How To Grow Different Varieties of Begonias

Tuberous begonias.

If you’ve looked around your local garden center recently, you’ll find that there are so many new varieties of begonias to choose from nowadays! In addition to the little wax begonias that do so well as bedding plants, there are also the lovely dragon-wing begonias, trailing begonias, showy tuberous begonias, rex begonias, and the list goes on!

Here’s what you need to know about growing different types of begonias.

Begonias in flowerpots
Begonias prefer sunny spots. (DepositPhotos)

Begonia Basics

Begonias are tropical perennials, which means that in frost-free climates, they can live (and sometimes bloom) all year round. They like the conditions that appeal to many tropical plants:

  • Light: A bright spot with a little sun protection. Morning sun (and a little afternoon shade) is perfect. Wax begonias can tolerate more sun than other types, and the ones with bronze-colored leaves are the most sun-tolerant of all. Tuberous begonias prefer more shade and less heat, so we often see them on display in late summer.
  • Soil: Light, rich, humusy soil. Begonias are great for containers because they love the light texture of potting mix. As bedding plants, they’ll appreciate some compost mixed into the soil.
  • Water: Begonias like to be moist, but they’ll rot if kept too soggy.
  • Fertilizer: Just give begonias a light feeding about once a month using a balanced organic fertilizer.
  • Temperature: Begonias will die if exposed to cold temperatures. Bring them indoors when temperatures start dropping into the 50s F overnight.
  • General Care: Pinch back leggy stems and deadhead spent flowers to keep your begonias in top shape.

Pink Begonias. (Ralphs_Fotos/Pixabay)

Different Types of Begonias

If you think you know what begonias look like, think again! There are many types of begonias, with different leaf shapes, colors, and growth habits. Some look more like trailing ivy than a begonia, and others will wow you with spectacularly patterned leaves or huge, rose-like blossoms. Begonias are categorized both by their growth habit and their root systems.

Various types of begonias are commonly described using terms like:

  • Cane-like
  • Fibrous
  • Hardy
  • Rhizomatous
  • Semperflorens
  • Shrublike
  • Thick-stemmed
  • Trailing

Gloved hands place new plants in a raised garden bed
Planting in a raised bed.

How to Grow Different Types of Begonias

If you’re planning to grow begonias as an annual (put out in the spring and discard in the fall), there’s not much difference in how you grow them. Some varieties are more sun-tolerant than others, but for the most part you can just pick the one you like best. Give them bright light, a little sun protection in the heat of the day, and regular water, and enjoy!

The differences in begonia types really becomes important if you decide to grow them year-round. It’s quite easy to keep begonias over the winter, but different types need a little different attention:

  • Fibrous-Rooted Begonias: These include the semperflorens (or wax begonias), cane-like begonias, dragon-wing, and other varieties. These plants have just a regular root ball, with thin, stringy roots. Most of these plants will continue growing and blooming all year long if you bring them inside before the first frost, put in a bright window, keep moist, and continue feeding.
  • Rhizomatous Begonias: If you look at the soil surface, you’ll see the fleshy stems and roots creeping along and peeking out of the soil of rhizomatous begonias. Like fibrous-rooted begonias, these types are easy to keep as houseplants. They’re mostly grown for their foliage, but some varieties will even bloom in the winter.
  • Rex Begonias: These varieties are the showiest of all begonias. They are usually rhizomatous and will continue growing indoors in the winter; but they need more humidity, moisture, and fertilizer than other varieties.
  • Tuberous Begonias: Here’s where the challenge comes in! Tuberous begonias have a fleshy, round tuberous root – think potato – and bloom in late summer and fall. Tuberous begonias go dormant in the winter, so they won’t stay green as houseplants. Instead, in early fall (before the first frost), dig up the tubers and store them in a cool dry place for the winter. Next spring, after all danger of frost has passed, replant them in pots or outdoors. For more information about overwintering tuberous begonias, check out our article on How To Store Tender Bulbs Over the Winter.
  • Hardy Begonias: This variety of tuberous begonia is hardy to zone 6 and is commonly grown as a perennial in southern gardens. You’ll sometimes find hardy begonias at garden centers, but more commonly they’re passed from gardener to gardener. If you’re lucky enough to have this sweet, pink-flowered, shade-loving variety in your garden, all you have to do is watch it take over, and dig up sprouts for all your friends!

