Tuberous begonias are pretty plants with double blossoms reminiscent of camellia flowers or even mini roses. They grow well in containers and can make a colorful addition to your houseplant collection. Though they are actually perennials that grow from tubers, they are often grown as annuals. Here’s a little known fact: Tuberous begonia blossoms are edible. They have an acidic, sour, lemon-like flavor. If you’re going to use them as a garnish, be sure the plants have been grown without pesticides.
Tuberous begonias feature flowers available in almost every color, except blue and purple. The plants bloom with both female and male flowers on the same plant. The female blossoms appear first, often single petals with a row of exposed flower parts. Then male flowers begin; they are showy and have hidden flower parts. Tuberous begonias bloom all season long, providing a constant display of color. They require little deadheading as they naturally drop their spent blossoms. This can cause a messy situation, especially in hanging baskets when the debris litters the ground below, so it's best to situation these plants where this won't be a problem.
Tuberous Begonia Care Must-Knows
As their name implies, tuberous begonias grow from a large tuber, which is a rootlike storage organ that is technically stem tissue. It is important that the plants dry out a bit between watering, otherwise the tubers are susceptible to rot. This also makes the plants less than ideal for growing in the ground because they prefer the well-drained soil of potting mix in containers. Their semi-weeping habit favors planting in a hanging basket so the branches spill over the sides. Tuberous begonias are considered "heavy feeders," meaning they need regular fertilizer to sustain their constant blooming. Apply a slow-release fertilizer along with an occasional dose of liquid fertilizer throughout the summer so the plant can put on the best display of blossoms.
Tuberous begonias generally do best in morning sun and afternoon shade. They are able to handle fairly dense shade with dappled sunlight. Too much sun causes leaf scorching and can damage the tender petals of the plant. Being native to high altitude areas with cooler climates, they perform best with cool nights and shelter from the hot summer weather.
Like most plants that have some sort of underground storage system, tuberous begonias usually need a dormant period to encourage flowering. They typically enter dormancy in the fall and winter. During the dormant period, it is important to keep the soil dry because moisture will encourage rot and pests. As the soil warms up in spring, growth will typically emerge from the tuber.
If you are growing tuberous begonias in the ground, allow these plants to grow as long as possible up to the first frost. At this point, dig up the tubers with a small amount of soil around them and allow to dry in a sheltered location like a garage or shed. Once fully dried and after the stems have broken off, remove any remaining soil from the tuber and store in a cool, dry location until spring.
More Varieties of Tuberous Begonia
Begonia 'Go Go Yellow' bears big yellow blooms against green foliage. It grows about 1 foot tall and produces a lot of flowers.
Begonia 'Nonstop Bright Rose' bears glowing rose-pink flowers over a mounding plant with green foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and wide.
Begonia 'Nonstop Deep Red' bears rich red blooms against rich green foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and wide.
Begonia 'Nonstop Mocca White' bears pure-white flowers on chocolate-brown foliage. It grows 12 inches tall and wide.
Begonia 'Nonstop Fire' is a new variety with blooms in vibrant shades of yellow, gold, orange, and red. The 4-inch-wide flowers contrast nicely against the deep green foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and wide.
Begonia 'Nonstop Deep Rose' bears rich rose-pink flowers over a mounding plant with green foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and wide.
Begonia 'Nonstop Yellow' bears lovely bright yellow blossoms over rich green foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and wide.
Begonia 'Solenia Cherry' has 3-inch-wide fully double red blooms. It grows 10-12 inches tall and wide, and its compact mounded habit suits it well to growing in containers.
Begonia 'Nonstop Mocca Deep Orange' combines intensely orange 4-inch-wide blooms with chocolate-brown leaves on compact mounded plants. It grows 12 inches tall and wide.