Begonias are a large group of tropical foliage and flowering plants, very popular both indoors and in gardens for their abundant, beautiful flowers and handsome foliage. Begonias are divided into 3 major groups according to their root structures: fibrous-rooted, rhizomatous, and tuberous-rooted begonias.
Of the tuberous begonias, discussed here, the best known come from a sub-group bred from South American stock, called Tuberhybridas (Begonia x tuberhybrida). One look at their gorgeous flowers, which are often compared to roses and carnations, is enough to convince almost any gardener to try a few. Although the tender tubers must be dug from the garden and stored over the winter, they can last 10 years if properly cared for.
Height And Spread
Tuberous begonias grow 12 to 18 inches tall, and spread 1 to 1-1/2 feet wide at maturity. The new, compact multiflora types grow to about 6 inches tall.
The showy, waxy begonia blossoms, are available in shades of red, pink, yellow, orange or white. They come in single, double forms, bicolored, ruffled or smooth. They bloom from summer right up until frost. Male and female flowers appear separately on the same plant, and some growers pinch off the smaller female side buds for larger male blooms. Pinching off the first 3 or 4 buds of the season from each plant will encourage larger blossoms. It's a good idea to do this anyway, since the tubers tend to set more flowers than their root systems can adequately support.
The leaves of tuberous begonias are almost as varied as the flowers. Appearing alternately on the stem, each leaf or, in some cases, just the veins, may be colored reddish brown instead of the usual medium green. Leaves are oblique (one side grows longer than the other) and are sometimes called "elephant's ears".