I have some beautiful wax and angel type begonias in pots. Can I bring them inside for the winter? How do I care for them? -Robert
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 house plants over the winter, as do the rhizomatous types (such as Rex begonias), which are grown primarily for their foliage.
All you really need is a little space and a bright window, and these types of begonias will continue to grow (and possibly even bloom!) year-round.
Bewildered by Begonias?
To know how to care for your begonia over the winter, you really need to know what kind of begonia you’re growing. Fibrous and rhizomatous begonias are easy to grow as house plants, but tuberous begonias need to be stored as bulbs over the winter, and hardy begonias should just be left outside. If you aren’t sure what kind of begonia you have, check out our article on How To Grow Different Varieties of Begonias.
How To Overwinter Fibrous and Rhizomatous Begonias
Follow these tips for overwintering fibrous and rhizomatous begonias indoors.
Timing Is Important: Bring your begonias inside before the first frost, or they may be lost for good. Also, to reduce temperature and humidity shock, take advantage of that wonderful early fall season (when neither the heat nor air conditioning is running nonstop) to get your plants acclimated to the indoors.
Leave in Pots: To save the work (and plant stress) of potting your bedding begonias, try nestling them in the ground in pots that are easy to lift out in the fall.
Repot if Necessary: Spring is the traditional season for repotting begonias, but if yours are so rootbound that they’re struggling, go ahead and move them to a bigger pot before bringing them indoors for the winter.
Trim Back: Lightly pinch or trim back leggy begonias to shape them up. If you’re digging up bedding plants or repotting a rootbound plant, cut back the tops to about the same size as the root ball.
Inspect Carefully: Don’t bring pests or diseases indoors! Throw away any begonias that look diseased or infested, and treat minor problems before bringing them inside.
Light: Bright filtered light is ideal, with perhaps some winter sun from an east-facing window. Blooming types of begonias like more sun than foliage types. Even though the light is dimmer indoors, be careful of too much sun exposure, especially if your begonias are used to growing in the shade.
Water: Keep begonias evenly moist, neither soggy nor dried out. Begonias don’t like “wet feet,” so empty the drainage tray or decorative planter after watering, so that they don’t sit in a puddle.
Fertilizer: Feed your begonias lightly throughout the winter. These types don’t go dormant, but they will slow down some over the winter. A good rule is to feed them more when they’re growing, and less when they slow down.
Temperature: Keep your begonias between 65° to 73° F during the day, and no colder than 55° F at night. Be aware of drafts and freezing window glass that might damage foliage.
Add Humidity: A pebble tray will help give your begonias extra humidity to cope with the change in environment. If you’re overwintering Rex begonias, they might need misting or a little help from a humidifier.
Adjustment Period: Some begonias respond to the shock of moving indoors by dropping and regrowing some or all of their leaves. Don’t worry, just pinch back leggy stems and keep on taking care of your begonia until it grows new leaves.