Begonias are a go-to favorite for many gardeners, experienced and beginners alike. The bright, stunning blooms, ranging from pale, creamy hues to rich, dark colors, spice up any garden. While these colorful blossoms are easy enough to take care of, extra TLC goes a long way.
Many seasoned gardeners have a preferred fertilizer, but beginners might not. So, which fertilizer should you use on begonias? Is Miracle-Gro a good option? We’re here to help, so continue reading to learn more!
Types Of Begonias
Plants come in hundreds of thousands of different types, and among each type, you’ll find different cultivars. Begonias are no different, with over 1,200 known species in the Begoniaceae family. It is one of the biggest flowering plant groups, consisting of three main types and dozens of cultivars.
Each type of begonia is classified by its root system, so cultivars are divided into each type based on their root system.
These plants are grown from potato-like tubers and are a popular pick in the begonia family. They’re a solid choice for bedding plants because of their rapid growth and eye-catching blooms that last for months on end, all the way from early summer to late fall.
Tuberous begonias can be anywhere from a few inches tall to over a foot in height. In some cases, they produce single blooms, while others boast double blooms. These blooms can grow quite large, with some reaching up to 6 inches in diameter (although it depends on the species).
Fibrous begonias feature a root system standard for many plants, with the roots extending down into the soil. Like tuberous begonias, these plants are popular for bedding or container plants and come in varying colors.
Many gardeners incorporate the bright blooms into window boxes and hanging baskets, as they tend to flourish in these settings. Certain begonia species within this category can develop long, soft canes that spill over the planter’s edge in stunning bursts of color.
Unlike the other two types, rhizomatous begonias are better known for their beautiful foliage than blooms. Although some species within this category bloom, they’re better known for their colorful leaves, which can range from pale, almost white hues to rich green, purples, and reds. While the other types usually feature green foliage, these begonias can display various colors.
The roots on rhizomatous begonias feature characteristic knobby, horizontal stems that extend along the top of the soil instead of down into the planter.
Popular Species Cultivars
Begonias come from around the world, offering gardeners dozens of options to pick from. The sheer abundance of choices can be overwhelming, but there are a few that seem to remain among the top picks.
Here are a few of the most popular begonia species cultivars to consider:
- ‘Rex’ Begonias (Begonia rex var.)
- ‘Doublet White’ Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
- ‘Rose Begonia’ (Begonia x tuberhybridia)
- ‘Cocktail Series’ Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
- ‘Wax’ Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
- ‘Dusty Rose’ Begonia (Begonia x tuberhybridia)
Should You Fertilize Begonias?
Begonias can be fussy plants, requiring extra care to flourish. While you can probably get by with watering regularly and no additions (like fertilizers), you’ll usually get better results with a few extra steps.
For the most part, begonias bloom just fine without fertilizer. That said, many gardeners notice a difference when they add fertilizer to their begonias, which boast better overall health and more vibrant blooms.
Of course, fertilizer won’t compensate for the lack of necessities in other areas. For example, a lack of water or depleted soil quality will undermine your plants, even if you add fertilizer. When you plant your begonias in good quality soil, water regularly, and ensure the plants get enough sunlight, fertilizer just amplifies your results.
What Fertilizer Is Best For Begonias?
Healthy begonias grow vigorously, producing full, stunning blooms regularly. To support healthy growth, many gardeners choose to add fertilizer. The fertilizer you add is entirely up to you and your preferences, but if you’re unsure which one to pick, here are a few potential options.
In the world of fertilizers, Miracle-Gro is a well-known face in the crowd. Millions of gardeners use this fertilizer on various plants, from flower beds to vegetable gardens and trees. It’s a very versatile fertilizer, although the company does offer a few different formulas for varying scenarios.
If you’re looking for a good fertilizer for your begonias, Miracle-Gro is an excellent option.
Begonias tend to flourish with the addition of all-purpose fertilizers or those with fairly equal nutrient percentages. Of course, the needs of your begonias can vary based on the particular plant.
A balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer formulated for slow release is an excellent choice for begonias. The slow-release formulation helps lower the likelihood of your plants sustaining damage from fertilizer burn.
Dozens of manufacturers offer these types of fertilizers, including the following:
- Envy Professional Grade All-Purpose Plant Food
- Peter’s 20-20-20 General Purpose Fertilizer
- Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 All Purpose Fertilizer
- Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All-Purpose Plant Food
- Burpee Natural Purpose Granular Organic Plant Food
- Liqui-Dirt Nano Powder All-Purpose Organic Complete Plant Food
Begonia Care Tips
Begonias can be finicky plants, especially if you choose specific cultivars. However, every cultivar tends to share similar requirements, including fertilizing, water, soil, and light.
Get The Right Amount Of Sunlight
Many plants have specific light requirements – some flourish in direct sunlight, while others prefer full shade. Begonias can’t tolerate hours on end of full, direct sunlight, but they don’t perform well in constant shade.
Instead, begonias tend to like partial shade and soft light. If you’re planting outside or in a hanging basket/window planter, the best spots tend to be on the north or east side of your home. Ideally, there would be a large tree or covered patio to filter the sunlight and protect the plant from direct sun.
If you grow your begonias in heavily shaded areas, your flowering tuberous and fibrous begonias will probably grow more leaves than blooms. Rhizomatous begonias, known for their foliage, tend to flourish in more shade.
Add Fertilizer To The Mix
Fertilizing your begonias is a good idea since they’re considered heavy feeders. Generally, a well-balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or a 20-20-20 blend, is a solid option.
Dilute the fertilizer at a ratio of three parts water to one part fertilizer immediately after you plant (or transplant) the begonia. After that, fertilize the plant regularly every three weeks.
When you apply the fertilizer solution, pour it around the base instead of directly onto the plant’s leaves. Some species have fragile leaves and stems that may be injured by direct contact with a potent fertilizer.
Choose The Right Soil
You can do everything else right, but without good-quality, well-drained soil, your begonias might not flourish. Make sure you amend the soil with the proper organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to account for areas where the soil is lacking.
Choose well-draining soil to ensure the roots can drain off excess water efficiently, as waterlogged soil can rot the roots.
Although begonias tend to enjoy humid climates, wet or soggy soil can cause root rot. Watering enough is essential, but not too much, as waterlogged soil can cause issues.
In drier weather, water your begonias enough to keep the soil damp but not waterlogged. Freshen the plant with rejuvenating mist for about 15 minutes daily in the afternoon heat.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are Begonias Perennials?
Yes and no – most begonias are annuals, meaning they only last one season. However, some rhizomatous and hardy begonias (B. grandis) are perennial in warmer regions, so they’ll reappear each year.
If you have tuberous begonias, you can save tubers from the plant to replant the following year. Or, you can bring annual begonias in as houseplants throughout the cooler months. If you do this, make sure to keep an eye out for fungus, which is a common issue with indoor begonias. A broad-spectrum fungicide can help correct this issue.
How Long Will Begonias Bloom For?
For the most part, begonias bloom continuously throughout the season. They’re bred to bloom regularly with little to no effort on your part. The exact blooming time frame depends on your climate, but they usually bloom continuously from early summer to late fall.
When Should I Plant My Begonias?
The best time to plant begonias hinges on the climate you live in. Begonias may suffer damage due to temperatures below 50 degrees, regardless of the type. However, tuberous begonias cannot grow in cold soil, so they are best for warmer climates.
Generally, the best time to plant is in late spring, when the temperature lows regularly exceed 50 degrees. So, whether you’re transplanting nursery begonias or planting seeds, try to wait until warmer temperatures arrive.