Growing Begonias – The Showy Houseplant with Amazing Flowers and Leaves

Begonias are a very popular plant worldwide. They are used as bedding plants and can also be grown as indoor plants. There are lots of different leaf types, colors and flower formations. Growing begonias is a little bit of a challenge but you should do fine as long as you follow a few tips.Begonias are very popular worldwide. The flower in the shade outdoors and are easy to grow as indoor plants. The flowers on them are amazing!

Tips for Growing Begonias.

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Tuberous begonias are native to the Andes Mountains of South America. The climate is humid and has cool night temperatures. This gives us an idea as to their care. They are a bit finicky to grow but well worth the effort. Bedding begonias are more commonly found and quite easy to grow.

If you love to grow flowering houseplants, tuberous begonias are one of the showiest of indoor plants, both for their flowers and also their pretty leaves.

Types of plants

There are basically two types of begonias. Some are grown from seeds and the others are grown from tubers.  Seed started begonias tend to be small and are a bit harder to grow indoors. They are often used as bedding plants in outside borders.

Common bedding begonias

Begonias grown from tubers are more tolerant indoors and grow into larger plants.  Both types of begonias come in a wide variety of colors from white through to pink, purple, yellow and red. There are over 1,000 varieties of tuberous begonia’s which can be divided into 2 different categories; upright or hanging.double flower tuberous begonia

Light requirements

The fact that begonias like shade outdoors makes them ideal for growing inside.  If you do plant them outdoors, be sure to avoid direct sunlight. Indoors place them near a window that gets bright filtered light. Early morning sun in an east facing window works well.  They also grow well indoors under grow lights. All sorts of containers will work for indoor begonias, even old collanders!Potted tuberous begonia

Soil, Moisture and Fertilization


Moisture Needs

Begonias are great for terrariums

Photo credit Pinterest

Begonias like to dry out a bit between watering.  Like most other plants that don’t like heavy watering, just let the plant dry out to down about the first finger joint when inserted into the soil. If it is dry there, feel free to water. Because of their humidity needs, begonias are ideal for growing indoors in terrariums.  

Soil Requirements

peat moss

Photo credit Wilkimedia Commons

A well draining soil mix is a must.  Begonias do not like wet feet and will easily drop leaves if they are over watered. (This also makes them susceptible to fungal diseases.) A good mix of soil is 2/3 peat moss and 1/3 potting mixture. (soil free is best)  Outdoors, growing begonias means adding lots of organic matter to the soil. Begonias benefit from an acidic soil, which the peat moss gives it. Adding some used coffee grounds to the soil will work wonders for begonias.


A balanced fertilizer with a 20-20-20 ratio is best. It will nurture both the leaves and the flowers. Liquid fertilizer in your watering can works well for indoor plants.

Leaves and Flowers

Leaf Formation

The leaves of begonias have almost as much interest as the flowers do.  The common outdoor type of begonia (also called Ice Begonias) have glossy, small leaves. Tuberous begonias have more interesting leaves.

Begonias have a tendency to become leggy. Pinch the tip of branches to promote a bushier growth. tuberous begonia leaves

Many tuberous begonias are grown FOR their leaves.  Unlike the shiny leaves of bedding ice begonias, most tuberous begonias have slightly fuzzy or patterned leaves. Some, like the Dragon Wing Begonia is very large and light green with speckles on it. Sizes of the leaves can range from ½ inch to 1 foot!Dragon wing begonia

Others, like the Rex Begonia, are grown for the dramatic color that the leaves have.  Flowers are sometimes less of factor in these plants, although all do flower.Red Kiss Rex Begonia

And the Iron Cross begonia has a Majestic leaf pattern with a cross design. Who cares what the flower looks like when you have a leaf like this?

