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Houseplant of the Month April: Begonia

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The story of the begonia
The flowering begonia has full, plump flowers in cheerful colours such as red, pink, orange, white and yellow. The enthusiasm with which the plant blooms means in practice that you can hardly see the plant for the flowers. Foliage begonias have their own distinctive beauty in the form of velvet leaves that are beautifully marked with silver, pink, burgundy and green patterns that more than make up for the absence of flowers. They’re both plants with a luxurious look, yet still surprisingly simple and easy to care for. The begonia fits well with the trend where plants provide a soft, friendly buffer against the rolling news and the harsh outside world.

There are 1895 different species of begonia, which grows in warm, damp forest regions in New Guinea, southern Africa and the Andes. The wild version is spikier and more slender than the cultivated version, which has much fuller leaves and flowers considerably more.

Begonia range
The begonia range is very extensive. The most common flowering houseplant is the Begonia Elatior Group. These come as single flowered, semi-double and double flowered. One new addition is the Bodinia Line with extra full flowers and curly foliage. The Betulia is very suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Begonia is diverse as a foliage plant. The Begonia Rex Group is available in various attractive leaf colours, structures and shapes. The Beleaf has an attractive structure and eye-catching colours. The Begonia Boweri Group is a classic within the foliage range. And varieties such as Tamara (standard) or B. maculata are characterised by their leaves with silvery grey spots.

What to look for when buying begonias

  • Pot and plant must be in proportion, and the plant must look attractive and full.

  • With flowering begonias there should be sufficient ripe buds visible.

  • To be on the safe side, check whether it’s an indoor or outdoor begonia.

  • Damaged leaves or leaves with marks indicate shipping damage, yellow leaves indicate a lack of water.

  • The plant must be free of pests and diseases.

Care tips for customers

  • Begonias need a lot of light, but don’t like bright sunlight.

  • Some water twice a week is appreciated. The soil should be damp.

  • Try to avoid spraying your begonia; it can cause mildew (a fungus).

  • If you remove the wilted flowers, the plant will make new ones.

  • Plant food once a week will keep your begonia blooming.

Sales and display for begonias
The most tempting aspect of begonias is the fabulous display of flowers and foliage. The soft, plump appeal of the flowers is reinforced in a display with soft ornamental grass plumes and plants with velvety leaves. Foliage begonias can be effectively displayed in different sizes to show how versatile they are. For both the setting should be soft and friendly: fluffy rugs, lovely cushions, planters that look like furs.