There are over 1500 species of Begonias which belong to the Begoniaceae family. They are native to Asia, Africa and Central and South America, but most of them grow in equatorial countries.
Begonia produces single and double blooms which are showy and available in various colors, with delicate and smooth petals. These flowers are easy to grow and do well in the shade.
Charles Plumier (1646-1704), a French botanist and monk, is known for his discovery of Begonias.
Plumier named Begonias after Michel Begon, an 18th century governor of the French colony of Santo Domingo (today called Dominican Republic).
When given away, Begonia means “be cautious” or “be aware”.
It also symbolizes a fanciful nature.
Interesting facts about Begonia
Discovery of Begonia
Begonia was firstdiscovered by Charles Plumier in 1690, on the island of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). He named the plant after the French governor of Haiti, Michel Begon, who was his favorite botanist.
Begonia seeds are one of the smallest in the world.
Though many flower seeds are small, Begonia and Petunia seeds are among the smallest. They are small and not differentiated easily with the naked eye. The seed of the Begonia plant is about 1/100th of an inch in size. They are small, but tenacious!
Begonias are categorized according to root types into fibrous-rooted, tuberous, and rhizomatous.
Fibrous-rooted Begonias have only fibrous roots, therefore neither rhizomes nor tubers. They prefer bright light and are more sun tolerant, but too much sun can cause the leaves to burn. Begonia coccinea is a popular fibrous-rooted species.
Tuberous Begonias grow from tubers, which are underground storage organs for both food and water. They are grown for their single or double flowers, although there are some species which have interesting leaves. Tuberous Begonias are shade-loving plants, but they can handle morning or late afternoon sunlight. These types, such as Begonia grandis, are popular around the world as a bedding plant.
Rhizomatous Begonias grow from a modified stem called a rhizome, which is a thickened underground stem that grows horizontally, sprouting new sections along the rhizome. They are valued more for their attractive foliage than their flowers. Begonia tenuifolia and Begonia masoniana are examples of rhizomatous species.
Begonias in North Korea
Kimjongila, a hybrid cultivar of tuberous begonia, is a flower named in honor of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. It was cultivated by Japanese horticulturist Kamo Mototeru and represents the Juche revolutionary.
Benefits and Uses of Begonia
Begonias have a history of medicinal uses. The plant has been used to treat burns, kidney ailments and toothache.
They were also used to polish sword blades.
Today, Begonias are often used as ornamental plants and there are numerous hybrids and varieties.
Begonia Plant Data
Annuals, Bulbs, Perennials
Begonias come in many different colors, but mostly in red, white, yellow, orange and pink.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
Begonias can grow from 20 to 60 cm (8 inches - 2 ft) in height.
Begonias prefer moist, well-drained and more acidic soil. They have a low tolerance for drought.