2016: Year of the Begonia
Each year, the National Garden Bureau (NGB) selects an annual, bulb, vegetable and perennial to be showcased. The selected plants are chosen for their popularity, versatility, and simplicity. NGB is predicting 2016 to be the Year of the Carrot, the Year of the Begonia, the Year of the Delphinium and the Year of the Allium. All of these have not only been popular for years, but are great plants to grow in our Midwest conditions.
This year’s annual is the begonia. Begonias are very versatile plants that can be used as houseplants, in the shade or in the sun depending on the variety. There are so many different species available that there is virtually a begonia for every gardening situation. The only downside of these wonderful plants is that they are annuals in our area.
The most common types of begonias you will see in local gardens, and at Vern Goers Greenhouse, include Waxed Begonias, Rex Begonias, Reiger Begonias and Non-Stop (Tuberous) Begonias. Waxed begonias come in green or red leafed varieties, with small white, pink or red flowers. These do great in sunny areas and can tolerate some shade as well. They need very little maintenance and grow in mounds that are about 8-12 inches in height.
Non-Stop or Tuberous Begonias have very large flowers that range in colors from white to orange to red. The leaves are fuzzy and the plants do best if kept in shadier areas of the garden. The blooms can be single or double, giving you large spots of color in your shade garden.
Reiger Begonias have a flower shaped similar to the non-stop begonia, but smaller in size. The plants themselves can grow to be taller than the non-stops and are available in a wide variety of colors, some even being two-toned. These plants make great houseplants throughout the year and are often given as gifts. When planted outdoors, be sure to place them in the shade or morning sun, as the leaves and flowers can burn from too much heat and sunlight.
The last variety that is most common in our area is the Rex Begonia. These begonias are known more for their colorful leaves rather than their flowers. The leaves have various designs and multi-colors on them, and provide extra color for shade spots of your garden or for in your home.
There are other varieties of begonias that we carry from time to time, including Beognia holiviensis that has bright orange, trumpet-shaped flowers that are great for hanging baskets.
No matter the variety you choose, all begonias like well-drained soil and will need to be watered less-frequently during the winter months when they are indoors. Being that they are tuberous in nature, they can rot easily from over-watering.
No matter the variety you choose, begonias are a great plant for any garden, which is why they were chosen as one of the Plants of the Year for 2016.