Begonia Corallina hybrid.
Begonia Corallina hybrid.

Try these tropical show-stoppers

Lots of tropical plants are at their peak in late summer and autumn. They spend the first few months of the warm season growing, and then, as the cooler weather approaches (I know, it doesn't seem as though there is cool weather on the way, but it will happen), they start to flower.

Begonias are no exception, and there are so many different types it's easy to see how people can become besotted with these beauties. They may be a bit old-fashioned, but they have been popular for a long time for good reason - they are very showy, and pretty easy to grow.

Perhaps the most commonly grown begonias are the ones we know as bedding begonias. They grow to about 25cm tall, and have masses of edible flowers that can be white, pink or red. Some have green leaves, and some have bronze. They are annuals, flowering profusely for about six months, and are best grown in full sun to semi-shade. They are often planted in public gardens as they are so easy to grow, and free-flowering.

Rex begonias are mostly grown for their foliage. They have exquisite patterning, mostly in shades of red, black, green and silver. They have flowers that are similar to the bedding begonias, but these are often hidden beneath the showy foliage. Rex begonias are perennials, and are best grown in a protected shaded position. They make a lovely potted plant and will do well indoors if you can resist the urge to overwater. They will quickly rot and die if they get too wet. Place them in a well-lit position out of direct sun, and keep them a bit on the dry side.

But I think my favourites are the tree-cane begonias. As their name suggests, these can get really tall, up to 2m in fact. They may have attractive colours and patterns on their large leaves. But what they may lack in foliage drama they make up for when it comes to flowering time. They produce wonderful pendulous bunches of flowers, usually red, white, pink or orange, right through until early winter. They will grow happily in a semi-shaded garden bed, and make a spectacular potted plant.

With so many choices there is definitely room for more than one begonia in your garden.

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