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Though the beautiful blooms of wax begonias are native to Brazil, they have become a popular choice for many gardeners throughout the world – including the US – due to their easy maintenance.
It has been said that wax begonia plants symbolize lovesickness and bitter love, yet their appearance can only be described as sweet, with colorful flowers and unusual leaves. Their attractive appearance has secured their place as one of the most popular bedding plants for landscaping.
In the correct climate, the wax begonia is a perennial plant, but it is typically used as a bedding annual in cooler areas. If we have piqued your interest in Begonia semperflorens, the following article will tell you everything you need to know, including information about identification, growth, and maintenance.
How to Identify Begonia Semperflorens
Here are a few key features to look out for:
- First, the roots of wax begonia are thick and fibrous.
- The waxy leaves from which these plants earn their name are deep, luscious green, or bronze. The coloration of a plant’s leaves is likely to indicate how sun-tolerant it is; bronze leaves are the most tolerant of all.
- There are a number of popular varieties, including monza, emperor red, prelude white, and party pink, so it’s important to be aware that not all blooms will be the same color.
- Leaves are glossy-looking and oval-shaped.
- Wax begonias can grow between six inches and two feet high.
- Their foliage is compact, and they often seem to grow in mounds.
How to Grow Begonia Semperflorens From Seed
Before getting into the process of growing wax begonia from seed, there are a few important things you need to consider. The first is that doing so can be challenging and time-consuming; wax begonia seeds are tiny (as small as dust) and have a long germination period. Additionally, you must be careful about temperature and light levels.
If you are still up for the challenge, read on!
- First of all, select a suitable planting container (one with sufficient draining holes) and ensure it is fully sterilized.
- Place about a half-inch of sphagnum moss over the bottom of the container covering the holes.
- Next, you’ll need an inch of sand and peat moss; over this, place just over half an inch of vermiculite. Being cautious about the type of potting material you use is crucial to the successful germination of your seeds.
- Place the container in a small amount of water until the water soaks up. Then, leave it to drain.
- Dust your wax begonia seeds over the top of the mixture.
- For germination to occur, the seeds will need a constant temperature of between 70 and 80°F. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use a greenhouse or humidity dome.
- It will take roughly 10 days for the seeds to germinate. At this point, place them somewhere they will receive plenty of indirect light.
How to Propagate Begonia Semperflorens
When propagating wax begonia, it’s a good idea to take multiple cuttings to ensure success. Here’s how to go about the process:
- Take a few cuttings of 3-5 inches using sharp scissors or pruning shears. Remove any leaves at the bottom of your cuttings.
- Select a pot that has holes for drainage and ensure it has been thoroughly sterilized. Fill with potting soil and plant your cuttings 2 inches deep. We recommend Miracle-Gro moisture control soil; wax begonias like to be moist, but too much water will cause them to rot.
- Place in a window that gets plenty of sunlight. Your cuttings will need several hours of sun each day to grow roots successfully. This should take between 8 and 10 days.
- After 3 weeks, it’s time for individual repotting.
Begonia Semperflorens Growing Conditions
The ideal temperature range for wax begonias is between 60 and 75°F, and you are likely to see better blooms at the lower end. These stunning plants are fairly drought tolerant, but they always prefer moist soil.
Outdoors, wax begonias are not picky about the type of soil they are in. If you are keeping them as houseplants, they will prefer light and airy soil. When it comes to sunlight, you should opt for bright but filtered sun. However, it’s important to remember that too much shade will prevent wax begonias from blooming to their full potential.
Top Tip: Begonia semperflorens won’t tolerate frost, so bring your plant indoors throughout the winter.
How to Plant Begonia Semperflorens
While wax begonias are fairly hardy, they still benefit from care and attention. Therefore, when planting or repotting them, you should consider the following factors:
- Type of pot. You should always use a pot with holes at the base for drainage.
- Time of year. When it comes to repotting, March is the best time to do this.
- Size of the pot. Choose one that is only slightly bigger than its predecessor.
Once you are ready to plant your wax begonia, remove it from its current pot by holding it at the roots and gently pulling. If the pot is plastic, squeezing it will help the plant to slide out. Either place the plant in its new pot and fill with soil or place it in a flower bed, ensuring sufficient space surrounding it.
Begonia Semperflorens Potting & Soil
Looking for the ideal pot for your wax begonia? This self-watering and self aerating pot provides the perfect conditions with minimum effort required on your part. It’s perfect if you lead a busy lifestyle and don’t always remember to care for your plants!
For even more options, check out our article on how to find the ideal pot.
When it comes to wax begonia, you’re going to want to make sure you have soil that drains well whilst remaining aerated. If you plan on keeping your begonia indoors, we recommend mixing Miracle-Gro potting soil with some perlite and sphagnum moss.
Begonia Semperflorens Water Requirements
It might be tempting to create a watering schedule for your wax begonia, but this is something you should try to avoid as it may lead to overwatering and, thus a lack of oxygen. Instead, you should pay careful attention to the soil.