Potted Begonias. (Tama66/Pixabay)

How to Identify Different Types of Begonias

If you don’t know what kind of begonia you have, here’s how to find out:

  • Bring your begonia indoors in early fall, and see what happens. Tuberous begonias will start dying back as the days get shorter.
  • Gently dig up your begonia and take a look at the roots. Fibrous-rooted begonias will look stringy; rhizomatous will have creeping surface stems and roots; and tuberous begonias have a round, flattened brown tuber that looks, well, a lot like a cow pie!
  • Once you know what type you have, either repot them or store the tubers.

Further Information


  1. I have a bat wing begonia. It has never bloomed. What am I doing wrong? I keep it potted and bring it inside as a house plant for the winter. I have repotted it several times as it continues to out grow it’s home!

  2. I have a begonia in a container, which I brought indoors before a frost. It had the most beautiful orange flowers and Angel leaves. When it started to shed its leaves, I pinched them back and cut of the stringy stems. I have it in a window that has AM sunlight and which has proven to be a great window for other flowers such as Geraniums and Coleus. Not knowing what type of Begonia I have I am at a loss as to treat it during the winter.

  3. Hi,
    I live in california which is fairly warm all year long. my question is as follow:
    Do I prune the begonias for the winter when it start to look stringy.
    Thank you,

  4. I have 2 tuberous begonias, yellow and red. I plant them in separate pots in early spring and set them on top of my picnic table which is on the north side of the garage. They are just beautiful!!! They totally fill the pot and hang over the side.

  5. I bought a Hydrangea plant (pink) with 42 flowers and very healthy about 4 yrs ago. It never flowered after the 1st season. I transplanted it last yr and moved to a sunny area.
    What should I do?

  6. Where can I buy “Dragons Wing” Begonias”? I had one that grew over 6 feet tall and bloomed all summer in south-central Texas. I have sense moved to Riverside County, California (Hemet Ca).

  7. Hi.I have an angel wing type,it is very nice with its pink flowers.
    I have a ques,i like to now about its ill’s.thank’s alot.
    Oh,if you like ,i can send an image later.bye now.
    Be flower ,but not on old(live).

  8. I have 2 different begonias, one is a true Angel wing (dragon wing) the other is a different type of angle wing, it has the same flowers just different looking leaves, no spots. My question is… I am going to bring them in for the winter, they are in pots. Can they be planted in the same container. I am trying to combine some of my plants, I have over 50 to bring in for the winter. I want to transplant then before fall so not to put them into to much shock when brought inside.

  9. I have a beautiful Marmaduke begonia that develops holes in its leaves periodically. Would over fertilizing it cause this? When holes appear the plant is doused in a water and Listerine bath. The Listerine is properly diluted and produces carbolic acid which kills slugs (which I was advised were the hole making culprits) but does not harm the plant. Can anyone with experience in this matter offer help?

  10. My beautiful Marmaduke begonia that periodically develops holes in its leaves I have been advised that slugs are the culprits although I have not seen evidence of their existence. I have used Listerine well diluted in water to treat this condition. Listerine produces carbolic acid in the soil that kills critters but does no harm to the plant. Can anyone offer advice regarding this matter? Even after Listerine treatments on an as-needed basis the holes reappear after awhile. Could over fertilizing be the problem? Please help!

  11. I saw a beautiful large begonia and was told it was a fireside begonia but none of the greenhouses seem to know what it is. Can anyone help

  12. I had a volunteer old-fashion petunia which was beautiful, but all of a sudden just turned brown, withered and died mid July. I don’t think it had a chance to reseed because I was dead heading the spent blooms. I don’t know what I did wrong or was it time for petunias to die back. Its hard to find old-fashion petunias, do you know of a seed company that sells them. I live in growing zone 8.

