Tuberous begonias light up shady patios, porches, and gardens with their big, brilliantly colored flowers. These heat-loving summer bulbs can be grown in hanging baskets, window boxes, pots and garden beds, and will bloom non-stop from summer through fall.
- ZONE 10: Indoors: Late December; Outdoors February
- ZONE 9: Indoors: Late January; Outdoors: Early March
- ZONE 8: Indoors: Late February; Outdoors: Early April
- ZONE 7: Indoors: Early March; Outdoors: Late April
- ZONE 6: Indoors: Late March; Outdoors: Mid-May
- ZONE 5: Indoors: Early April; Outdoors: Late May
- ZONE 4: Indoors: Mid-April; Outdoors: Early June
- ZONE 3: Indoors: Late April; Outdoors: Mid-June
WAKE UP THE TUBERS
Like most bulbs, tuberous begonias have a winter resting period. During this time, the tubers are usually kept cool so they stay dormant. If you purchase begonia tubers in the spring, they may have only recently come out of refrigeration. To help them wake up, put the tubers in a 60-70 degree room where they'll get bright indirect light. After a couple weeks, you should see the first sprouts, and that means it's time to plant.
USE POTS OR TRAYS
Begonia tubers are usually started individually, in small pots or shallow containers. If you want to avoid transplanting, use a 6” pot for 1 tuber, an 8” pot for 2 tubers and a 12” pot for 3 tubers.
Roots will develop on all sides of the tuber, so completely covering it with soil will encourage a better root system. Start by filling a pot or tray with 2 to 3” of a moistened growing mix. Place a tuber on the soil surface, with the hollow side up and cover it with another 1" of soil. Water thoroughly.
KEEP THE TUBERS WARM AND COZY
Begonia tubers grow more quickly in a warm, humid environment. To increase humidity, you can cover the pots loosely with a clear plastic bag. Begonia tubers can also be started inside a terrarium. Though begonias like humidity, avoid overwatering. Wet soil can cause the tubers to rot.
Once the first leaves appear, move the pots to a warm sunny windowsill or put them under grow lights. Allowing all the sprouts develop will give you a full, bushy plant with lots of flowers. If you'd rather get bigger flowers and are willing to have fewer blooms, you can pinch off all but a few of the young stems.
PLANT OUTDOORS FOR MONTHS OF COLOR
When springtime temperatures have settled and all danger of frost has passed, your begonias can be moved outdoors. If you are transplanting them into larger pots, be gentle, as it's easy to break the stems. Adding compost to the growing mix will help retain moisture and add valuable nutrients. Fertilize your begonias every two weeks throughout the growing season, using a liquid, all-purpose fertilizer. Water as needed. It's best to let the top couple inches of soil get dry between waterings.