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How to Take Care of Begonias (Indoor & Outdoor)

Woman planting begonia in a pot with garden tools

With cheerful flowers and beautiful leaves, begonia plants (Begonia genus) make excellent additions to outdoor gardens and indoor planters. This group of plants includes over 2,000 species, so there’s a begonia that works for just about every location and environment. By choosing the right variety and following a few begonia care tips, you’ll find these plants are easy to grow.

Outdoor Begonia Care

Ceramic pot with orange and yellow begonia in bloom

With plants full of bright blooms, begonias liven up outdoor garden beds and porch planters. If you’d like to add some of these lovely plants to your outdoor spaces, check out these begonia care tips.

Sun and Shade

No matter if you’re looking for a plant for a shady porch or a sunny yard, you can find a begonia that fits your environment. If you’re growing begonias outdoors, your two main choices are wax begonias and tuberous begonias. Wax begonias are the most heat and sun-tolerant begonia, so they’re the best choice for full sun locations. One good guideline is that Begonia plants with red or rust-colored leaves make the best choice for full sun. Tuberous begonias prefer part-shade, especially during the summer.

Water Needs

Begonias thrive in soil that is neither dry nor saturated. Your goal is to find a moisture level and watering schedule that is justttt right. A good rule of thumb is to water every two to four days.
When it’s hot and dry you’ll need to water more often than when the air cools down and the soil holds more moisture. Begonia plants in full sun will also require more water than plants in shady locations. And since container plants tend to dry out faster than those in the ground, you’ll want to keep an extra close eye on begonias in planters and window boxes.

Where To Plant Them

One of the great things about begonias is that they can be grown in a wide variety of areas. Make sure you choose a location that meets the sun requirements outlined above. Additionally, find a location that receives good airflow.
Different types of begonias can thrive in the ground, in window boxes, or in containers. Compact and heat-tolerant wax begonias are the perfect plant for sunny gardens while cascading tuberous begonias look gorgeous trailing out of shaded porch planters.

Pests and Diseases

Humans aren’t the only ones who love begonias! Several pests and fungal diseases attack this plant, but you can keep the bad guys at bay with the correct information.

Root Rot

Root rot is just like what it sounds: rotten roots! Even if you don’t see soft roots, there are other cues to let you know your begonia plant is struggling. Since plants can’t take up water or nutrients when their roots are soft, yellow or wilting leaves are a sign of root rot.
Constantly moist soil is the most common cause of root rot, so let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings.

Powdery Mildew

Another fungal disease that impacts begonia plants is powdery mildew. As the name suggests, this disease coats your plants in a light powder. It shows up most often when leaves are wet, so avoid getting water on the leaves when watering your plants. Good airflow is another key to preventing this disease.

Sucking Insects

A wide variety of insect pests love to suck the juices out of begonia plants. Aphids, thrips, and mealybugs can weaken your begonia plant and spread disease. If you notice any of these pests, wipe them off with a wet rag or spray them with insecticidal soap.

Annual or Perennial?

Those who are looking to put in some outdoor begonias may wonder whether the plant is an annual or perennial. The answer lies in the type of climate you live in. In zones 8a and cooler, begonias are annual plants. If you live in a cooler zone, plant them out once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50ºF and enjoy your plants until the first fall frost hits. If you happen to live in a zone 8b to 11, your begonias should be able to last outside all year round.

Indoor Care

Potted begonia on table near window

While some types of begonias make excellent outdoor plants, other species are well-suited for life indoors. Angel wing and rex begonias thrive as houseplants as long as you provide the right environment and care.

Location Location

Indoor begonias aren’t super fussy, but if you’re looking for the ideal location for your blossoming beauty, there are a couple of rules to keep in mind. Begonias like bright, indirect light. Look for a sunny spot that offers filtered light; a place a few feet from a window covered with a sheer curtain is an excellent spot. Avoid direct light since indoor begonia plants are susceptible to sunburn. If you have a spot on your home that’s a little on the humid side, your begonia will love you for placing it there.

Watch Your Water

When grown indoors, begonias prefer soil that’s moist without being soaking wet. Water your plant when you notice the top inch of soil is dry. And don’t forget to choose a container with drainage holes so excess water can escape!

Popular Varieties

Begonias blooming in yellow, pink, orange

With over 2,000 species in the Begonia genus, you’ll find there are a wide variety of shapes, colors, and textures of begonias.

Wax Begonias

Wax begonias are a group of fibrous begonias with fleshy, waxy leaves and many small red, pink, or white flowers. They only grow 6-12 inches tall and wide, so they’re often grouped together outside as annual bedding plants. Wax begonias can handle a lot of heat and sun which means they’re great summer plants. Begonia semperflorens is one common wax begonia species.

Tuberous Begonias

Tuberous begonias have green or maroon leaves and an upright or trailing form. They have single or double blooms that come in colors including pink, yellow, red, and white. While tuberous begonia plants can handle a bit of sun, they prefer part shade or filtered light.

Angel Wing Begonias

If you’re looking for a houseplant, the angel wing begonia is a great choice. This type of cane begonia has large, upright leaves that resemble angel wings.

Rex Begonias

While these rhizomatous begonias rarely flower, they have large leaves with stunning patterns and colors that provide as much intrigue as mixed arrangements. You can grow rex begonias outdoors in containers or indoors as houseplants as long as the temperature stays below 75ºF.

Beautiful Begonias

Now that you know all about begonia care, it’s time to add a few of these beautiful plants to your home. Make sure to choose the proper variety and provide a great environment and you’ll be rewarded with colorful blooms and dazzling foliage. If you want to learn more about flower care, check out our tips for azalea care.

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