of the plant are extended. If the begonia has tubers on its roots, germinate the plant before planting. To do this, place the plant on top of the potting soil without submerging the tubers and in a sufficiently lighted place with moist air and a temperature of 16 to 18 degrees above zero.
The indoor begonia requires a careful watering regime. Although this species likes moisture, it does not need frequent watering. Most importantly, it is necessary to ensure that the humidity is fairly high. Otherwise, the leaf tips of the flower will begin to curl and dry out. During the hotter periods of the year, the begonia needs to be watered more abundantly, but the regime should be such to avoid stagnation of moisture in the container.
Transplanting periodically is essential for the full development of any plant, and the begonia is no exception. Repotting should be done with the onset of spring before the plant enters a period of active growth. As soon as you notice that the rhizomes of the begonia begin to "sprout" from the drainage holes, you can start to report. To do this, carefully remove the plant from the pot together with the root ball.
Now carefully clean the soil. Prepare a mildly concentrated manganese solution and dip the roots in it. Next, rinse the seeds in a container with clear water. Make sure to carefully inspect the root system to see any rot or damage. Remove any excess material. Pick a new, larger pot for the begonia, let the roots dry out, and you can then plant the begonia. Be sure to put the flower back in its original location. At first, the plant should be watered more frequently than usual after replanting.
As a rule, there are no particular problems with the transplanting of begonia, especially in the case of young plants. But with adult specimens, there may be some difficulties associated with the numerous leaf plates. But no situation is impossible. If your begonia is three or older, the culture can be divided into two (or more) parts.
If you have a begonia growing in your garden or bed, its above-ground shoots will die off on their own with the arrival of the first frost in late autumn. And if you have an indoor begonia, you will have to cut it back yourself. All dead and withered parts should be removed regularly throughout the year. Not only will this maintain the attractiveness of your flower, but it is also a good prevention for various diseases and encourages it to flower more abundantly.
Begonia is widely used in folk medicine. It is a good analgesic and antispasmodic and has anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. Infusion of flowers is used to treat wounds, burns, irritation, and ulcers. Headaches can be eased with juice made from the leaves.
Can I keep begonia in the house?
One of the big advantages of this plant is that begonia grows well outdoors and in-room pots. Begonias will flower actively and lushly if the lighting, temperature, soil, and humidity are appropriate. The ideal temperature during winter and summer is +18 C.
Where should a begonia stand?
The begonia container should be placed on a windowsill with good lighting. However, direct sunlight should be avoided. It is worth noting that ornamental flowering begonias, particularly, like to be exposed to plenty of light.
How do I care for Begonia in a pot at home?
No need frequent watering. It is much more important that the air humidity is high enough. Otherwise, the leaf plates' tips will begin to dry out. In summer, however, begonias need to be watered more abundantly in hot weather, but stagnant water in the root system should be avoided.