Planting Annuals - Begonias (with video)

ProPlugger Co - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

begoniasEasy to grow, petite and beautiful, these are adjectives that describe begonias. Wax begonias (not to be confused with tuberous begonias, which are normally grown in flower pots and planters) are a perennial flower that can be started from plugs in the spring or planted in the fall for winter flowering in areas of the country that don’t experience prolonged freezing temperatures (they can handle a light frost). In the northern regions of the country they’re planted as annuals, although they can be brought inside in the fall and overwintered as a houseplant.

Begonias are easy to care for and will give you nonstop flowering throughout the winter months. They bloom in red, scarlet, rose, pink and white. Their waxy leaves are attractive and come in green, bronze or brownish.

This variety of begonia can be potted up at any time and brought inside and grown as a houseplant. Cut back one third of the plant before potting it up and fertilize lightly with a houseplant fertilizer.

How to Plant Wax Begonias

Seeing is believing!

When to Plant

Plant begonias in the spring time as they become available in the garden centers (and after the last hard frost in the northern climates). You can also plant them in the fall in parts of the country where it doesn't freeze over the winter.


Where to Plant Begonias

Wax begonias do best in part shade, particularly during the summer months, but will do well in full sun when planted over the winter as a perennial. Use these compact plants in borders and/or to mass plant in a flower bed.For best results plant begonias in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Moderate light is best for most begonias though many tolerate low light.  Bright light will damage most begonias, though it does not burn many cultivars of wax begonia.

planting annuals

Planting Depth for Begonias

Wax begonias are considered a bedding plant. They are normally sold in cell packs and should be planted to the depth they grew in the container; in other words, bury the root ball it is growing in. You don’t need to break the root ball apart before planting. The 5-IN-1 (shown right) with its' adapter plates, can quickly dig planting holes for bulbs and annuals 2", 4" and even 6" deep...all from a comfortable, standing position. (see video below)

Spacing Begonias

Space begonias about 4-6 inches apart.

Watering Begonias

Begonias should be kept moist and for many the medium should be allowed to dry between each watering. Although some will tolerate having wet soil, most do not. Avoid water with high salt content, especially sodium, as this will burn the plants and damage the very fine roots.

ProPlugger Pointer

The versatile ProPlugger 5-IN-1 will make planting 2-3 flats of wax begonias a snap, while sparing you a lot of uncomfortable bending over or kneeling...and it's so easy to use:

  • Slide one of the adapter plates (rings) provided onto the end of the ProPlugger to set the depth of the planting hole.
  • Next, step down on the sturdy foot-peg, letting your body weight and gravity do most of the work.
  • Give the handlebar a slight twist to break the soil plug loose, pull straight up and you've dug your first planting hole! The soil gets stored in the tool as you work and when it's full, simply turn the plugger over and it empties right out. 

Take me to the 5-IN-1 product page

Feeding / Fertilizing Begonias

Wax begonias will require only a light feeding of an all purpose (10-10-10) fertilizer right after planting. Mulching around the plants with aged compost or well rotted manure will achieve the same effect as a light feeding of fertilizer, and will also protect the plant from a light freeze.

Disease and Pest Problems

Begonias are susceptible to powdery mildew and gray mold, both fungus diseases that can be controlled with a fungicide, such as Captan or a copper based fungicide, such as Soap Shield from Gardens Alive. Proper spacing and good air circulation are good preventative measures.

Mealy bugs can also be a problem. Check your plants before they leave the nursery for infestation as mealy bugs are hard to eradicate. According to the American Begonia Society "The easiest and least toxic mealy bug killer is plain rubbing alcohol. For a badly infested plant you can put the alcohol in a spray bottle and spray the entire plant. It won't harm the plant, but avoid spraying the soil directly as a precaution."

Neil Moran is a horticulturist and author of three books on gardening. He is also the creator and author of the garden blog North Country Gardening

Additional Resources for Begonias

American Begonia Society

Be sure to check out the helpful information on our website, including other uses for the ProPlugger including:
  1. Bulb planter
  2. Bedding (& annual flower) planter
  3. Weeding tool
  4. Ground cover planter