A scarlet red begonia

How to grow begonias

Discover how to grow colourful begonias, with this step-by-step Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Begonias are flamboyant, tender perennials used in bedding, pot and hanging basket displays. There are many types of begonia to grow, from popular tuberous begonias, fibrous-rooted types and hanging begonias, which are ideal for hanging baskets. Larger flowered types are often grown as specimen house plants, as are rex begonias, which have impressive foliage.

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All begonia foliage is varied and attractive, and the flowers are long lasting.

How to grow begonias

Grow begonias in peat-feee, multi-purpose compost in dappled sunshine to partial shade. Tuberous begonias  are perfect for growing in pots, while fibrous rooted types are best for bedding displays and hanging begonias are best suited to hanging basket displays. Water regularly and feed weekly with a high potash fertiliser like tomato feed. In autumn, dig up tuberous begonias and store in a cool, frost-free spot for winter. Throw fibrous-rooted and hanging types on the compost heap.

More on growing begonias:


Where to plant begonias

How to grow begonias - begonia with pink-red flowers
How to grow begonias – begonia with pink-red flowers

Begonias are ideal for growing in pots and hanging baskets or can go straight into flower borders. Tuberous begonias have fairly brittle stems and heavy flowers, so grow them in a sheltered spot. Flowers will go over very quickly if they’re too hot.

Begonias grow well in sun or shade – avoid south-facing spots as the foliage can burn in direct sunlight. When growing begonias in a greenhouse, shading may be required.

Fibrous rooted begonias can be packed quite tightly into mixed summer displays of other bedding plants.


How to plant begonias

How to grow begonias - planting begonia tubers
How to grow begonias – planting begonia tubers

Buy tuberous and fibrous-rooted begonias in March and plant them into individual pots. Ensure you completely cover tubers with compost. Other types can be bought as pot-grown plants or plugs. Grow all types on in a greenhouse and harden off after all risk of frost has passed.


How to care for begonias

How to grow begonias - caring for begonias
How to grow begonias – caring for begonias

Keep plants well watered but allow the soil to dry out between waterings – this is especially important for tuberous begonias, which can rot in waterlogged soil.

Feed tuberous begonias weekly with tomato feed in summer, especially pot-grown plants. Alternatively, add a slow-release fertiliser pellet to the compost when planting. Never feed tuberous begonias into September as plants should be encouraged to slow down for the year. From October, reduce watering and remove flowers so the plants to put energy back into the tuber. Once the foliage has been blackened by frost, life the plants. Remove the compost from each tuber, cut the stem back to about 6cm and store in a dark, cool, frost-free place until March.

Fibrous-rooted and hanging begonias tend to be grown as annuals. Feed weekly in summer and dig them up and compost them when they’ve finished flowering.


How to propagate begonias

How to grow begonias - propagating begonias
How to grow begonias – propagating begonias

Tuberous begonias don’t come true from seed so propagation by cuttings is recommended. In March or April pull new shoots that form on the tubers away with your fingers. Pot them up into individual pots and put them in a heated propagator. Place the propagator in a shaded spot and expect to see signs of growth within four weeks.

Fibrous-rooted begonias can be grown from seed in early spring. Sow seeds onto moist, seed or multi-purpose compost. They need light to germinate so don’t cover them. Place in a propagator with a lid or cover pots with a clear plastic bag or cling film to retain humidity.


Growing begonias: problem solving

How to grow begonias - begonias growing in a hanging basket
How to grow begonias – begonias growing in a hanging basket

Powdery mildew can be a problem for begonias from May – especially for yellow-flowering types. This fungal disease spreads by spores, so good hygiene should reduce the chances of attack. To prevent the problem space plants out well and ventilate greenhouses. Some gardeners spray plants with a systemic fungicide in May to prevent the problem.

 Vine weevil can be a problem with pot-grown begonias.

Find out how to prevent begonias and other bedding plants from becoming leggy, in our Quick Tips video:


Begonia varieties to try

How to grow begonias - Begonia 'Inferno'
How to grow begonias – Begonia ‘Inferno’
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  • BegoniaInferno’ (pictured) – provides months of bright orange, weather-resistant flowers
  • Begonia x tuberhybrida ‘Giant Picotee Mixed’ – tender perennial with ruffled pink, apricot or yellow flowers from July to October. Height 30cm
  • Begonia ‘Lou-Anne’ – tender perennial with pendula pale-pink flowers from July to October. Ideal for baskets
  • Begonia ‘Moulin Rouge’ – tender perennial. Giant, crimson-red blooms from July to October measuring 15cm in diameter
  • Begonia rex – grown for its large silver and green foliage that has a rusty brown underside. Tender so needs to be grown as a house plant. Height 40cm
  • Begonia semperflorens – tender perennials grown as annuals. Small plants with fibrous roots ideal for summer bedding displays. Pink and white flowers. Leathery, shiny green leave. Height 15cm