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USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

To help gardeners understand which plants will grow well for them, the entire USA has been segmented into ‘Plant Hardiness Zones’. Knowing your zone number is helpful when shopping for plants because:

  • Cold-area gardeners can avoid buying plants that simply won’t survive their lowest winter temperatures.
  • Warm-area gardeners can steer clear of plants that need a period of cold weather in order to bloom again.
Find your Plant Hardiness Zone here.

How To Grow Begonias

beautiful begonias in bloom

Begonias, known to us as the stars of the shade garden, delight with large, spectacularly colored blooms that last through the summer season. These beauties thrive in containers or in the garden, preferring shade and rich soil.

Begonias are not the easiest tubers to plant – they take longer to bloom than other summer bulbs and should be started indoors in the late winter. But they are well worth the extra effort, as their huge, colorful blooms steal the show in almost any summer garden.

When To Plant

We recommend starting the tubers indoors in the late winter, around February or March. However, the tubers can be planted from February to June. In areas with hot summer temperatures, it’s best to have Begonias established earlier in the season. In colder zones, tuberous Begonias are tender and cannot be placed outdoors during frost. Come spring, once the ground warms and the chance of frost is over, bring your Begonias outdoors and either keep them in containers or transplant into the garden.

Where to Plant

yellow begoniaOutdoors: Begonias prefer shade, rich soil and require some regular care, so try to plant them in an area that is easily accessible. We recommend watering every few days, or when the soil has dried out. Fertilize every other week with an organic 20-20-20 fertilizer.  

Indoors: If you’re starting tubers inside, place planted Begonias in a warm location with indirect sunlight, preferably an eastern, western, or southern-facing window. If you don’t have an indoor window space, we recommend purchasing a heat lamp to allow some light for growth (heat lamps also come in handy for starting seeds).

Planting Steps

Step 1: Prepare your garden plot or container. If planting in a garden, dig a hole a few inches deep to cover the tuber. If planting in a pot, find a pot that is twice the size of the tuber. Fill the pot 3/4 full with potting soil. Soil mixes with peat moss are the best choice, because they retain moisture and create slightly acidic conditions. We recommend using a 2/3 peat moss and 1/3 potting mixture.

Step 2: One side of the tuber has a hollow dip and the other is round; the hollow dip is the top and sometimes they will already be sprouting buds. If the buds are coming up, be very careful placing the tubers in the pot as the new growth is fragile.

planting a begonia illustration

Step 3: Cover tuber with soil and water. Keep your container or garden bed moist, but not too wet. Expect growth in 3-4 weeks after planting. If growing conditions aren’t ideal, Begonias can take longer to grow. That’s why planting in containers is often a great choice for Begonias; if they aren’t thriving, you can always try moving them to a different location in your garden.

Step 4: If you’ve planted indoors, after Begonias have sprouted and are a couple of inches tall, you can transplant outdoors. If you live in a older climate and the chance for frost has passed, you can place the Begonia outside.

Aftercare

In fall, after leaves turn yellow or temperatures reach below 40 degrees at night, bring your Begonias inside and enjoy as a houseplant or save for next spring. In colder zones, lift tubers and store in a cool, dry non-freezing place until spring. Allow tubers to dry out for 5-7 days before storing to reduce mold and rot. It’s best to place in a cardboard box full of peat moss or a paper bag for storage.

10 thoughts on “How To Grow Begonias”

  • Mary Ann haliw

    Thank you!! I love begonias but never really planted any, because I thought they were hard to grow.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Hi Mary Ann,

      With a little patience, Begonias are absolutely worth it! We love their colorful blooms.

      Happy Gardening,

      Amanda

      Reply
  • Marie

    Can I leave the tubers in the ground year round in Zone 8?

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Hi Marie,

      Yes, as long as you don't get a hard, killing frost you should be able to leave your Begonias in the ground year round. They are hardy in zones 8-10. If you do see some cold weather coming, we recommend covering them to protect them from the frost.

      Happy Gardening,

      Amanda

      Reply
  • Steve Fowler

    I've successfully wintered over a couple of my begonias in my dry basement (45-55 degrees, cooler near the windows), such as the Bonfire type, which develop a nice fat corm. In the spring (late April this year), I take them out of the basement repot into a soilless mix with some of my yard-waste compost and I get incredible growth. I'm sure if I did it sooner, put them under my grow lights they'd be further along, but by late May, they'll be starting to put on blooms. The little tuberous begonias I put in my strawberry jars, I've cut back repotted and placed into sunny windows where they bloom all winter. Happy gardening, steve

    Reply
  • Joan Stone

    I have many beautiful begonias that are still blooming, including hanging baskets. I want to keep them over winter,but am not sure when to dig them. Should I wait til frost,or dig them now? I don't have room for all of them in the house. My mom always put her hanging basket, after cutting them back, in her basement. She would bring it out in spring and water and they would come back beautifully year after year. I don't have room to do this. Do you think they would be O.K. under the house? Two of mine came back from last year and they were huge! It's too cold to trust leaving them out.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Hi Joan,

      Thanks for the question! Because Begonias are a tender annual, you'll want to dig them up and store them for the winter before you get a frost. You could certainly try leaving them under the house, underneath a tarp of some sort, but if the temperatures drop below freezing they could die off. If you have a dark closet or attic that would work great too. You can take the bulbs out of the containers to save room and after drying them out for a few days, place them in a paper bag. Let us know how it goes!

      Reply
  • Pamela Mahana

    This is my first go round with begonias, my son threw a fit to get a container that had begonias and pansies in it. So needless to say it came home with us. I'm honest in saying I really do not know a single thing about either plant. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Hi Pamela,

      This container sounds lovely! Both Begonias and Pansies thrive in partial shade and will last longer if grown in the shade, especially in the hot weather. Make sure to keep the container watered regularly and give them some fertilizer once per month to keep them strong and healthy. Good luck and please post a photo on our Facebook Page if you have one! https://www.facebook.com/americanmeadows

      Reply
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