Iron cross begonia

Photo credit Wikimedia Commons

Flower Types

The sky is the limit with the beauty of begonia flowers. There are single flowers, and doubles. Plants are one color or have more than one color in the blooms.  Some are solid and others have rimmed edges.  Many are straight edges and others are frilly.  Whatever the flower type, they all have one thing in common – They are stunningly edged begonia flower

The flowers can sit low atop the plants on some varieties, like bedding plants. On others, the flowers can be up to 8 inch, very showy, and will bloom from summer to fall. One of their greatest attributes outdoors is that they will bloom in the shade.tuberous begonia flowers

Tuberous begonia flowers are often held up on very tall stalks that sit above the leaves so that both are shown to their best advantage. Most begonias are self cleaning and don’t require deadheading.. 

Hanging basket begonia

Photo credit Amazon

Some tuberous begonia varieties have a cascading habit that makes them ideal for hanging baskets.


All types of begonias are considered annuals outdoors, unless you live in very warm climates.  Indoors they will grow as a perennial and come back year after year. I have begonias growing outside in the summer, and then in the fall I either take cuttings or bring the whole plant indoors to use as a house plant. They do have a dormancy period in the winter months, so go light on watering during this time.  They can even be left with no water in a non freezing spot for the winter if you wish.Begonia sizemoreae

You can also dig up the begonia tubers and bring them indoors for the winter. Let them dry out and store them in a cool place covered in peat moss until you are ready to plant again in the spring. 

Begonias like the heat both indoors and out.  The ideal temperature for them is 72º F is ideal, but slightly higher or lower temperatures are fine, too. 


Propagate begonias by taking cuttings in the spring. Plants can also be divided when they are dormant, or when the shoots of plants are still small. To take cuttings, slice along the stem of a begonia and remove any flowers. This piece of plant below will make several new plants.  Just dip the tips of the stems in rooting powder and place in a light seed starting mix. Roots will form in a few weeks and growth in a few more. The white lines in the photo below show where to make cuts and the pink lines show what to discard.cuttings of begonias


Pests are not so much of a problem for indoor begonia plants but some care is needed for those grown outdoors. Mealy bugs is the most common pest found indoors.  A Q tip dipped in rubbing alcohol will take care of them easily.  When growing begonias outdoors, use egg shells as a barrier for slugs and snails by placing them around the base of the plants.Egg shells round begonias make great slug and snail barriers.

Begonia plants are susceptible to various forms of fungi and bacteria. The right humidity and good airflow is essential to maintaining healthy plants.

Follow these growing tips for begonias and you will end up with a showcase of amazing flowers and leaves both indoors and out.

What luck have you had growing begonias?  Did you find them difficult to grow?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  19 comments for “Growing Begonias – The Showy Houseplant with Amazing Flowers and Leaves

  1. Maurice Goodman
    05/28/2018 at 9:55 pm

    I kept my double red tuberous begonia in the house all winter. It lost its flowers but continued to grow foliage. Want to return it outdoors on the porch where it thrived last summer. How can I get it to start flowering again?

    • Carol
      05/29/2018 at 10:08 am

      Hi Maurice. Begonias will often stop flowering if they are kept indoors. They need a reasonable amount of light. Over fertilizing can also cause the plant to grow foliage instead of flowers. Try giving it a bit more light (gradually increase it, or the leaves will burn.) A time release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer for flowering plants is the best. Carol

  2. Steven Conley
    08/09/2018 at 12:50 pm

    I live in Redding, CA which can stay at 110 for a week to 10 days. I have a screened in patio with a drip system of sprayers. The system comes on every other day when the temperature is over 100. The plants are in the shade, and planted in pots with potting soil. Any sun they may get would be early morning. This year I have not added any fertilizer to the pots-only what came with the potting soil. The plants are always large, but the flowers are
    disappointing. Is it the verity of begonia, or is there a fertilizer that can help increase the flower size? Thanks for any suggestions.

    • Carol
      08/09/2018 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Steven. Flower size can really vary on begonias. The common begonia annual has 1 inch or smaller flowers. Tuberous begonias might grow to up to 2 inches in size and angel wing begonias have attractive big leaves but 1/2 inch flowers.

