Begonia lovers, take heart. Planting a wax begonia is easy to do and the results will be well worth the time and effort. Just follow these simple steps for truly spectacular summer blooms. Foliage may be green, red, bronze, variegated or white, depending on variety. Flower color can be white, pink or red and some varieties even have double blooms.
Consider planting wax begonias in borders, edgings, hanging baskets, pots and other containers. They also make great houseplants when properly tended to.
Step 1 – Location, Location
Choose a spot for the wax begonia that gets dappled, or partial shade. Some varieties have been developed that are shade-tolerant, making them suitable for houseplants as well. However, most wax begonia plants do best in light shade.
Step 2 – Soil pH And Other Requirements
Although not too fussy about soil, the wax begonia does require good drainage. For ideal growing conditions, plant in soil with between 6 and 8 pH. Daytime temperatures should be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Wax begonia will not tolerate frost, so set out after the last frost in the spring and bring them inside in the fall. In non-frost areas, wax begonias can be left outside and grown as a shrub.
Step 3 – Planting Choice: Nursery Stock Or Starting From Seeds
Most gardeners find it easier to buy stock from the nursery and plant in the spring. The seed method means starting seeds 4 to 6 months before transplanting. Seeds are very fine, so scatter seeds, don’t cover them, and use a sterile growing mix. Water well from below in the growing tray in order to discourage fungal disease. Since wax begonia seeds need light and humidity to germinate, cover them with a piece of glass or plastic and place in a sunlit spot indoors. Germination takes between 14 and 21 days. Soil temperatures of between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal.
When planting nursery stock, consider spacing requirements. Wax begonias grow 6 to 18 inches tall and spread 6 to 12 inches.
Step 4 – Water And Fertilization
After plants have been set outdoors in spring, or when wax begonia grown from seed has reached size for transplanting to pots, make sure to fertilize regularly. Fertilizing encourages blooms all summer long. Also, pinch off spent blooms to promote fuller plants and more profuse blooms.
Keep the wax begonia plants evenly moist throughout the growing season. They will be able to tolerate an occasional dry spell once they’re established, since the leaves’ waxy nature helps reduce water loss. For best results, however, maintain consistent moisture.
Step 5 – When To Bring Indoors–Or Not
The semperflorens will die off quickly in frost, even light frost. If grown in an area that gets frost, prepare to bring them indoors when the forecast calls for frost. Otherwise be ready to plant new wax begonia plants in the spring. In areas where it doesn’t freeze, they can remain outdoors.
Summing up, wax begonia is a pretty easy plant to grow, even for less-than-diligent gardeners. For great color and long-lasting blooms, plant wax begonias in your garden.