20 Types of Begonias: Flowers, Leaves (With Pictures and Care Guide)

Types of Begonias

Begonia plants are famous for their spectacular colorful leaves and clusters of showy pink, red, yellow, orange, or white flowers. Species of begonia are grown as tropical tender perennials, bedding annuals, or houseplants. Popular types of begonia, such as wax begonias, tuberous begonias, and rex begonias, bloom through the summer and fall. When growing indoors, some begonia cultivars and hybrids produce flowers all year long.

There are over 2,000 varieties of flowering plants in the genus Begonia and family Begoniaceae. In addition, thousands of more begonia hybrids and cultivars are developed to produce attractive patterned foliage and abundant bright flowers.

An advantage of growing begonia flowers in the ground in warm climates or indoors in temperate regions is their low maintenance. In garden landscapes, begonias are ideal bedding plants that are easy to grow in borders, mixed beds, or as edging plants. Bushy flowering begonias are also perfect in container gardens, window boxes, or hanging baskets.

Growing begonias indoors in pots is also straightforward. As long as the begonia plant is out of direct sunlight and the potting mix is constantly moist, the houseplant will frequently bloom throughout the year.

This article is a complete guide to the most common types of begonias. Descriptions and pictures of begonia flowers and leaves will help identify these prolific bloomers. You will also find out which begonias grow outside in your area and the best begonias for growing indoors.

Do Begonia Plants Like Sun?

Begonias perform best in partial shade. In gardens, begonias grow well when planted in filtered sunlight. Direct, intense sunlight can damage the beautiful thick leaves. It’s good to note that darker-leafed begonias perform better in sunnier conditions.

To care for begonia indoors, place the container in a bright room, but protected from direct sunlight. A begonia potted houseplant grows best at an east-facing or west-facing window. If near a window facing south, it’s good to protect the plant behind a sheer curtain. Most begonias grow well in partial shade and north-facing rooms.

Is Begonia Annual or Perennial?

All species of begonias are tender perennials in USDA zones 10 and 11. In tropical and subtropical climates, begonias grow outside through the year in the shade or dappled sunlight. In milder regions, begonias may die back in winter and come back the following spring.

For most people, begonias are perennials that are treated as annuals. Begonia plants don’t tolerate frost, and cold weather can damage the roots and foliage.

It is possible to overwinter begonias by planting them in containers and bringing them indoors when the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C). With tuberous begonias, you can dig up the corms (tubers) in the fall and store them in a cool, dry place over winter. After the risk of frost in spring, you can plant the tubers back in your garden.

Are There Cold-Hardy Begonias?

Begonia grandis

Begonia grandis is a hardy begonia species

Begonia grandis is the only species of hardy begonias that survive outside in cold weather.

Hardy begonia cultivars thrive in USDA zones 6 to 9. The hardy begonias are tuberous, shade-loving perennials that have large green wing-shaped leaves with red undersides. The plants also have delicate clusters of small pink flowers dangling on the end of pinkish-red stems.

Cold-hardy begonias grow up to 24” (60 cm) tall and wide.

Some varieties of cold-hardy begonias include Begonia grandis ‘Alba’ with delicate white flowers and Begonia grandis ‘Torsa’ with large, broad leaves and clusters of pink flowers.

Begonia grandis ‘Alba’

Begonia grandis ‘Alba’

What are Strawberry Begonias?

Strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) is a plant that looks like a begonia but is from an unrelated family. The name strawberry begonia comes from the fact that it grows and spreads like strawberry plants. Due to its showy, broadly heart-shaped leaves, the plant is also referred to as a begonia.

strawberry begonia

Strawberry begonia

Types of Begonia Colors

Begonia plants are popular due to their colorful leaves and vibrantly colored flowers.

