Hardy Begonias

I always thought of begonias as annuals until I discovered a perrenial variety for sale in a neighborhood fund raiser 20 years ago.  For a dollar, I brought home a clump and planted it.  Pretty much forgot about it and for my neglect, I’ve been rewarded with year after year of spectacular masses of lovely pink flowers.  Pretty awesome return on my investment!  And how cool to have begonias that don’t need to be planted every year.

Hardy begonias, Begonia grandis, are the darling of the late summer perennial garden.   A herbaceous perennial that can survive Northeast winters, it flowers from late July into October and is hardy in zones 6 to 9.  The  new growth foliage appears later than most plants in spring so remember where you planted it so you don’t inadevertently dig it up.

Early foliage emergence before the flowers appear in Lorelei’s garden.

These begonias return year after year, surviving winter temperatures! When a clump gets this full, it is a good idea to divide the plants come fall.

The emerging flower bud, early July.

First bloom arriving August 1st in my zone 6 garden.

Hardy begonias thrive in shade but can tolerate partial sun.  They do not need to be fertilized. With panicles of gorgeous pink or white pendant flowers on arching stems,  the plants form clumps up to 2 feet tall and just as wide.  Deadhead to encourage repeat blooming although I just let mine do their thing.

The large, heart-shaped bright green leaves with bold fuchsia veining and pink undersides are an attractive bonus.

The plants will naturalize if you allow them to drop their bublets, those pretty yellow centers, in late fall.  Plant them where you don’t mind if they spread because they are prolific growers.

The foliage will decompose naturally when the cold weather arrives.  The plants can be divided in fall and transplanted. A prolific propagator, it is a great plant to gift to other gardeners, as my friend Lorelei recently gifted me.

A very healthy and abundant spread of naturalized hardy begonias in my friend Lorelei’s Pennsylvania garden. Gorgeous!

I have had success growing it in a planter that over winters outdoors, where it returns every year.  Growing it in a container also controls its spread if you don’t want it to naturalize in large swaths.

The lime green foliage of the hardy begonias looks stunning underplanting my asiatic lilies and blackberry lilies in this planter. The begonia will flower long after the lilies, bringing sequential blooming interest in this planter.

The genus name Begonia, coined by Charles Plumier, a French patron of botany was  adopted by Linnaeus in 1753 and honors Michel Bégon, a former governor of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).

Hardy begonias are simply gorgeous, no maintenance plants that add so much color in the shade garden when just about everything else is done blooming.  They can be purchased in most quality nurseries or you can find a generous gardener like Lorelei to give you some!

Simply stunning.

Sources: missouribotanicalgarden.org; gardenista.com; wikipedia.org

17 thoughts on “Hardy Begonias

  1. Lovely post. I like the idea of plant it once and forget about it. You always enjoyed seeing these begonias at Chanticleer

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • Hi Diane! Lorelei will be dividing her begonias later this month and I am sure would be happy to give you some. She usually posts on the club FB’s page that she has some available and leaves them out by her side door. I will make sure to let you know when they are ready. Hope you are well. Miss seeing you. Xo

      Johanne Lamarche

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  2. Oh gosh Johanne, this brought back some warm memories for me. At first I was in awe reading it, thinking hardy begonias? Then I remembered that I had them in my old house before we moved here, and yes they do naturalize beautifully and can get up to 2 feet tall. When I think of all the space and the perennials I enjoyed there, it makes me sad that I don’t have them anymore, just don’t have the room. Sneezewood is another that I loved at this time of year. Still, I can enjoy your gardening posts from afar 🙂 Beautiful post!

    • Oh I am glad to have taken you down a gardening memory lane Loretta! I am not familiar with Sneezewood. I will have to look it up. I’ll be writing on yellow wax bells next. Waiting for mine to open to get the last picture. If you want to try some Hardy Begonias in a pot in your new home, I can dig some up for you next month. Off to Old Westbury NY to see those famous gardens today.

      Johanne Lamarche

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