Facts about the Begonia Semperflorens
A colorful and beautifully intricate flower, the begonia semperflorens is one that has gained quite a popular following among home gardeners. With over 1,300 species of the begonia and numerous hybrid versions, there is a begonia favorite for everyone.
Better known as the wax begonia, few can resist the lovely presentation that this plant offers. The common name of “wax” begonia has derived from the appearance and feel of the leaves; a waxy, fibrous type leaf and succulent stems give the begonia a waxy impression. It can be grown as a houseplant or an outdoor garden plant as long as specific needs of the begonia are addressed. They are considered to be “tender” perennials, which simply means that great care and maintenance must be provided as well as the ideal conditions in order for the plant to behave in a perennial manner. Most gardeners grow them as annuals, especially when growing them outdoors in flower gardens.
It is the overall beauty of the plant that entices most to start growing these plants. The exact appearance is dependent on the variety of begonia semperflorens grown. Foliage of the plants can range in color from deep green to bronze and even variegated shades. The blossoms can provide an array of rainbow colors as well; pure brilliant white, delicate pink and dark rose are common. Flowers are simple and lovely as single blossoms, but even more so on plants that feature double blooms.
Growing wax begonias can be done by beginners or veteran gardeners. They can be grown by seed by the adventurous floriculturist; the seeds are extremely fine and must be sown indoors approximately four to five months before the final spring frost takes place. Light is a strict requirement for the seeds to germinate; a process that can take up to 20 days. Due to the overall length of time to grow the plant from seed, most gardeners choose to propagate the wax begonia through cuttings or to simply purchase bedding plants. Propagating is as easy as cutting a growth from an existing begonia plant, dip the cut end into a rooting hormone and then place the cutting into a soilless mixture combined with perlite at a proportion of 60/40 and water from the bottom. They should be kept moist while the roots are developing, and placed in an area that receives light sun.
Once the plant has become established and shows growth, it can be transplanted into a favorite houseplant potting mix or placed outdoors. Begonias do best in light shade, although there are varieties that thrive in full shade. Be sure to become familiar with the light requirements of the begonia you are planting; if the plant needs light shade and is placed in an area that receives no sun whatsoever will tend to grow into leggy stems. It will also fail to produce good floral display.
Size of the wax begonias also varies. There are dwarf varieties that do splendidly in the forefront of a flower bed, reaching only about 6” in height. While small in size, the plant performs very well in flowering. Other varieties will grow to nicely rounded mounds up to a foot in height. Regular watering will help the variety planted achieve its optimal growth; a mister placed in the garden will provide even better results since begonias enjoy a humid environment.
A popular choice among gardeners for a showy floral and foliage display is the begonia semperflorens. Lovely and fresh as a houseplant, or vibrant and bright as landscape plants in the floral garden, the wax begonia will provide beauty in either venue.