Begonias are one of the most classic flowering annuals of all – and certainly a flower that with just a bit of help, you can keep blooming from late spring all the way until late fall.
These old-time favorite flowers are well known for their colorful prolific blooms and their dense green foliage. Their blooms range in colors from red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. Begonias are popular in hanging baskets, containers, pots, flowerbeds, and even planted directly in the landscape.
Most species of begonias are of tropical or subtropical origins and only grow as perennials in zones 9 and 10. In all other regions, begonias are treated as annuals that are brought indoors during the winter.
Begonias are wonderful for planting with perennials. There lush foliage and blooms go great with a wide variety of perennials in beds or containers. Even better, they also happen to look beautiful next to other summer-blooming annuals such as portulaca, cosmos, and nasturtiums – especially when you can keep them blooming strong all summer long.
How To Keep Begonias Blooming All Summer Long
Overall, there are four main tips to keep in mind when it comes to keeping begonias blooming all season long. At the top of that list of four is picking the right location.
#1: Pick The Right Location – How To Keep Begonias Blooming
Unlike some annuals, most begonias varieties prefer to have a bit of shade throughout the day. For these plants, choose a location that receives most of its sunlight either early in the morning or later at night for best results.
This allows the begonias to get a break from the harshest afternoon rays of the sun, which tend to be a lot hotter and more intense. Allowing a bit of shade in the afternoon will provide the plant with less stress, which in turn equals more blooms.
However, since there are so many different varieties of begonias available, be sure to check with your specific variety. Some hybrids may actually require more sunlight or be able to handle full sun.
#2: Proper Soil – How To Keep Begonias Blooming
As with most plants, soil quality is of utmost importance to ensure that plants get off to the right start. It doesn’t matter if the begonias are planted in hanging baskets, containers, or right in the ground, the soil is the foundation to good health. Good soil will equal good blooms!
Even though begonias are from tropical regions, they do not grow well in overly saturated soil. Just like potatoes, tuberous plants are susceptible to rotting when they aren’t allowed to dry out between watering or rainfall.
When planting directly in the ground, be sure to choose a location that has well-draining soil that is loose and fertile. Amend compacted soil with plenty of compost and even include a bit of sand. Not only will the compost help loosen the soil, but it will also provide extra nutrients and organic matter as well.
The same goes for potted plants. Be sure to choose a high-quality potting soil mix that includes plenty of perlite or vermiculite to allow for better drainage. Remember always that the better the soil, the better chance for continual blooms.
#3: Fertilize Frequently – How To Keep Begonias Blooming
Any plant that produces multiple blooms will use up a lot of nutrients from the soil to do so. Before long, the soil will quickly become depleted of those resources needed for new blooms to be formed.
It doesn’t matter whether the plant is in the ground or in a pot, the soil will need a bit of help to keep blooms forming all season long. Once nutrients are gone from the soil, it is time to replace them with energy from a fertilizer.
Aim for using a low dose of fertilizer every 10 to 14 days for best results when growing in containers. Plants in the ground can get by with a low dose every three to four weeks.
The key here is to make sure you use a low dose of fertilizer, not one at full strength for best results. Low and steady is the name of the game for begonias!
If you give begonias too much fertilizer at once, the plants will begin to produce excess foliage and roots as opposed to beautiful blooms. Also, for potted begonias, large doses of fertilizer can cause plants to quickly outgrow their container long before the season is over.
The Right Dose of Fertilizer
When fertilizing, use only half to a quarter of the recommended dose. This will keep a steady by good supply of nutrients flowing to the plants. For best results, liquid fertilizers are the way to go. They get to the plants in two ways, through the soil, and through the foliage.
Worm casting tea or compost tea are great alternatives to traditional liquid fertilizers. Not only are they 100% natural, they give a great boost of energy to the plants. If using a commercial liquid fertilizer, cut the dose amount in half to give a more steady dose of nutrients.
#4: Adequate Watering – How To Keep Begonias Blooming
Last but most definitely not least, proper watering is a must to keep your begonias blooming. As mentioned above, too much water can cause begonias to start to rot and decay, but not enough will hurt them as well.
If a plant has too much water, leaves will start to turn yellow and eventually dry and drop off. Most often if your begonia plants are struggling to produce blooms or even grow altogether, overwatering is likely the culprit.
However, the opposite can also have catastrophic issues as well. Begonias need to have moisture in the soil in order for their roots to continue to grow and produce foliage and blooms. Dry soil will cause stunted growth and a lack of blooms, too.
In Ground vs. Containers – How To Keep Begonias Blooming
For flowerbeds and in-ground planted begonias, aim for around one inch of rainfall or hand watering each week. For hanging baskets and container plants, you may need to water them daily, especially during hot spells.
The main goal is to check to make sure the soil has dried out slightly between watering. Use your index finger to check the soil moisture. If the soil is dry an inch or more down into the ground or container, then it’s time to water. If it’s still moist, then hold off on watering for that day.
Water begonias early in the morning if possible. This will help ensure that the moisture is in the soil before the heat of the day arrives. It also allows the soil to dry out slightly as the day progresses.
Here is to keeping your begonias blooming strong all season long!
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