Begonia leaf colors are typically light to dark green on the top. Some begonias, especially showy rex begonias, have intricate patterns in silvery shades on the upper side. The pointed, heart-shaped begonia leaves can be in shades of purple, red, green and pink. A common characteristic of begonia leaves is that they may have red undersides.

begonia leaves

Leaves of rex begonia

Begonia flower colors tend to be various shades of pink and red. However, depending on the hybrid, you will find begonias flowers with yellow, orange, white, and peach colors. The beautiful colorful begonia flowers are typically showy clusters of single or double blooms.

To enjoy the best colors on begonia leaves and flowers, it’s vital to give the plants some indirect sun exposure.

Begonia flowers

Begonia flowers come in various shapes and colors

Common Types of Begonia

Although there are thousands of begonia varieties and hybrids, they are generally classified into several types. Some hybrids are two types of begonias, whereas other cultivars are from one species of begonia.

Wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens) are the most common type of begonia varieties. Typically grown as annuals, the plants have dark green waxy leaves and white, pink, or red flowers. Wax begonias are popular for hanging baskets, bedding, or growing in planters. These begonias are small growing plants that mature at 6” to 12” (15 – 30 cm) tall.

wax begonia

Wax begonia

Cane begonias have thick stems and an upright growth habit. Many types of cane begonias are known for their wing-shaped leaves with polka dot pattern and wide array of colorful flowers. Angel wing begonias and dragon begonias are types of cane begonias. In pots indoors, they reach 12” tall, outdoors up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall.

Angel wing Begonia

Angel wing begonia is a type of cane begonia

Rhizomatous Begonias have thick, fleshy roots and are grown for their leaves rather than flowers. These begonia cultivars and hybrids are also called ‘fancy-leaf,’ ‘king,’ or ‘painted leaf’ begonias. You can identify rhizomatous begonias by their fuzzy leaf texture.

Rhizomatous Begonias

Rhizomatous begonia. In the picture: Begonia soli-mutata (Sun-changing begonia)

Rex begonias have rhizomatous roots and are popular houseplants due to their pointed leaves with fascinating patterns. The bushy begonias usually grow between 12” and 18” (30 – 45 cm) tall and wide.

Tuberous begonias grow from roots called corms or tubers, but often called begonia bulbs. Begonia tubers produce some of the most spectacular blooms of all the begonia species. Typically grown as tender perennials if the corms are dug up and protected during winter.

tuberous begonia

Tuberous begonia

Types of Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum)

Wax begonia cultivars are popular flowering begonias with clusters of small four or five-petaled red, pink, or white flowers. Small round or ovate waxy leaves are a beautiful feature of these bedding begonias. Wax begonias are cold-hardy in zones 10 and 11, however they thrive indoors.

Related reading: How to care for wax begonias.

Here are some stunning examples of wax begonias:

Begonia Ambassador Scarlet

A compact wax begonia plant with pretty red flowers that have yellow centers. The red oval begonia flowers contrast nicely with small rounded glossy green leaves. Ideal for growing in hanging baskets, containers, or as an annual bedding plant in full sun to partial shade.

Begonia Ambassador Scarlet

Begonia Ambassador Scarlet

Cocktail Series Wax Begonia

A type of fibrous-rooted begonia with dark bronze, almost black foliage and delicate clusters of pink, red, and white blooms. Begonias in the ‘cocktail’ series grow up to 6” (15 cm). Plant in window boxes or as an annual bedding plant.

Begonia Cocktail Vodka

Begonia Cocktail ‘Vodka’

Wax Begonia ‘Party’ Series

Wax ‘party’ begonias have large waxy leaves and can tolerate a few hours of direct sunshine. The bright green wax begonia leaves also have a red tinge on the edges that complements the pink, scarlet red, or pinkish-white flowers. For spectacular wax begonias, look for varieties with double blooms. Typically grows up to 20” (50 cm) tall.

