Begonias captured my heart years ago, when I tended my first Begonia semperflorens with variegated leaves in a hanging basket by my bedroom window. I was still a teen, but had already assembled a garden of potted plants in my bedroom, and that lovely Begonia was one of my favorites.
The charm of Begonia semperflorens, known as ‘wax leaf’ Begonias for their beautiful, shiny leaves, is that they are always flowering. New leaves and flower buds tend to emerge simultaneously on these generous, and easy to grow plants. These Begonias propagate easily from stem cuttings in a glass of water. If a branch breaks off, root it! With their extensive fibrous root systems, most of these Begonias remain rounded in form and of manageable size. No five foot canes reaching for the sky with these beauties!
Garden centers are full of wax leaf Begonias in May. But most have either solid apple green leaves, or dark bronze leaves. I am always charmed to find them with variegated leaves, as I did earlier this week at a favorite local garden center. I have tucked this one into a cobalt blue pot already filled with a fading Viola, spring bulbs and a creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia.
Out came the Viola and half of the creeping Jenny, (which now grows elsewhere….) and in went the Begonia. The Muscari leaves will die down soon enough, and the bright chartreuse creeping Jenny will illuminate this shady spot, along with the Begonia from now until frost. Sadly, the bright leaves of the native Mayapples will fade by late June; but aren’t they fun, now?
This little scene in a sheltered, shady spot by our drive makes me smile when I see it. All it will need for the next several months will be water and love to keep it going strong. ( It got a shower of Osmacote fertilizer as I planted, and I’ll water with a bit of dilute seaweed/fish emulsion every few weeks to feed the soil.)
The Begonia and creeping Jenny will provide a bit of nearly care-free horticultural sunshine for the rest of the season, and can come indoors in autumn to continue blooming and growing through the winter months, as well. These Begonias will also over winter as rooted cuttings. Alternatively, root cuttings and keep them in small pots through late winter, ready to plant out once the danger of frost has passed next spring. Wax Begonias are generous plants, indeed.