      Do you have a photo? Carol

      • Andy
        11/09/2020 at 2:23 am

        Hello Carol,

        Thank you for this. I was give a small begiona plant in a small pot. I has small flowers with red petals and yellow center as shown in a picture above. It seems it was outdoor but I am not sure. It also has a few small leaf holes. Should I spray with pesticide? Also, will it still grow indoors with flourescent light? Thank you

        • Carol Speake
          11/11/2020 at 11:21 am

          Hi Andy. I can’t diagnose any specific plant problems without seeing the plant in person.

  3. Aileen
    09/17/2018 at 9:40 pm

    My begonia is 7 years old. Once it stops flowering in the fall I put the whole pot in my basement & completely ignore it until after the last frost. Then I put it back on my deck and let nature take care of it. Other than a little water once in awhile & a bigger pot, I have done nothing to it in 7 years. It just gets more spectacular every year.

    • Carol
      09/17/2018 at 10:09 pm

      Hi Aileen. What a lovely looking plant! Thanks for sharing your growing tips for it. Carol

    • Kathryn Brown
      10/04/2020 at 5:20 pm

      I have a begonia, I think Rex begonias and they have a growth coming out of them, it’s tubular looking and red at base and green at top? I’m just wondering wth it is?? I’ve looked on the web and nothing compares to this. It’s about 3” high too

  4. Nola Lyell
    05/22/2019 at 9:25 pm

    My tubular begonias’ leaves look lush & healthy however there are no flowers. How can I get them to flower. They are outside

    • Carol
      05/23/2019 at 11:53 am

      There are several reasons this could be happening. If the plant is in mainly shade, it may not be getting enough light. If the foliage is cut back too soon in the fall, the tubers may not get the nutrition they need for flowering the following year, and if the plant is over watered or over fertilized, the foliage may grow and the blooms not grow.

  5. Laurie
    08/13/2020 at 5:19 pm

    Do you know the name of the begonia in the reddish pot below your suggestion to pinch back so they don’t become leggy. That looks like one my Grandma had for years that was quite large. I got a start from her. The stems can be anywhere up to probably 10-12″ if it is in a large pot. It blooms light pink. Thanks

    • Carol Speake
      08/14/2020 at 10:16 am

      That is just a normal tuberous begonia. No particular name that I am aware of.

  6. Gisa
    08/31/2020 at 1:27 am

    How often can I water and add fertiliser to my flower

    • Carol Speake
      09/01/2020 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Gisa. It depends on the flower. For most plants I water when the soil is dry down about 1 inch and fertilize once a month during the spring and summer. But some plants are different, so it depends entirely on what you are watering

  7. Sonja Young
    09/10/2020 at 4:22 am

    Good day from South Africa!
    We’ve recently relocated to another province and with the moving of our goods and my plants, my begonia “died” as it was not looked after (our goods were in storage because of the lockdown)
    I was very sad as this plant came from my mom’s original plant and which was probably about 60+ years old. However, in the small little bit that was left of the stem I saw life! A fine, very small mini-me leave appeared… But that’s it!

    We have spring here now, and high humidity, lots of rain during summer months, high temperatures too!

    How do I or what can I do to help this little prem begonia to grow again???



    • Carol Speake
      09/10/2020 at 11:13 am

      Trying to get a plant back from being in storage is very difficult if not impossible. Normal watering and care with sun on the small piece is the only thing to try.

  8. Jennifer
    11/13/2020 at 7:52 pm

    I have a Iron Cross begonia in Southern California. Should I keep it outside? How low can temperatures go? Will it die back then reemerge in the spring? That is, should I expect the Iron Cross to lose all it’s leaves and basically die out, but keep it around because it will come back like bulbs? I want to make sure I am not misunderstanding your article. Thanks

    • Carol Speake
      11/14/2020 at 10:02 pm

      Iron cross begonias are only cold hardy in zones 10 and 11. If the temperature goes below 55 degrees F at any time, it can kill the plant. Most people grow it as a house plant. It is not as hardy as a bulb. Bulbs are intended to withstand low temperatures. Iron cross begonia is not.

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