Begonias are beautiful plants that are popular in gardens and as houseplants. It’s natural to wonder if they can come back every year, or if you need to replant them; but do begonias come back every year?
Unfortunately, begonias are annuals in most climates. This means that they do not grow back each year. Instead, if you want to have begonias every year, you’ll need to replant them.
Begonias are native to tropical and subtropical areas. Some species have variegated or asymmetrical foliage. Others produce bright blooms throughout the summer.
They can vary in size from 6-12 inches for smaller varieties to up to 5 feet for large varieties that are grown outdoors.
Some types of begonias will bloom all year long, particularly when kept indoors. Other types typically bloom in the early summer through fall, until frost comes, if they are outdoors.
Types of Begonias
Wax begonias have succulent stems. The stems are shiny and rounded. The leaves are green or reddish brown. They grow in a mound shape. The blooms are about 1- 1 1/2 single or double flowers. They can be red, pink, or white.
Tuberous Begonias can be either upright or trailing. They have green or deep red leaves. They can have single, double, or ruffled blooms. Their flowers can be pink, yellow, orange, red, or white.
Angel wing begonias produce dark green leaves with white speckles or streaks that remain all year round. The underside of the leaves is typically deep red, which provides a beautiful contrast. They have tough, bamboo-like stems. They produce delicate pink flowers.
Are Begonias Perennials?
Begonias can last for a few years indoors. If you want to grow them in containers, you can expect them to continue to grow and bloom for at least 2 to 3 years.
However, begonias can’t survive frost. If they are planted outside. they will die when the frost comes. You’ll need to replant them in the spring to enjoy them the next season.
Of course, if you live in a tropical or subtropical zone, begonias can be perennials. Begonias can not tolerate frost. If they get frost damage, they will die.
This means that all begonias are technically perennials. However, for practical purposes, most climates will experience them as annuals, because they die due to frost.
Shade Loving Begonias
Many types of begonias require lots of shade. When planted in the garden, they do well with other shade preferring plants, like hostas.
Tuberous begonias require a significant amount of shade. Without enough sun, the begonias will not bloom properly. However, too much sun can harm the begonias.
Give them at least 4-6 hours of shade per day. They prefer cooler summers, but do well in zones 9-11 as long as they are provided shade.
Rex begonias require more shade than tuberous begonias. They need at least 4-6 hours of shade each day. They are less sun tolerant than tuberous begonias.
They can thrive in the early morning sun with shade throughout the rest o the day. They also do well with bright indirect light, out of direct sun exposure. They also do well indoors.
Hardy begonias, scientifically known as Begonia grands, do well in more northern zones. They can be grown in zones 6 and 7. They can reach 2 feet or more in height. They thrive in very shady conditions.
They do well with little direct sunlight. Indirect light is all that needed to keep them healthy. They have large, heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are typically blue-green on top, and red or burgundy underneath. In a summer breeze, the colors of the leaves will flash beautifully.
Sun Loving Begonias
Begonias are known as shade-loving plants, but this isnt’ true for all species. Some species actually prefer full sun.
Some wax begonias, and a few other species, including Dragon Wing Red and the Big Series begonias do well with full sun and heat. These plants thrive in zones 10 and 11.
Wax begonias with bronze leaves do the best in full sun. These include Victory and Cocktail. Wax begonias with green leaves can also thrive in the sun, but they do need some shade.
Dragon Wing and Big Series begonias aren’t quite as sun tolerant as wax begonais, but they can tolerate a significant amount of heat and sun.
In gardening terms, full sun means that they receive at least 6 hours of full sun a day. Begonias do best if they receive morning and afternoon sun, with a little shade in the hottest part of the day.
Growing or Propagating Begonias
If you plan to grow begonias as annuals, you will likely want to grow new begonias every year. There are two methods of growing begonias. You can grow them from seeds, or propagate them from cuttings.
Propagating begonias is the fastest method of getting new begonias. Simply cut a few healthy leaves from the plant.
If you want to propagate lots of begonias, you can turn the leaves upside down, and slice them into wedges. You’ll need a vein in every piece of leaf. You can make several baby plants with one leaf with this method.
If you only want a few new plants, this step isn’t necessary.
When removing leaves, you’ll need to leave 1/2 to 1 inch of the petiole attached to the leaf.
Fill a tray with potting mix. You can also use perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss for the tray. Place the tray in a plastic bag to retain heat and moisture.
You’ll want to place it an area with indirect light, but not full sun. It should also be warm. Mist them when needed to keep them moist, but not wet.
You can also propagate the cuttings in water. Just slip them into a small glass or container.
Roots should begin to form in 2-3 weeks. By 6 to 8 weeks, they are ready to plant.
Growing Begonias From Seed
Growing begonias from seed is a longer process than propagating them. It’s best to start the plants indoors. Place the seeds into potting mix, and keep the soil moist, but not saturated with water.
Allow them to grow for at least 3 months. Once they are 3 months old, they should be ready to plant.
You’ll need to wait until there’s no risk of frost to plant them outdoors.
Whether or not your begonias will return year after year depends on your climate. If you live in an area with little to no frost, the begonias will return the next year.
If your climate gets frost in the winter, you’ll need to replant the next spring, because the frost will kill the plants.