There are more than a thousand species of Begonia found growing wild all over the world especially in the tropics and subtropics. One of the largest genus in the plant kingdom, begonias come in various forms and sizes. Some popular varieties are the smaller begonias used as bedding plants. They promise a continuous supply of flowers throughout summer. Some varieties of begonias are in demand for their variegated and colored foliage. Tuberous begonias are larger, more voluptuous and glamorous than their other cousins, used mainly as potted plants or in floral displays. These plants are meant to catch the onlooker’s eye…and they certainly do !
Tuberous begonias are available in mostly all shades of red, orange, pink, yellow and white : in combinations, as picotees from dark crimson to the palest pinks, from bright orange to the palest peach and from bright yellow to the palest cream to pure white. A shade of blue in these plants has not yet been developed, but the day is not far away when we may see blue begonias.
The plant forms a fat ugly tuber at its base when it goes into dormancy in winter. This acts as a storage organ for food necessary to kick start growth on the onset of the next summer. Surprisingly, the plants do not catch unnecessary attention from pests or fungi as much as other summer flowers. This makes them relatively easy maintenance plants. Tubers grow in size every year and are viable over several years. Many of the begonias with me are over five years old and they are still giving me the same display of color and beauty every summer.
Growing tuberous begonias is very easy. Tubers are available at relatively low prices from garden centers. Once these are sown in a suitable potting mix, the plant springs into action. One to many shoots spring from the growing points on a tuber and continue tirelessly till the end of the season. As long as these plants are sheltered from frost, they do not complain much. Plants are happy in the sun or in shade. Flowering usually takes in about four to five weeks since planting. An occasional feed and regular watering is recommended.
The most popular displays of these beauty queens are in containers. The cascading varieties planted in hanging baskets or the ascending plants in individual pots guarantee a riot of color throughout summer.
From a big fat tuber to a picture of color and beauty…truly, ugly ducklings growing into swans..!!