By: Garden Gate staff
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Wax begonia Begonia semperflorens
Wax begonia is your go-to plant for shade — it’s hard to find a better bloomer that’s as trouble-free. Flowers cover mounded plants from late spring until a hard frost, colorful foliage ranges from green to bronze, and they take hot, dry summer weather in stride. Buying cell packs? Pinch back plants before planting to prevent legginess — removing the top inch or so of each shoot will encourage better branching and more blooms. Click ahead for more care tips and planting ideas!
Blooms Shades of red, pink and white in late spring to fall
Light Part shade
Size 6 to 12 in. tall and wide
Cold-hardy USDA zones 10 to 11
Heat-tolerant AHS zones 12 to 1
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Full and lush borders
Take just one look at this photo, and it’s easy to see that wax begonia adds big splashes of color in the garden bed. Plant them close together, almost side by side, and they’ll fill out even faster. After that, their tightly packed foliage and vigorous blooms will stay showy all summer.
Wax begonia will take some sun, but green-leafed cultivars dry out quickly and scorch if they get too much. Instead, give these varieties a spot that gets part shade most of the day, with a bit of morning sun.
Other cultivars with bronze foliage are sun-tolerant and will even keep their color better with more light. Plants in deep shade, though, will become leggy and won’t produce many blooms.
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Ready for combos
Great in containers, wax begonias can be set close together to quickly fill a pot. Trim tops back by a third if plants get leggy.
If you’re unsure when to water, wax begonia is a good indicator plant. Leaves change color when roots are dry — both the green- and bronze-leaf types will take on a gray cast. Water and they’ll quickly recover their color. It’s harder to tell if you overwater, though — foliage appears normal, but plants will eventually rot off at the roots.