  13. I have 3 begonia tubers in a large tub and noticed for awhile that the leaves had white spots on them, I put this down to watering. Now the leaves have holes in them and some of the flower petals too, obviously something is eating them. I cannot see anything under the leaves but have sprayed them with but spray this morning.

  14. I have what I think are tuberous begonias in a pot on my porch. Can I winter them over without removing them from the soil and put out for next year?

  15. My bronze leaf fibrous root Begonia houseplant has white spots. I had it outdoors for 2 weeks in early Oct. for the first time. It looked OK when I brought it indoors. What to do for it? I’m also concerned it might be “contagious” to nearby plants.

  16. Recently was given a stem and leaf from best I can tell is a (Beefsteak) Erythrophylla begonia. All she knows is that it was her grandmother’s and thinks it is a begonia. I have it rooted now and need info, soil, water, etc. Can you please help?

  17. I live in Salisbury in Adelaide,South Australia. I am a Volunteer gardener and our community centre is designed as a quadrant of buildings with a courtyard garden. This is a very sheltered garden and gets about two to three hours of sun at noon which our Angel Wing begonias tolerate very well. There is a large canopied structure in the centre as well. Our begonias are in the ground and get some irrigation once or twice a week. They are nearly 3 meters tall and flower constantly. So easy to grow here. Pink and white varieties are doing well.

  18. Retired commercial grower, greenhouses . Grow Begonias under lights, 4 plant set-ups with 3, 36″ plant trays……..Summer they get under the trees in the shade. Spray with a copper spray………….Which it seems did not work to good, as one by one each Begonia passed away. I supply a plastic cover with zipper to create humidity for the Begonias, at least the ones that are left. All so grow about 500 cactus, which of course don’t need humidity. They get put out in one of the greenhouses for the summer. W.W.2Guy

  19. Hello I have some begonias that pink flowers , they are in pots on my front porch it rained constantly about 7 times my flowers look like they’re not blooming I just bought them from Home Depot about a week 0r2 ago some look like they’re a little ilI was told to let the pots dry out and they will look better well it stopped raining and I give the begonias a little Morning Sun yet waiting for them to look better what should I do? Should I put some plant food on them?

  20. I have a tuber begonia, it’s name is wedding bouquet, it’s the only one I have ever seen, and has a wonderfull flush of pinky white flowers, however the tuber has grown to approx 15″ in length, will the tuber survive if I cut it in half.
    Thanks John

  21. I have a Maple leaf bagonia. I’m not sure of the clarification. I purchased the plant 2 weels ago and the leaves are dropping. I live in southern California and this time of year temperatures fluctuate from 70 degrees to 90 degrees. The plant was on my norather facing kitchen window. I moved it to my bedroom window facing south. I check the soil and water accordingly. Keeping moist but not wet. Am I doing something wrong or is this plant going into hybornation? I don’t want to loose this plant. Thank you.

  22. I purchased 3 begonia bulbs but only one grew into a plant. They were all in the same pot. what did I do wrong?

  23. I have a dragon wing begonia plant that is a few years old. I have kept it indoors. The branches are long and are bending down. I would like to know how and when to prune it Please.

  24. trying to move begonias from hanging planter to a pot on the ground…broken flower … can I root a new plant from the broken stem with the flower still on the broken stem. Dug up fat bulb and wanting to know how I can divided it for more pots of new flowers? Can the bulb be divided in half it is quite large 5 years old and beautiful leaves. thank you.

  25. Reply to Dee Windust, please do NOT cut a Begonia tuber. I have a friend with one that will just fit into a 18 inch hanging basket. When in full flower it is a two person lift. (not me, I am too wee.) Learn to take cuttings and increase your stock that way. Cut faces are susceptible to disease and bigger tubers give more stems and hence, more flowers.
    Andrew Lothian, Scottish Begonia Society member.


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