Types of begonias: the most popular begonia species & varieties


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

The variety of different species and varieties of begonias is gigantic. We have summarised the most beautiful types of begonias for you.

Peach begonia flowers
We show you the most beautiful begonia species and varieties [Photo: kateo226/ Shutterstock.com]

The tropics are considered the most biodiverse spot on our planet. After all, ancient forests are home to about two-thirds of all known animal and plant species. No wonder, then, that the species-rich genus of begonia (Begonia) also originated there. The genus Begonia has over 1800 different species. In addition, there are varieties and hybrids of the respective species. It is hard to keep track of everything. We will therefore focus on some of the most beautiful types of begonias for you. Begonias can be divided into several smaller groups.

Leaf begonias

These are known as such not because they never bloom but because they are primarily used for their extremely decorative. leaves. These types of begonias are especially good as houseplants.

Polka dot begonia (Begonia maculata)

The intensely dotted leaves of the polka dot begonia immediately catch the eye. The whitish-silvery dots lie in strong contrast to the dark green leaves with the red underside. The habitat of these plants with their magnificent leaf decoration is the rainforest of Brazil. Therefore they need a lot of water and feel comfortable at temperatures around 20 °C all year around.

Eyelash begonia (Begonia bowerae)

The eyelash begonia likewise stands out for its special leaf colouration on. The slightly serrated leaves are not too large but come in a variety of shades. The basic shade is a light green, interspersed with dark green to a brown or black. This creates an intense pattern of different shades of green. It takes its name from the hairiness of the leaves and the stems. This compact plant, about 25 cm high, is native to Mexico and makes an attractive houseplant.

  • ‘Tiger’: This variety has brown patterned leaves and bears white-pink flowers.
  • ‘Rubra’: The leaves of this variety actually appear to be reddish brown but they are interspersed by light leaf veins.
Eyelash begonia plant
A strong leaf pattern and hairs on leaves and stems characterise the eyelash begonia [Photo: Bozhena Melnyk/ Shutterstock.com]

King begonia (Begonia rex)

The king begonia, which is also called leaf begonia, is a pure breeding form, although its ancestors originate from the Asian region. Its dark green leaves are patterned white, pink and purple and a beautiful decoration for your room. However, you should not place the plant in direct sunlight and keep it away from radiators.

  • ‘Helen Lewis’: This time-honoured variety with blackish leaves with light markings in the centre is almost a classic among king begonias.
  • ‘Escargot’: A similar leaf pattern to the cultivar ‘Helen Lewis’ can also be found in ‘Escargot’. However, a significant difference lies in the helical spirals in which the leaf emerges from the stem.
  • ‘Merry Christmas’: The leaves of this variety are pink or almost purple in the centre. Towards the outside, they first become lighter and eventually turn green.

Flower begonias

Although the leaves of these begonias are not quite as impressive as those of the leaf begonias, their flowers are truly magnificent.

Fuchsia begonia (Begonia fuchsioides)

The native Mexican fuchsia begonia bears fuchsia-like drooping flowers in shades of red and pink. But these do not appear until autumn and, if properly overwintered, last until the spring. The plant grows erect and can be overwintered indoors. With age, it begins to lean. For this reason it cuts a beautiful figure in hanging baskets.

Begonia boliviensis

This rather hanging begonia species originates from the mountain forests of the eastern Andes, especially from Bolivia. It has bell-shaped, small flowers and narrow, elongated leaves. It thrives best in partial shade. Although this begonia develops tubers as a survival organ, it is not typically considered to belong to the tuberous begonias.

  • ‘Bonfire’: The flowers of this variety shine in intense red.
  • ‘Summerwings White’: The variety ‘Summerwings White’ boasts pure white flowers.
Red begonia boliviensis flower
Similar to the fuchsia begonia, Begonia boliviensis also bears pendulous bell-shaped flowers [Photo: Tisha Razumovsky/ Shutterstock.com]

Winter hardy begonia species

Begonias can hardly be called hardy. The plants originate from the tropics and subtropics and are therefore not adapted to cold temperatures and frosts. If they are exposed to them, then they die off. Only very few species are considered relatively frost tolerant and can also be overwintered outdoors with a good protection of leaves and foliage.

  • Hardy begonia (Begonia grandis): This species is native to the region west of Beijing and is divided into several subspecies. The best-known is probably Begonia grandis ssp. evansiana. It is excellent as a perennial under woody plants.
  • Begonia panchtharensis: This rather unknown species with very large and deeply lobed leaves also survives frosts. It was discovered a few years ago in the Himalayan mountains in Nepal and has since made it into the plant trade as well.

Learn more about the two frost-tolerant begonia species and their subspecies and varieties here.

Pink hardy begonia flower
The hardy begonia reaches heights of up to 60 cm and can even survive light frosts [Photo: Hiyoman/ Shutterstock.com]

Wax begonia varieties

Wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens) are happy flowering contemporaries right into winter. For all the variety they have to offer, there is something for everyone. The most beautiful varieties probably include the classic wax begonias ‘Ostas H’ and ‘Oreb H Pink’. But this species also has special features to offer, such as the dark-leaved ‘Cocktail’ series, the bicoloured ‘Volumina Rose bicolour’ or the double flowering ‘Doublet’.

We have put together more information for you about wax begonias and their varieties here.

Pink wax begonia flower
The wax begonia is one of the most popular begonia species. It grows only 30 cm high and is versatile [Photo: hikpic/ Shutterstock.com]

Elatior begonias

Elatior begonias (Begonia x hiemalis) are the right flowering begonias for your home. This hybrid group is comfortable around the year at room temperature and produces an abundance of flowers. You are spoiled for choice with the wide range of varieties of this species of begonia. Some of the most beautiful are the white-flowered ‘Clara’, ‘Camilla’ with its pink flowers and the intense red-flowered variety ‘Barkos’. Also worth mentioning are the two varieties ‘Yellow Stone’ and ‘Carneval’, to give a small selection.

Tuberous begonias

Tuberous begonia (Begonia × tuberhybrida) are a group of hybrids of different species of begonias. They are among the most popular begonias and include thirteen groups. The most important feature of these begonias are the tubers that they form as an organ of survival. In the winter months, they withdraw completely, to sprout anew in the spring.

The tuberous begonias, which are often categories under the name “Grandiflora” are qute stunning. They have beautiful large flowers in all imaginable colours:

  • ‘Cordelia’: This variety is characterised by its magnificent white flowers with pink fringe.
  • ‘Majesy’: In bright yellow shine the flowers of the variety ‘Majesy’.
  • ‘Snow Goose’: Pure white like a snow goose – that is how the flowers of ‘Snow Goose’ seem.
Subscribe to the Plantura newsletter