Beloved Begonias

July 27, 2016 morning garden 031
Beloved Begonias,
Bejeweled, bold;
Bewildering in their variety,
Exotic,  erotic, esoteric, ephemeral
Phenomenally fantastic;
Tropical travelers,
Insidiously intrepid.
Comforting companions,
Hairy, huge and hard to find;
Beautiful Begonias!
Woodland Gnome 2016

July 26, 2016 leaves 042


Bountiful Begonias

Begonia boliviensis 'Bossa Nova White'

Begonia boliviensis ‘Bossa Nova White’


My love affair with Begonias continues. 

Grown for foliage or for flowers, they remain one of my favorite plants for every season of the year.

A few years back, a new Begonia, Begonia boliviensis came to market.  These sturdy tender perennials continually cover themselves in bright flowers and can take full sun.  Large and sturdy, they make quite a show in a basket or large pot.


June 5, 2015 flowers 006


Like so many Begonias, they can not abide wet soil.  The top half inch or so of their soil must be allowed to dry between waterings, or the stems will rot at the soil line.  Understanding that, and making sure they have good drainage, these are easy plants to grow.

Water in the morning, feed them regularly, prevent them from ever drying out completely, and you will have a gorgeous floral display through the entire season. These Begonias will drop spent blooms, so deadheading isn’t needed.

The early B. boliviensis cultivars appeared in shades of red and reddish orange.


Begonia boliviensis in a basket with Begonia richmondensis last summer

Begonia boliviensis in a basket with Begonia richmondensis last summer


But last season, a new group, known as the B. boliviensis “Bossa Nova” came available.  I’ve been trying to track these down in a garden center or online for months.  And, miraculously, I happened upon them while visiting The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond a few weeks ago.  I was thrilled, and picked up two B. “Bossa Nova White” on the spot.

B. “Bossa Nova” are available in white, pink, red and orange.  Here is what Greenhouse Product News has to say about them:

“Bossa Nova, a Begonia boliviensis introduced this spring from Floranova, is a fantastic new option for use in dramatic hanging baskets, colorful combination planters and a variety of other applications where continuous color-power is needed all season long. Bossa Nova exhibits excellent branching on a tidy, yet abundant habit, which makes it an easy, clean and profitable alternative to vegetative varieties.

Naturally branching, with short internodes, Bossa Nova easily fills out smaller pots in the early stages of growth, allowing for ease of transport, quicker finishing times and fewer plugs per pot. As it matures, Bossa Nova trails into an impressive, cascading plant, covered entirely with 2-inch, bell-shaped flowers, which provide continuous color. It thrives in a variety of climates, including high heat, and enjoys full sun to partial shade.

Bossa Nova has performed with great success in university and grower trials for the past two years and has proven to have fantastic, lasting garden performance. Success can be achieved almost nationwide…


June 2, 2015 pots 007~

The plants I bought in May have already doubled in size, and have remained in bloom continuously.  Both receive several hours of direct sun each day, and have stood up to our heat without so much as a droop or wilt.

On a side note, the Begonia boliviensis I planted in a hanging basket a few years ago returned this year, even though it died down in the autumn.


This basket of mixed Begonias and fern hangs in a Dogwood in partial shade. These Begonias are fairly sun tolerant, but we've still had some burned leaves during these last few very hot weeks. This basket needs daily watering when there is no rain.

This basket is filled with Begonia richmondensis, and the Begonia boliviensis grows out of  the left side.  See the flowers which look quite different in red?


I have a Begonia richmondensis in the basket, which overwintered in the garage.  Several weeks after moving the basket back outside, new sprouts appeared from the B. boliviensis.  It is an orangey red, not my favorite color in a Begonia, but it grows well in our climate with attractive foliage.

If your idea of Begonias begins and ends with the little B. semperflorens offered in six packs at every grocery and hardware store each spring, you have no idea the range and beauty of this genus.  I will show some of my favorite Begonia plants, and discuss their culture, over the next few weeks.  These are not easy to find.  It is always a challenge to find the best varieties; but a it is worthwhile to seek them out and to grow them well.


July 4, 2014 After Arthur 143


Woodland Gnome 2015


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