(Begonia) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Begoniaceae, with over 1500 species of evergreen or deciduous shrubs, and small, tree-like perennials and annuals. Begonias are grown for their colorful flowers and foliage. Begonia is the common name and also the generic name for all the species in the genus.
The commonly cultivated begonias can be grouped into the following 7 groups.
- They are perennial, evergreen, woody begonias with erect, cane-like stems and regularly spaced, swollen nodes. They bears flowers in large, pendulous panicles. New growth develops from the base of the plant, and pinching out growing tips can encourage branching. Cane-stemmed begonias grow under cover in good light but not direct sun, and well-drained, soil-based mix. Tall plants need staking. Propagation is by seed or tip cuttings in spring.
- They are evergreen, bushy and multi-stemmed perennials. The stems are usually hairy, freely branched, flexible, erect or pendent. The leaves may be glabrous or hairy, 10-30 cm long and 15 cm wide. They bear white, cream or pink single flowers. Shrub-like begonias grow under cover in good light, moist and well-drained soil and 55% relative humidity. Propagation is by seed or stem cuttings in spring.
- They are evergreen, rhizomatous perennials growingfor their foliage and small, single flowers. The leaves, 8-30 cm long, are green or brown, smooth, crested or puckered, often marked silver, and are sometimes spirally twisted. Creeping cultivars are usually more branched, and are suitable for hanging baskets. Rhizomatous begonias grow under cover in cool climates, in partial shades, well-drained soil and 40-75% relative humidity. Water the plants sparingly and do not allow water to remain on the leaves as this can lead to botrytis, a plant disease caused by fungi infection. Propagation is by division of rhizomes, leaf cuttings or by seed.
Semperflorens begonias (Wax begonias)
- They are evergreen, bushy perennials that are often grown as bedding annuals, and derived from B. cucullata
var. hookeri, B. schmidtiana, and other species. Their stems are freely branched, soft and succulent. The leaves are glossy, round, green, bronze, or variegated, 5 cm long. Semperflorens begonias bear single or double flowers. Bushy plants can be achieved by pinching out the growing tips. They grow well in sun or partial shade, and well-rained soil. Propagation is by seed, or stem cuttings.
Rex-cultorum (Rex) begonias
- They are mostly evergreen, rhizomatous perennials of various habits, derived from crosses of B. rex
and related species. Rex begonias are grown for their colorful, oval to lance-shaped leaves, 8-30 cm long, which are sometimes spirally twisted. They grow under cover in cool climates, in partial shades, well-drained soil and 40-75% relative humidity. Water the plants sparingly and do not allow water to remain on the leaves as this can lead to botrytis, a plant disease caused by fungi infection. Propagation is by division of rhizomes, leaf cuttings or by seed.
Tuberous begonias (including the Tuberhybrida, Multiflora, and Pendula begonias)
- They are tuberous, erect, bushy, winter-dormant perennials, grown for their foliage and flowers. The flowers are single, semi-double, or double. Plants may require staking. Propagation is by seed, stem or basal cuttings, or division of tubers.
- They are compact, low-growing, evergreen perennials, with succulent thin stems. They can be divided into two groups: The single flowered, usually pink or white Christmas, Lorraine, or Cheimantha begonias; and the single, semi-double or double Elatior or Rieger begonias which come in a wide range of colors. The leaves are green, or bronze, 5 cm long. Flowers are borne from late autumn to mid-spring. Winter-flowering begonias prefer indirect sun, moist, well-drained soil, and 40% relative humidity. Cut back old stems after flowering to 10 cm tall. Propagation is by seed or stem cuttings in spring.
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