Begonia ‘Party’ Series Rose Pink

Begonia ‘Party’ Series Rose Pink

Senator White Wax Begonia

The dark bronze leaves and pure white blooms create a spectacular display when the wax begonias bloom. The ‘Senator White’ Begonia semperflorens cultivar is heat and drought tolerant and performs well as an annual in summer gardens.

Begonia Senator White

Begonia ‘Senator White’

Wax Begonia ‘Doublet Red’

The stunning feature of the doublet red wax begonia is its small, frilly, red, rose-like flowers contrasting with bronze-green shiny foliage. The succulent, heart-shaped begonia leaves stay dark green throughout the year. Grows up to 12” (30 cm) tall and wide.

Begonia 'Doublet Red'

Begonia ‘Doublet Red’

Types of Angel Wing Begonia (Begonia coccinea x Begonia aconitifolia)

Angel wing begonia

Angel wing begonia

The angel wing begonia is a type of cane begonia with ornamental wing-shaped leaves that have dotted or speckled patterns. This rapidly growing begonia has beautiful clusters of small pink, red and orange flowers dangling from red stems. Angel wing begonias grow between 12” to 20” (30 – 50 cm) tall and up to 24” (60 cm) wide.

Many angel wing begonia cultivars have polka dot leaves with toothed edges. So, even if you can’t get a begonia to bloom indoors, there is still plenty of interest from the foliage. The triangular leaves can grow up to 6” (15 cm) long.

Angel wing Begonia 'Corallina de Lucerna'

Angel wing Begonia ‘Corallina de Lucerna’

Angel wing begonias thrive in USDA zones 10 and 11. Indoors, the ornamental begonia thrives in average room temperatures and humidity. The long arching cane-like stems and dangling flowers make angel wing begonias suitable hanging basket plants.

Angel wing Begonia

Angel wing begonia with pink flowers

Here are a few outstanding angel wing begonia hybrids:

  • Begonia ‘Super Cascade’—This angel wing begonia has a spectacular array of colorful pink and red dangling flower clusters. The elegant showy flowers can measure up to 5” (13 cm) and create an eye-catching display.
  • Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’—This showy begonia has some of the largest blooms of any begonia. The stunning peach-colored flowers almost cover the ornamental wing leaves when in bloom.
  • Begonia ‘Million Kisses Elegance’—The clusters of delicate pink begonia flowers with their drooping oblong flowers help to enhance the beautiful leafy foliage.

Types of Rex Begonia (Begonia rex-cultorum)

Rex begonia are tuberous begonias that have some of the most spectacular foliage on any type of houseplant. The colorful leaves are slightly fuzzy and are characterized by prominent veining and interesting patterns. Some of the most stunning rex begonias have leaves with swirling patterns.

Although rex begonias produce flowers, they are not grown for their blooms. The plants grow between 1 and 1.5 ft. (30 – 45 cm) tall and wide.

Rex begonia leaf colors can be red, pink, silver, gray, purple, and dark green. Typically, the heart-shaped leaves have a dark-colored margin. Some leaves are silver or gray with contrasting dark-colored veins. Others have speckled patterns that look like splashed paint.

Here are some stunning types of rex begonias:

Begonia rex ‘Zurich’

The colorful pointed leaves of this rex begonia look like caladium leaves with their dark burgundy, pink, green and silver colors. The begonia’s heart-shaped leaves have a green margin, pink and silver patterns, and dark veining in the middle.

Begonia rex 'Zurich'

Begonia rex ‘Zurich’

Begonia rex ‘Paul Gibory’

The pointed heart-shaped leaves of begonia rex ‘paul gibory’ have edges with pointed lobes and small hair-like growths. The green leaf margins surround pink and lilac colors and there is a dark maroon center.

Begonia rex 'Paul Gibory'

Begonia rex ‘Paul Gibory’

Painted-leaf rex begonia

Also called King Begonia, the oval leaves grow in a spiral shape and have spiral patterning. The green and silvery-gray leaves have pinkish edges and a fuzzy texture.

painted leaf begonia

Painted leaf begonia

Rex begonia hybrid ‘J Gillinwators’

When this rex begonia hybrid blooms, delicate pink flowers appear with four petals growing on bright red stems.

