Different Types of Begonias
brief description of the different types of begonias, click the link
for each type to go to a more detailed page for that type.
Cane begonias have been popular plants for many years and
were probably grown by your Grandmother who called them "Angel Wing"
begonias. Many types have been created since then and those grown by
Grandmother are probably still in cultivation. There are several types
of canes in varying sizes but they all have in common tough stems that
have a bamboo appearance, which gives them the cane handle. The superba
canes generally grow the largest and can have leaves up to about 14
long and can grow to 12 feet high. They are usually kept smaller and
compact than that though. They have leaves that are cut and most types
have silver spots or splashes on them. They have large flower clusters
and some are fragrant. They are most popular in the southern states
they are grown outdoors in frost free areas but can also be grown quite
well indoors or in a greenhouse. Two begonia hybridizers, Irene Nuss
Belva Kusler created many of the first superbas to become popular, and
Irene's hybrid B.'Irene Nuss' and Belva's B.'Sophie Cecile' are the two
most widely circulated superbas of all time. The other most popular
of cane is the type formally called "angel wing" begonias. These
come in every size from types commonly grown in baskets to large
plants but all have the familiar pointed leaf shape that gave them
former common name. This type is still widely grown and many new
are created every year. Many have silver spotted/splashed leaves and
have different serrated edges. Most are heavy bloomers, some even
There are other types which fall somewhere between the two types
above and there is also the mallet type canes. These are not as widely
grown because they are more tender. They have leaves in various colors,
most purple, pink or white. They are spectacular looking.
Shrubs are also very variable and can range in size from miniatures to giants 12
tall. Some varieties have leaves up to 24 inches long under perfect
The leaf surface is also variable and some have smooth shiny leaves and
other types have hairy or felted leaves. This type gets its name from
way it grows with many shoots coming up from the soil to make a full
like any other shrub you would grow. They are very multi-stemmed. Most
varieties do not bloom as often or as heavily as the cane type but
are many that are ever blooming and are used as bedding plants across
country. The shrub type is grown mostly for it's ease of growing,
leaves, and full growth. Most shrubs have white flowers but there are
of pink and red ones also, and many have hairy flowers.
The rhizomatous types are grown mostly for their interesting leaves and
compact growth but they have the added bonus of a massive display of
usually in the spring, that cover the whole plant. Most are spring
but there are a few that bloom all year. They range in size from tiny
to large plants like B.'Freddie' that can have 3 foot leaves under
conditions (one growing outdoors in Hawaii grew that large). The
plants can also grow very large across but don't reach great heighth,
they grow from rhizomes that creep along the ground, which gives this
its name. The rhizomatous types are popular all across the country and
one in particular B.'Erythrophylla' was probably grown by your
who called it a beef steak begonia because of it's large round leaves.
(I know I've said grown by your Grandmother several times but I don't
to give you the impression that begonias are only grown by
I only want to reaquaint you with past memories and give you an idea of
how long begonias have been around) Some types of rhizomatous have
patterns on their leaves in almost any earthtone color, some are hairy
leaved, some are round and shiny, and some are star shaped. There is
no end to the variety of leaf shape, color and texture in this type of
begonia, there is something for every taste.
This type of begonia is probably the most widely grown
and in some parts of the country is called "wax type" because
of the waxy look to the leaves. These begonias are grown mostly as
plants and annuals but are really a perennial shrub type of begonia in
areas that don't freeze. All have rounded leaves and are ever-blooming and
the flowers come in every shade of red, pink and white. The leaves come
mostly in two colors, green and bronze, but there are variegated types
such as B. `Charm' and calla types with new leaves that come out white.
The flowers come in single and double types. Some of the species
have felted white or brown leaves.
Tuberous: The tuberous type of begonia is also very popular around the world as a
bedding plant and also as a greenhouse plant. In some countries such as
England it is the main type grown. The tuberous types are grown for
although there are a few varieties and speciess which have interesting
and growth. The flower size can range from small 1/2 inch flowers to
large exhibition types that can have flowers the size of dinner plates.
The flowers range in type from singles to full doubles and come in
color exept shades of blue. There are even flowers with different color
edges and some are scented. The plant types range from trailing types
are grown in hanging baskets with pendulant flowers to sturdy upright
The tuberous types grow from tubers and go dormant during short days
the fall and winter. They are restarted in the spring. Another related
type is the semi-tuberous which don't have a tuber but which have form
a caudex at the base. This caudex is like a large swollen stem from
many smaller stems grow. Most semi-tuberous have small leaves and small
white flowers, but at least a couple are pink. They make almost a
bonzai with their swollen base and small stems and leaves.
the showboats of the begonia world and are a type of rhizomatous
that are grown for their multicolored leaves. Their leaves come in
color, pattern and shade, and every size and shape. All Rex Culturum
are descended from the Indian speciess B. rex that was crossed with other
tyes of rhizomatous begonias. Rex begonias do bloom but are not grown
their blooms which pale in comparison to their spectacular leaves.
The trailing type of begonias are grown mostly for their trailing
habit but put on a spectacular show of flowers, usually in the spring.
Some of the newer varieties have a longer blooming period or are
Most have glossy leaves and look like a philodendron, but there are
that get large leaves and will climb. In their native habitat these
will climb up the trunks of trees. Most of the trailing types have
or pink flowers. Scandent refers to begonias that climb and use roots to attach to trees, rocks, steep banks, and walls.
types are not as widely grown but come in various
The common factor between them is their very thick stems. Most
types don't branch much but send up new growth from the base. They also
show off the thick stems because they drop their lower leaves and
only have leaves on the tips. These can be very attractive and are
unusual if you're looking for something different to grow. One
thick-stemmed B. valida even has cream variegation during the warm
months of the year.
to Home Page