Begonias are an attractive flower that can be used in containers, baskets or bedding schemes and provide a continuous display all summer and until the first frosts. They are easy to grow and there are varieties to choose from that will suit most garden's requirements.

Growing begonias:

Begonias can be grown in full sun or partial shade but there are different sorts of begonia and each of these requires different growing conditions and treatment. The begonias you can grow or buy are usually categorized as tuberous begonia, hardy begonia and semperflorens begonia.

Tuberous begonias are usually ideally suited to growing in containers or in hanging baskets. It is these begonias that are popular with gardeners for their bright colours and long flowering season. Tubers should be started inside at around 18 degrees Celsius in March or April or can be bought as bedding plants which can be hardened off and planted out as soon as all risk of frost has passed. For best results, they should be fed every week with a high potassium plant feed. You should water well during dry periods but should take care not to wet the foliage and to water only at the roots.

If you wish to keep the dry tubers and not simply buy new plants the following year then you should lift them before the first frost and store in slightly moist sand or soil in a frost free shed, ideally at around 7 degrees Celsius. Water occasionally to prevent shrivelling.

Hardy begonias can be an exotic addition to a shady garden bed. The hardiest of these plants are hardy down to around 0 degrees Celsius and tubers can actually stay in the ground all year round in particularly warm and sheltered spots in southern areas, though even there they will require some mulch as extra protection against the cold.

Semperflorens begonia are fibrous-rooted and though they are technically a tender perennial, they are treated usually as an annual. This is one of the few bedding plants that is happy in partial shade rather than full sun so could be a good choice for that slightly problematic shady spot in your garden.

Stems and foliage of begonias in general can be brittle so if they are being grown for show then you may wish to use canes to support them.

Why grow begonias in the garden?

Begonia's are a bright and attractive flower which shows plenty of variety between its various cultivars. These blooms are delightful both in the garden and as cut flowers in the house. They are fairly easy to grow and varieties which do well in partial shade could be a great solution for a partially shady area in your garden where few other bedding plants will thrive.

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