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Begonia - Wax or Bedding Begonia

Genus: Begonia.

Species: Begonia semperflorens-cultorum.

Common name: Wax or bedding begonia
Botanic name: Begonia semperflorens-cultorum
Family: Begoniaceae

In tropical or subtropical climates, the wax begonia is a perennial plant that can grow to the size of a small shrub. In cooler climates, it is grown as an annual.

A group of hybrid cultivars, Begonia x semperfloren-cultorum, is the most widely planted. This group probably originated from a cross between Begonia cucullata var Hookeri and Begonia schmidtiana. The genus Begonia is unusual because all 1500+ species can be hybridized with one another, even those that originated on different continents.

Begonia semperflorens-cultorum was named for its long bloom period, from semperflorens, meaning 'everblooming'. The common name, wax begonia, refers to the waxy sheen of the leaves. The genus was named in honor of Michel B├ęgon (1638-1710), a French amateur botanist who collected begonias from while he was stationed in Santo Domingo with the French navy.

Wax begonias are prized for their constant bloom and the uniformity of size and shape within each variety.

These plants grow from six to eighteen inches tall with a spread of six to twelve inches, depending on the variety. The foliage can be green, bronze, or red; some varieties are variegated, and a few have white leaves. The flowers come in shades red, pink, and white, and a few varieties have double flowers. The flowers are held on succulent stems among shiny bronze or green leaves, providing colour in sun or shade from late spring until winter. Wax begonias tolerate hot humid conditions well.

Wax begonias or fibrous begonias are good for mass planting, as edging plants or in containers and window boxes. Not suitable for cut flowers. The best plants can be lifted as fall approaches to be kept indoors. Plants can be propagated from cuttings.

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