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Beautiful begonias

For indoor colour you can’t get brighter than begonias, not just for their flowers but for their striking leaves as well.

Begonias are not just hardy garden plants, the more exotic varieties are showy, easy to care for houseplants, especially the fancy foliage varieties that offer year-round foliage colour.

Quite simply, all indoor begonias like warm, bright rooms with filtered sunlight, but not direct sun. Because of their soft, luscious leaves you’d think they like lots of water. Not so. Only water when they need it. Let the potting soil slightly dry out, and it’s okay if the leaves droop slightly. They recover quickly. Water around the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves and the flowers.

A begonia to go dotty over

Begonia ‘Polka dot’ is one for the lovers of something quirky. It has elongated white polka-dotted olive green leaves with a warm reddish brown under leaf. Contrasting with this, the new leaves are a light bronze. A really beautiful combination of colours. In summer it produces sprays  of white flowers.

Polka dot grows into a sizeable feature plant for any area that receives bright indirect sunlight. It even does well with less light but not with low light. Good for living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms, the home office and the patio as long as it doesn’t  receive afternoon sun.

Colour-me gorgeous

Another fancy leaf begonia that is a real beauty is Begonia rex ‘Alaska Creek’ that is more compact (40 -60cm high) with splashes of pink and white on its frilled green leaves. The leaves are slightly hairy and crinkled, adding texture.

This is more of a coffee table centrepiece or for the outdoor living area. It is not cold hardy so should be over wintered in a warm, brightly lit room.

Silver splash

The silvery-leaved Begonia rex also creates a tropical atmosphere, and contrasts well with other leafy plants. Its reddish-brown stems add extra colour.

Because it likes humidity, try keeping it on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water. As long as the base of the pot is not sitting in the water, the plant won’t get waterlogged.

 All the colours of the rainbow

The most popular begonias for indoors are the tuberous begonias because their blooms come in a multitude of vivid colours. They are not as long lasting as the fancy leaf begonias. They go dormant after flowering and although they can be brought back into flower most people prefer to discard them.

However, these begonias bloom for a long time, especially if they get plenty of bright light, but not  direct sunlight which can scorch the leaves. Keep soil evenly moist, not soggy. Allow top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Keep the leaves dry by only watering the soil around the base of the plant.



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