How to grow and care for a begonia

With patterned leaves and brightly coloured flowers, a begonia will be a welcome addition to your garden, whether it is in a pot, hanging basket or garden bed.

What you need to know about a begonia

Name: begonia, wax begonia, bedding begonia, rex begonia, Begonia sp

Height: varies according to type, from 15cm–2m

Foliage: olive to bright green, bronze to red. Often beautifully marked and covered in fine hairs. Colour, texture and shape depends on variety.

Climate: tropical and sub-tropical, temperate with protection, frost tender. Will grow in other regions as summer annual, house plant or in glasshouse.

Soil: prefers deep, well-drained soil rich in organic matter or compost. Requires good drainage, as roots will readily rot if the soil is too wet. Most grow well in pots that are kept moist.

Position: begonias will grow in a range of positions: full sun, shade or semi shade, depending on type.

Flowering: showy, much-prized flowers in shades of red, pink, white, orange and yellow.

Feeding: feed year-round when actively growing, following the recommendations on the pack.

Watering: keep soil or potting mix moist but not wet. Mulch to maintain soil moisture.


Appearance and characteristics of a begonia

Tuberous begonia: upright variety, great for pots, and the cascading variety looks lovely in hanging baskets. Grow this plant in dappled shade in the garden or in the shade house to enjoy its large coloured blooms.

Trailing begonia: perfect for hanging baskets or in the garden, trained to grow up a post or trellis. Some can grow to 2m or more. Some varieties flower throughout the year with pink or white flowers. Regular pruning will keep them in shape.

Semperflorens: small bushy plant commonly known as bedding begonia. Its leaves can be bronze, green or variegated. Its flowers are white, pink or red, and it rarely grows more than 30cm.You’ve probably seen semperflorens mass planted in public parks and gardens.

Rhizomatous begonia: forms a rhizome, which is a thickened stem that supplies water and food. The rhizome grows roots from the bottom and leaves and flowers from the top.When flowering finishes the rhizomes can be pruned and repotted.

Cane-like begonia: has tall bamboo-like stems and wing-shaped leaves, often with striking markings, and large hanging clusters of flowers that can last for months. Grows well in pots and is quite cold-hardy, but needs staking.

Elatior begonia: short-lived, indoor plant with flowers in pastel shades of pink, apricot, peach, lemon and white and heart-shaped leaves. Usually available in pots.

How to propagate a begonia

It is easy to propagate a begonia by cuttings. You can cut a leaf into wedges, dip it into plant cutting powder and place on a tray of moist seed-raising mix. Hold the cuttings in place with wire or toothpicks. Put the tray in a light spot, keep moist and in around eight weeks you’ll have new plants.

You can also put 10–15cm stem cuttings in a jar of water and they’ll form roots. When the roots are 4–5cm long, pot your new plants in a free draining, light potting mix.

Caring for a begonia

All begonias hate wet feet—that is, they don’t like the soil or potting mix to be continually wet. Depending on the season, a good watering every 7–10 days should be enough, though some plants may need a little water every day during warmer weather.

It is important that the pots don’t dry out. Overwatering is a common problem and can lead to rot, so it is best to pour water into the saucer the pot is sitting in, rather than directly into the pot. Make sure your plant has good air flow and is only watered when the top of the soil is dry to the touch, and avoid overhead watering.

Begonias like most fertilisers, especially a slow-release weekly feed in spring. Just follow the recommended application rate on the package.

Diseases and pests

There are a few pests and diseases you need to watch for. Powdery mildew is the most common, but this is easily treated—just spray with fungicide and then provide good air circulation.

Common pests affecting a begonia are caterpillars, snails and aphids. Pick them off by hand if the infestation is small, or check out our range of pest and disease control.

If you like this then try

Impatiens: a brightly-flowered, colourful annual for shady gardens or pots.

Torenia: a bushy annual border plant with flowers in multiple colours and shades.

Caladium: a tropical-like plant with multi-coloured red, white, pink or green foliage.

Lysimachia: grow as a dense, mat-forming ground cover with bright green leaves and yellow flowers in summer.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing.

pool with moroccan tiles

Planning & Projects Transform your backyard with a new garden bed Well-planned garden beds can give your backyard both structure and beauty, and solve all sorts of tricky problems, from screening out your neighbours to disguising an ugly fence. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

planting an edible garden

Planning & Projects How to build a child-friendly edible garden Creating a child-friendly edible garden is an enjoyable way to get grubby with the kids as well as engaging them with the great outdoors

Garden Tool Storage 01:52

Planning & Projects D.I.Y. garden tool storage rack Garden tools can be tricky to store away neatly because of their size and shape. Find out how to create a garden tool storage rack with this guide from Bunnings.

various artificial plants

Planning & Projects Create an instant artificial garden Get an instant, hassle-free designer garden with Un-Real Artificial plants. Find out here how you can create a beautiful and instant private garden.

How to Make a Terrarium 02:54

Planning & Projects How to make a terrarium Learn how to make a terrarium with this handy guide.

Renovation Basics - Garden 03:28

Planning & Projects How to plan and landscape a garden makeover If you’re thinking about creating a new garden, you can save a lot by doing the project yourself.

Plant growing from coin jar

Planning & Projects Nine plants for good luck around the home The Lunar New Year is a significant part of most Asian cultures. There are many customs and rituals that are celebrated at this time. As part of the customs, there are some plants traditionally associated with the Lunar New Year festival and thought...

Plan out the garden 01:50

Planning & Projects How to create a cottage garden A cottage garden full of flowers and colour brightens every home. This video will help you build one that suits your tastes and needs.

low water garden

Planning & Projects How to create a low-water garden ‘Dry’ or ‘low-water’ gardening is a real art and, when done right, will provide you with an inviting landscape that uses very little water.

Finished artificial green garden wall behind garden bench 02:05

Planning & Projects How to create a green wall using artificial hedge Green walls are all the rage at the moment, but buying and maintaining one can be costly. Why not have a go at creating your own using pieces of artificial hedge – it looks great and will last the distance. Here’s how.

reducing water

How To Save Water How to reduce water usage Whether indoor or outdoor, there are lots of ways to be smart about water usage. And there are some simple actions that can make a big difference to your water bill.

doorbell 02:04

Doors How to install a ring doorbell The Ring video doorbell is a wireless doorbell which allows you to see who is at your front door. Find out how to install the Ring video doorbell yourself.

a tree lit up with solar lights around it 01:46

Garden Lighting How to install solar lights in your garden Solar lights are a great way to illuminate your pathways and highlight your garden beds at night. Install them yourself with these easy steps.

how to organise your pantry 02:52

Shelving & Storage How to organise your pantry Create an organisational system in your pantry with these handy storage hints. Trust us – its life changing!

front door 01:31

How To Paint How to paint your front door Make an entrance every darn day of the week by painting your front door a bold, enticing colour!

how to hang pictures

Walls The best way to hang pictures on a wall Learn the tricks to hanging your wall decor so it looks good – and doesn’t damage the plasterboard. Create an effortless-looking display by taking the time to consider spacing, proportion, frame styles and colour palettes.

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
Top of the content