Both wax begonias and angel wing begonias are fibrous-rooted, which means they have a basic, familiar-looking stringy root ball. These are the begonias commonly sold in hanging baskets and as bedding plants.

Fibrous-rooted begonias make great houseplants over the winter, as do the rhizomatous types (such as Rex begonias), which are grown primarily for their foliage. With a little space and a bright window, these types of begonias will continue to grow (and possibly even bloom) year-round.

Bewildered by Begonias?

To properly care for your begonia over the winter, you first need to identify what kind of begonia you have. Care instructions can vary significantly depending on the type.

Fibrous and rhizomatous begonias are relatively easy to grow as houseplants through the winter months. Tuberous begonias, on the other hand, need to be dug up and stored as bulbs over the winter. Finally, hardy begonias are perennial plants that can be left outside.

If you’re unsure about your specific begonia variety, our guide for ‘How To Grow Different Varieties of Begonias’ should be helpful. This article includes images of various begonia types and identification tips.

Transitioning Begonias Inside

When overwintering fibrous and rhizomatous begonias indoors, follow this careful process:

Bringing begonias inside before the first frost hits prevents damage or loss. Transitioning plants during early fall allows them to gradually adjust to environmental changes when temperatures are milder.

It is best to leave bedding plants in their existing pots to reduce transplant stress, nestling the pots in garden beds for easy removal. If plants are extremely root-bound, repot them in early fall before bringing them inside. Also, pinch back any leggy growth to keep plants compact. Carefully inspect all plants first and discard any with signs of disease or pests. Treat minor problems, but never bring infestations indoors.

When placing begonias in bright filtered light from an east-facing window, blooming varieties need more direct sunlight than foliage varieties. If light levels are low, tips for caring for low-light houseplants may help. 

Water evenly without saturation and empty drainage trays so plants don’t sit in puddles. While actively growing, lightly fertilize plants, reducing feeding for dormant winter plants. The ideal temperature range is 65°F to 73°F during the day and over 55°F at night. Increase humidity with pebble trays or humidifiers to help adjust to drier indoor air. Dropping leaves initially is normal during this transition. Continue caring for plants until new leaves emerge.

Ongoing Winter Care

  • Watering: Check soil moisture often, watering when the top inch becomes dry. Avoid overwatering.
  • Cleaning: Periodically wash leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust.

With the proper growing conditions and care, fibrous and rhizomatous begonias will keep thriving all winter. The benefit is having mature, established plants ready for spring planting.

Periodically rotating pots for even sunlight exposure and using grow lights when natural light is insufficient to help begonias thrive. Removing dead leaves/flowers and pinching back excessive growth by using sterile pruners helps with begonia pruning over the winter. Staking up weak stems or providing support prevents damage.

So, Should I Overwinter Container Begonias?

Overwintering begonias indoors enables getting a head start on the next growing season since mature container plants transplant better than new starters each year. Overwintering lets you nurture plants already adapted to your unique growing conditions — soil, sunlight, climate, etc. — which can lead to healthier, more robust plants compared to purchasing new starters every spring that take time to acclimate. 

However, overwintering requires time, effort, and sometimes special equipment like grow lights. If you lack proper indoor space or plant care ability, you may opt to compost annuals like wax begonias. Purchasing new plants each spring is convenient but forfeits nurturing plants already acclimated to your conditions. Overwintering also reduces waste and repeat purchases year to year.

FAQs About Overwintering Begonias

What problems should I watch for?

Dropping leaves initially is normal, but check thoroughly for signs of disease or pests, which require discarding plants. Also, watch for pests like aphids and mealybugs that can spread quickly to other plants in the confined indoor space. Leggy, stretched growth indicates plants aren’t getting enough sunlight, signaling it’s time to supplement with grow lights.

When should I transplant begonias outside?

Gradually transition begonias outdoors after spring’s last frost date passes, starting with short shade exposures for a few hours before leaving them outside overnight. Transplant overwintered begonias into beds/containers anytime that overnight temperatures stay above 50ºF. When preparing garden beds, I recommend organic lawn care methods.

What fertilizer should I use?

While actively growing, feed begonias biweekly with half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer. Avoid fertilizing dormant or distressed plants. Then, in spring, when transplanting outside, mix slow-release granules into the soil for steady nutrients all season long.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Jonathon Jachura

Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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