I do a lot of container garden, almost all of it flowers. This is the time of the year when I look around at the various containers and decide what’s grown well and what hasn’t been so good.
This year the clear winner in the container gardening category is a variety of begonias.
A large pot in a location that gets afternoon shade from a tree is home to three Big™ begonias that I started from seed in February. The variety I’m growing is rose with bronze leaves. This plant is just amazing. It’s a hybrid that’s part angel wing begonia and part fibrous rooted begonia. Unlike fibrous rooted begonias of the past, it can take full sun or partial shade. Like it’s angel wing parentage, the plants are huge, growing up to 2′ tall and wide. This begonia has been blossoming since late spring and it’s shown no sign of slowing down. The only thing I would do differently next year is that I’d just one plant in the pot – three is a overkill!
In addition to the Big™ variety, I also have a pot with a tradition angel wing begonia. This begonia gets its name from the shape of the leaves – they look like angel wings. While Big™ is an upright grower, angel wing begonias drape over the side of the pot. In full sun, one plant in a large pot blossoms from spring until fall.
The other begonia is Santa Cruz™ Sunset. This plant with a mounding/trailing growth habit is amazing. It’s filled a pot and has been putting out an endless flow of orange/red flowers on plants that remain neat and clean – no need for trimming or dead-heading. Here in PA it does well in full sun though hotter parts of the country might need to give it a little shade. The leaves have a little texture to them unlike the glossy leaves of Big™ and angel wings, adding an interesting contrast.
All of these begonias have been blossoming non-stop since spring. I’ve had no problems with insects or disease. I’m planning on growing more of the Big™ variety from seed next year. While these are catching on around the country, they’re still a little hard to find in garden centers. I’m thinking of taking a cutting of the Santa Cruz™ Sunset begonia to see if I can keep alive over the winter. If not, I know I can find it to plant again next year.
Begonias for the garden used to be limited to small fibrous begonias and tuberous begonias. Both of these grew in the shade and were prone to various diseases. Begonias have come a long way since the 60s and 70s. Now they’re strong plants that resist disease and grow in sun and shade. And for me, they’re the winners of this year’s container gardens.