Growing Tuberous Begonias

Growing Tuberous Begonias

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With bold colors in a neon kaleidoscope of pink, yellow, red, white, and orange, and beautiful foliage as eye-catching as their blooms, begonias are an all-round winner for your beds, pots, hanging baskets, and patios. While it can be hard to find a plant that can not only survive in shade but deliver showstopping color and drama in even the most forlorn spot, begonias are proof that shade plants can be every bit as spectacular as sun-loving blooms.

Find more shade plants inspiration with thisultimate guide.

Are there different types of begonia?

Yes, there are four main categories of begonia: fibrous, tuberous, hardy, and foliage.

In this article, we will look specifically at how to care for tuberous begonia – a plant you will adore for its rose-like blossoms and tropical shades. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to plant tuberous begonia bulbs, wonder no more! We’re about to tell you everything you need to know about planting tuberous begonias.

Related Post: Easy Roses to Grow

How to grow tuberous begonias

Did you know that begonias originated in tropical regions? Therefore, it isn’t surprising that when caring for the large blossoms of tuberous begonias many of the required conditions reflect their native environment.

Related Post: Low-Maintenance Tropical Landscape Plants

If beginning with tubers (instead of tuberous begonia plants which are a little more expensive) you need to begin growing them individually in pots or a seed tray approximately in March or April (roughly 6-8 weeks before the last frost is predicted in your area).

Place the tuberous begonia bulbs in holes roughly 2.5cm deep with the hollow side facing upwards. The soil should be moist but well-draining (mixing potting mix with sand will achieve this). Leave the tray in a warm spot (roughly 65°F) with indirect light until sprouts emerge.

Then, in May, replant outdoors in an area with moist but well-draining soil and dappled light. In these early stages, your tuberous bulbs might need additional light to avoid becoming spindly.

Growing begonia in pots

The good news is that tuberous varieties of this plant are particularly suited to growing in hanging baskets or pots. So, if you are short on space and working with only a balcony, small yard or patio, you can still enjoy these tuberous delights in all of their showy, magnificent glory. 

In fact, due to their love of shade and their brittle stems needing a sheltered location, these tuberous varieties will actually do particularly well in a covered patio or townhouse garden. Plant them in pots following the same directions you would for ground planting.

However, if looking to grow begonias indoors, instead of tuberous, foliage begonias are definitely the best option once they can be kept in partial or dappled shade. For more inspiration on some of the best houseplants to decorate your home with,you might enjoy the following guides:

How much sun do tuberous begonias need?

Given these plants are native to tropical regions where they are protected and covered by rainforest cover, it isn’t surprising that they need plenty of shade to grow. Tuberous begonias particularly love dappled shade and filtered light. 

While their foliage will burn in direct sunlight, access to filtered light or morning sun is ideal for these plants. So be sure to place your tuberous roots somewhere they can safely enjoy a little sun while still protected by a nice amount of shade. 

How often do tuberous begonias need to be watered?

Many people wonder, ‘how often should I water begonias?’ There is no hard and set rule for tuberous varieties. Tuberous begonias like their soil to be slightly moist - too much water and their tuberous bulbs will rot. Too little and they won’t have the nourishment to thrive. 

Generally, when you notice the top layer of soil is dry, you know it’s time to give your tuberous begonias another watering.

This is only during the growing season. Once tuberous begonias enter dormancy in the fall or winter, it’s crucial to stop all watering and allow the soil to dry out.

Related Post: How to Water Plants While Away

When to plant tuberous begonia bulbs

Planting begonia tubers should be done indoors in early springtime, about six to eight weeks before the last expected frost in your area. Then, when there is no chance of potential frost and the soil has warmed up after winter, tuberous begonia bulbs are ready to be replanted outside (this is usually in May). 

However, if you want to get a headstart on your tuberous begonia planting, you can always start them indoors a little earlier in late winter instead. 

Tuberous begonia plant care

Once planted and well watered, care for tuberous begonias centers on ensuring they get enough fertilizer and are helped enter dormancy effectively. 

Feed these tuberous plants weekly with a fertilizer like tomato feed throughout the summer but stop once September comes as this is naturally time for the plant to begin to rest. 

Deadhead faded flowers as soon as possible to encourage the plant to redirect energy to the tuber and reduce watering from late summer. Good air circulation is also crucial for tuberous begonias. 

Then, once the foliage is spent and yellowing, it’s time to dig up the tuberous bulbs and store them somewhere dry and dark with a temperature of approximately 50°F until spring when they can once again be brought back to life. 

While tuberous begonias might need a bit more TLC than the average houseplant, we think they are definitely worth the attention. However, don’t forget if you are low on time or gardening space, you can still get the same joy from ordering farm-fresh flowers from one of the following flower delivery services which will deliver tropical bouquets, gigantic flowers and a spray of color straight to your door!

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