Place your index finger an inch or two deep in the soil; if it feels dry, it’s time to water your wax begonia. However, if it’s still moist, you should wait a few more days. Don’t forget that during summertime, your plant will need watering more regularly.
If you are keeping wax begonias outdoors, their moisture levels will still need to be checked from time to time depending on the climate, although established plants can last considerably longer between watering. One of the best ways to extend soil moisture levels is to add a layer of mulch.
Begonia Semperflorens Light Requirements
Wax begonias that are kept in the garden will favor bright, filtered sunlight. However, they can grow in direct sunlight as long as the climate is not too hot, especially if their leaves have a bronze coloration. For indoor begonias, choose an east- or west-facing window to give the plant plenty of light.
Best Begonia Semperflorens Fertilizer
One thing’s for certain when it comes to plant fertilizer: balance is best. Ideally, you should aim for a selection of micronutrients (including calcium, copper, and magnesium) as well as 10% potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. This nutrient-dense, organic fertilizer is an excellent choice.
Wax begonias flower during spring and summer; try to fertilize them once every four waters at this time of the year.
Best Begonia Semperflorens Companion Plantings
Wax begonias make an excellent addition to hanging baskets and mixed outdoor containers; not only do they grow well with other plants, their bushy shape, and colorful blooms also make them visually appealing.
For hanging baskets, pair wax begonias with scandent or trailing begonias. We have a handy guide explaining the key facts about these plants, as well as their differences. Geraniums are also renowned for being excellent hanging basket plants; their flowers complement the wax begonia.
While wax begonias are most commonly planted outdoors, they are also suitable as houseplants. If you are interested in finding ideal indoor companions for your begonia, take a look at this article about the best window sill planters.
Begonia Semperflorens Diseases and Common Problems
Whether it’s kept indoors or outdoors, wax begonia is, unfortunately, still susceptible to a number of common diseases and problems. These usually occur due to unfavorable conditions, such as soil that is too wet or dry.
Here are a couple of the most common pests:
- Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae). These pests are easy to get rid of if you catch them soon enough, and they can usually be found by examining the roots.
- Thrips (Thysanoptera). These pests are only a millimeter in length, and their toxic saliva has the ability to damage plant cells.
Additionally, wax begonia can be affected by the following diseases:
- Powdery mildew. Warm and dry conditions cause this. Look out for powdery white spots on the leaves of your plant.
- Botrytis Blight. A type of fungus called Botrytis cinerea causes this disease, and it can usually be found in cold, wet environments. Look out for rotten patches.
Begonia Semperflorens Treatments and Maintenance
As long as you regularly inspect your wax begonia to check for signs of illness, you should be able to catch any problems soon enough to treat them. For pests like mealybugs and thrips, there are a range of insecticidal soaps available on the market. We recommend this ready-to-use spray.
Fungal infections can be combated with fungicides. In addition, there are a couple of other important steps to carry out when dealing with plant disease:
- Remove all affected material from the plant before starting treatments.
- Allow the soil to drain properly and sterilize the pot.
To aid the growth of your wax begonia and to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place, you should carry out some pruning. This is extremely beneficial for begonia plants because they tend to grow quickly. In addition, trimming excess plant matter will promote new growth; removing dead matter will prevent disease.
Where to Buy Begonia Semperflorens Seeds Online
There are many stunning color variations available to purchase online. The best place to search is on Amazon, where you can find rose, white and red variations, among others.
Where to Buy Mature Begonia semperflorens Online
It can be difficult to purchase mature plants online because wax begonias tend to grow very quickly and are often kept outdoors. However, we recommend searching on Amazon, otherwise asking at your local garden center.
Question: What other types of begonia are there?
Answer: There are so many varieties out there, often with vastly different appearances. We’ve prepared an article that will help you select the best species for you.
Question: Why has my wax begonia stopped growing?
Answer: If you are struggling to understand why your begonia plant has stopped growing, the first thing to figure out is whether the conditions are correct. For example, is your plant getting the right amount of light and water? If the answer is yes, then there’s a likely culprit for this lack of growth: your plant probably needs repotting. Select a new pot that is only slightly bigger than the last and ensure it is fully sterilized before rehoming your plant.
Question: Why does my wax begonia never flower?
Answer: There are two possibilities here. Firstly, your begonia might not be getting enough light. As far as plants go, they are fairly sensitive, and they blossom best under scattered – but long-term – light. The second possibility is over-fertilization. This particularly applies to fertilizer that is nitrogen-based as it tends to promote dense vegetative growth without flowers. On the other hand, wax begonias benefit from thin fertilizer, which must be well balanced as we mentioned earlier.
Question: Can wax begonias be overwintered?
Answer: Absolutely! They are excellent plants for overwintering since they can be kept as houseplants or outdoor plants. This can also be crucial for keeping them alive as they do not tolerate frost.