Planting begonias: when, where & how


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

With a wide selection of different begonias, there is something for everyone. Here you can learn what to consider when planting begonias.

A potted begonia plant
Begonias can be grown in pots [Photo: Pirunpon/]

Begonias (Begonia) are incredibly versatile: with their colourful flowers they bring summer freshness to your home or decorate the shady corners of your garden. Some of the plants even love full sun and can make your balcony shine. And to ensure that these tropical beauties thrive optimally in your home, the right planting is the first step.

Begonias: origin and characteristics

Begonias largely originate from the rainforests and mountain forests of the tropics and subtropics. The hot tropical sun is intercepted above them by the large leafy canopies of the trees. There, in the lower layer of the forest, on the mighty branches of old trees or on rocks and water bodies, the strikingly crooked leaves of begonias blend into the lush green of the vegetation. It is humid there all year around and temperatures drop a little lower more often only in the mountain forests. Under these conditions, the begonia feels comfortable. So, to encourage a begonia to bloom magnificently, you should do everything possible to make the plant feel at home.

Even when purchasing a begonia you can pay attention to some things to increase the chances of success.

A tropical forest scenery
Most begonias are at home in the humid forests of the tropics and subtropics [Photo: Tearsze2712/]

When to plant begonias?

If you want to put your begonia outdoors, it is best not to do so before May 16. After all, despite the fact that they are perennial, begonias planted outdoors, except for a few species, do not survive the local winter. Even the so-called wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens) is not frost tolerant. So it is better to wait for the last frost to pass before planting these delicate plants in the ground. So, to bring the plants through the winter, you need to dig them up again in autumn before the first frost. The only exception here is the hardy begonia (Begonia grandis var. evisiana), which can survive sub-zero temperatures in sheltered locations, making it one of the winter-hardy begonias.

The right place for planting begonias

Begonias include an incredible variety of species. No wonder, then, that the demands on the location are also diverse. The soil or substrate should be slightly acidic and have a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Since many begonias bloom abundantly, they need sufficient nutrient-rich substrate. Humus-rich garden soil with a good addition of compost is quite in line with the wishes of the plants. As for light, begonias like it bright but not too sunny. They originate from tropical forests, where the sun shines more intensely but the plants are protected from strong solar radiation. Therefore, a location in partial shade or even partial shade is just right. You can also place the plants under trees or shrubs to protect them from the blazing sun. Wax begonias are the only exception here: they thrive splendidly even in direct sunlight without suffering any damage. It is a good thing because this makes them ideal for sunny balconies and terraces without shade. In fact, with an adequate water supply, they become even more beautiful in the sun than in partial shade or shade.

Begonia plants growing in shade
For the most part, begonias prefer rather shady spots [Photo: Ancha Chiangmai/]

Planting begonias: step-by-step

You can plant out begonias in your garden, in containers, or also cultivate them as houseplants. If you want to plant them outdoors, choose a cloudy day for it. If you have not overwintered the plants indoors, they have probably been stored in large greenhouses. The plants will consequently not be used to direct sunlight. In the midday sun, they quickly get sunburned. Wax begonias, which are to be planted in the sun, can first be placed outdoors in the shade for a few days, where the sun rays will already be stronger than indoors.

For planting begonias use nutrient and humus-rich garden soil, ideally enriched with a good portion of compost. Planted-out begonias will also benefit if you add some good compost to the plant hole before you put the plant in. If you put the plant in a tub or pot, be sure that it has a drainage hole for excess water. After planting or potting, you should lightly press the soil around the begonia so that it stands securely. Now all you need to do is water.

Begonias planted with space between
Leave about 20 cm between each plant so that they can develop into a healthy bed of flowers [Photo: Nancy Salmon/]


After planting, the begonias are well supplied with nutrients from the fresh soil for the first few weeks. Do not start fertilising again for at least two weeks. The plants will naturally still be thirsty and should be watered regularly. You can learn everything about how to take proper care of begonias here.

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