Begonia Rex-hybrid 'J. Gillingwators'

Begonia Rex-hybrid ‘J. Gillingwators’

Rex begonia hybrid ‘Merry Christmas’

This rex begonia has bright lime-green leaves with prominent reddish-maroon veins and a slightly fuzzy texture to the leaf surface.

Begonia Rex-hybrid 'Merry Christmas'

Begonia Rex-hybrid ‘Merry Christmas’

Other Types of Begonias

Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia Maculata)

begonia maculata

Begonia maculata

The polka dot begonia has spectacular wing-leaves that have a rounded, lopsided base and pointed tips. Each green begonia leaf has polka dot patterns, making the oblong leaves look like they’re spotted with paint drops. The leaf underside has a reddish-purple color.

When in bloom, this cane begonia produces white or pink flowers with yellow stamens.

Polka dot begonias thrive in containers in average household conditions. They can grow up to 5 ft. tall.

Dragon Wing Begonia (Begonia x hybrida ‘Dragon Wings’)

Dragon wing begonia

Dragon wing red begonia

Dragon wing begonias are a hybrid species with shiny, lush green foliage and clusters of bright red or pink flowers. The shape of the dragon wing begonia leaves looks very similar to the ones of angel wing begonia and they grow 8” (20 cm) long. Dragon wing begonias grow around 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall.

Dragon wing begonias are often confused with angel wing begonias. To tell them apart, look at the leaves. Dragon wing begonias don’t have the polka dot patterns like most angel wing begonias.

Compared to other begonia cultivars, dragon wing begonias are extremely tolerant of heat and drought.

Rieger Begonia (Begonia × hiemalis)

Rieger Begonia (Begonia × hiemalis)

Rieger Begonia (Begonia × hiemalis)

Also called Elatior, Reiger begonia has dark green leaves with serrated edges and clusters of delicate pink, red, yellow, or orange single-petaled and double-petaled flowers. Reiger begonias have a relatively compact growth and look beautiful growing as houseplants. The Begonia hiemalis grows up to 12” (30 cm) tall and 15” (38 cm) wide.

Begonia × hiemalis

Rieger begonia flowers

Tuberous Begonia (Begonia × tuberhybrida)

Tuberous Begonia (Begonia × tuberhybrida)

Tuberous begonia (Begonia × tuberhybrida)

Tuberous begonias have some of the most outstanding flowers of any species of begonia. The colorful yellow, white, red, and orange blooms are large, rose-like flowers that bloom throughout summer. Tuberous begonias look amazing growing in window boxes, hanging baskets, planters, or mixed flower beds.

Here are some types of tuberous begonias with large, double rose-like flowers:

  • Begonia ‘Sunpleasures Apricot’
  • Begonia ‘Patio’ series
  • Begonia ‘Illumination’ series
  • Begonia ‘Non-Stop Joy Mocca White’

Boliviensis Begonia (Begonia boliviensis)

Boliviensis Begonia (Begonia boliviensis)

Boliviensis begonia

Boliviensis begonias are a type of begonia with tuberous roots that produces lanceolate leaves and small dangling flowers with five oblong petals. The attractive feature of Boliviensis begonia is the long, cascading stems that are abundant with leafy foliage and fiery-red or orange flowers.

The trailing begonia has dangling stems that grow 12” to 16” (30 – 40 cm) long and the mounding growth has a spread up to 16” (40 cm). Ideal for hanging baskets, grow the begonia in indirect sun or partial shade. Also the red-blooming stems spilling over the edge look magnificent in tall containers or sunny window boxes.

With enough sunlight, the heat and drought tolerant begonias will bloom throughout the summer until the frost.

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