Wax begonias: professional tips for planting & caring for these everbloomers
Wax begonias have some peculiarities in comparison with their sisters, normal begonias. We show what you need to know about planting and caring for wax begonias.
Have you ever looked closely at the flowers of the wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens)? Then you may have noticed that not all flowers look the same. Begonias do not like too much closeness and separate male and female elements from each other to be on the safe side. Thus, some flowers have only male stamens, while the other flowers have only female pistils. But that is not the only thing that makes wax begonias interesting contemporaries. They still have a few more surprises.
Wax begonias: how they get their names
The “wax begonia” gets its name from its thick and waxy leaves. Yet this feature does not make them any less sensitive to But in fact, wax begonias are extremely sensitive to frost. They would hardly survive an outdoor winter in Central Europe. So the name is reminiscent of succulent plants. So what would be a more appropriate name? The scientific name Begonia semperflorens sums it up quite well: it can be translated as “ever-flowering begonia”. And indeed – once the wax begonia has begun to bloom in May, it does not want to stop. It will not stop even when placed in a nice bright spot over winter. Unfortunately, the numerous small flowers produce very little nectar and pollen and are therefore of little use to pollinators. Wax begonias, or bedding begonias, are upright and richly branched plants. Their bushy growth is adorned by the medium to dark green leaves. But dark-leaved varieties are also available.
Wax begonias: features and characteristics
The well-known wax begonias actually originate from South America. However, they do not exist in the wild form because they are a cultivated hybrid of Begonia cucullata var. hookeri and Begonia schmidtiana. With countless varieties and their white, pink or red flowers, they have conquered the hearts of gardeners and the gardens of Europe with ease. Even the leaves differ in colour, depending on the variety. They frequently come not only in shades of green but also beautiful red and bronze coloured leaves are not uncommon. However, it is often forgotten that wax begonias look good not only in the flower bed. It is often forgotten, however, that the wax begonia does not only look good in the bed. On the plate, its leaves and small flowers not only delight the observer, but also spoil him with a fresh, lemony aroma. So if you want to serve your guests something special, the wax begonia flowers are a wonderful enrichment for the salad.
If you prefer to use the plant for decorative purposes, there are numerous possibilities, as it not only looks good in beds and borders, but also on balconies and in hanging baskets. With a maximum height of 30 centimetres, you will find enough space even in small gardens.
The most beautiful varieties
Everyone has a slightly different taste of what the perfect wax begonia should look like. Over the years, countless varieties have developed. The variety ranges from simple, unfilled, small flowers to filled or bicoloured ones. You also have freedom of choice when it comes to the colour of the foliage. Not only green-leaved varieties are available, but also varieties with dark or even bronze foliage.
- ‘Ostas H’: This variety bears small white flowers with numerous yellow stamens and pistils. Its foliage is green in colour.
- ‘Oreb H Pink’: The variety ‘Oreb H Pink’ also has green foliage. As the name suggests, however, its flowers are not white but intensely pink.
- ‘Cocktail’: This group of varieties surprises with dark foliage. The names of the associated varieties are those of alcoholic drinks. Thus the different varieties ‘Rum’, ‘Whisky’ or ‘Gin’ show various shades of red, white and pink.
- ‘Volumia Rose bicolor’: This variety comes in two colours. Its white flowers are decorated with a wonderful pink fringe and really come into their own. The foliage of this variety is green.
- ‘Doublet’: Wax begonias in this series are particularly beautiful because of their double flowers. They are available in all colours and can have both bronze and green foliage.
Planting wax begonias
Do not plant out the flowering wax begonias until mid-May, when the last frosts are over. Then you can be sure that no late frosts will endanger your plant. If you keep a distance of about 20 centimetres between the individual plants, you can plant veritable seas of flowers. With a skilful combination of different flower colours, you can even develop patterns and motifs. As wax begonias flower throughout the summer half-year and like it sunny, they are also popular for planting on graves. You can find detailed instructions for planting begonias here.
Wax begonias are uncomplicated and easy to handle. The only thing you should be careful about is touching them, because the fleshy leaves and shoots break easily. Keep the plants moist, but prevent waterlogging. It is best to always wait until the soil above ground has dried out before watering again. For fertilising, it is sufficient to give the plant a portion of compost, manure or slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Flower Food in spring at planting time.
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Overwintering wax begonias
Although the tropical plants are usually planted as annuals here because of their sensitivity to frost, there is nothing to be said against overwintering them in the warm. It is a pity for the plant, the resources and the money that would otherwise be lost. Besides, wax begonias flower even during the cold months when overwintered in warm conditions. Simply dig up the plant’s root balls and place them in a pot. Now they can be optimally overwintered at around 16 to 20 °C, for example in a bright stairwell.
Alternatively, you can cut the plants down to a few centimetres in autumn, place the root balls in a box with slightly moist soil and overwinter them in a frost-free but cool cellar. Only in March should you then move the plants into the light and start watering them again.