Begonia semperflorens: Wax begonia

Family: Begoniaceae
Common name: Begonia, Wax begonia, Clubbed begonia, Bedding begonia

Semperflorens means ‘ever flowering’ and that will give you an idea why Begonias are essential for your gardens. They come in a wide range of leaf and flower colors and are quite hardy. Begonias grow to a height of about 12-18 inches with a hairy, succulent stem and beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

The leaves are about 6 cms in diameter, and range in color from green to reddish-brown or even variegated. They are glossy and have wavy or toothed margins, and are so pretty that the plant looks beautiful even without the flowers.

The flowers could be white, pink, dark pink, yellow or red. Most flowers look like they have only 2 petals. But Begonia flowers don’t have distinguishable petals and sepals, and so they are together called tepals.

These colorful tepals are folded together before the flowers blooms so that they look like a single rounded structure. When the flowers open, the tepals open out fully revealing the distinct yellow anthers or stigma, depending on whether it’s a male flower or female flower.

The flowers do not contain any nectar, but butterflies and bees are attracted to their brilliant colors, thus helping in pollination. Begonias also produce small winged fruits that split open to release the seeds.

These plants can survive in indirect sunlight, and can be grown as indoor plants, but they will flower less when indoors. They need regular watering but be careful not to over-water, since they are essentially succulents and this could lead to root rot. Fertilization once in 3 weeks, and acidic, well-drained soil can help keep the plant healthy and thriving.

Propagation is from seeds or stem cuttings, which root quite easily.

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