As gardeners, we all know and love the popular Begonias, with their exquisite blossoms and unique-patterned leaves. Throughout this article, we’ll be focusing on one of these beloved plants – Begonia boliviensis, which surely does not fit into the typical picture of Begonias.
Its flowers, rather than resembling roses, have an interesting and particular bell-like shape. Bolivian begonias offer a spectacular display of elegant and mesmerizing blooms of various colours.
If you are the type of grower that has an affinity for edgy flowering plants, Begonia boliviensis is a perfect choice for your garden or home. Besides its versatility in terms of growing settings, this plant is also one of the friendliest ornamental companions. It generally demands its owner’s attention for only a few moments throughout the year.
Member of the Begoniaceae family, this species plays a big part in the process of plant hybridization. Some of the most well-known hybrids that appeared after crossing Begonia boliviensis with other Begonia species are B. × sedenii and B. × veitchii. Due to its stunning appearance, the first mentioned hybrid has received the Silver Floral Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Are you interested in more details about Begonia boliviensis? Keep reading our guide and you will also find out how to care for this plant and even propagate it!
About Bolivian Begonia
- Begonia boliviensis originates from Bolivia and Argentina. In its native habitat, this flowering plant usually occurs in the montane cloud forests of the eastern part of the Bolivian Andes. The Bolivian Begonia thrives on slopes near streams and rock crevices.
- Begonia boliviensis has an important advantage – it comes with lots of gorgeous cultivars. The most popular cultivars are Begonia ‘Bonfire’, Begonia ‘Bossa Nove Pure White’, Begonia ‘Crackling Fire Orange’, Begonia ‘Million Kisses Elegance’, Begonia ‘Mistral Pink’, Begonia ‘San Francisco’, and Begonia ‘Santa Cruz’.
- Some of the aforementioned Begonia boliviensis varieties, such as B. boliviensis ‘Bonfire’ and B. boliviensis ‘Million Kisses Elegance’, are winners of the honoured Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
- This particular Begonia species is not as winter-hardy as we would want it to be, but it can compensate for this through its ability to tolerate heat and high humidity levels.
- Begonia boliviensis is an easy-going plant that can make for a fabulous addition to various landscape decorations both indoors and outdoors. It is perfect for containers, hanging baskets, flower beds, cottage gardens, rock gardens, city gardens, Mediterranean gardens, courtyards, or patios.
- If you want to make the most of the ornamental value of Begonia boliviensis, you can plant it near other attractive ornamentals. Good companions for this plant include Fuchsia ‘Billy Green’, Fuchsia ‘Whiteknights Pearl’, Licorice plant, Caladium, Coleus, Lobelia, Ipomoea, Impatiens, Vinca Vine and Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Purple fountain grass).
Bolivian Begonia Features: An Overview
- This plant belongs to the Begonia genus which consists of around 2000 species of flowering plants. This genus is one of the largest genera of flowering plants out there.
- Begonia boliviensis is a vigorous trailing grower that emerges from tuberous roots. Depending on the specimen, this plant can grow between 12 and 16 inches (30-40 cm) in both height and width.
- Its foliage can vary from one cultivar to another in shape, size, colour, and even leaf pattern. While some varieties have large, arrow-shaped, neatly serrated, full green leaves, others may exhibit simple, delicately pink-edged green leaves or bright orange ones.
- In general, Begonia boliviensis is a continuous bloomer that can produce flowers throughout late spring to autumn. Its blossoms show up packed together as two or three on short stems and form eye-catching cascades.
- The luminous, elongated, bell-shaped flowers look very much like those of Fuchsias. They can appear in different shades of white, scarlet, orange, pink, and red.
- Begonia boliviensis is a great plant to grow around curious kids, as it is not toxic to humans at all. On the other hand, this plant is not pet-friendly as it is poisonous to animals, so you might want to opt for a planting spot that is out of your cats’ or dogs’ reach.
Growing Bolivian Begonia
Begonia boliviensis is one of the most wonderful companions to have around if you are a beginner in the gardening world or a busy person in general. You will see that this plant is nothing like most ordinary and fussy flowering species that thrive only with lots of care. Once begonia boliviensis begins to feel like home in your presence, you can even forget giving it attention and it will still forgive you when you get back.
Now let’s find out how you can mimic the environment from its habitat of origin to spoil it as best as possible!
When it comes to lighting conditions, the ideal place for your Begonia boliviensis to grow would be one in which it can experience dappled bright sunlight. You should know that exposing this plant outdoors to direct harsh sun rays will most likely result in scorched leaves.
This being said, it is always best to provide your Begonia boliviensis with less sunlight than too much of it. Indoors, make sure you place it where indirect, filtered light usually hits. Depending on the region you live in, this would mean a southwest-facing window in the Northern hemisphere or a northwest-facing window in the Southern one.
Begonia boliviensis is not a hardy species, but it can grow just fine outdoors during the winter in USDA zones 9 to 10. Some cultivars like B. Boliviensis ‘Bossa Nova Pure White’ can get even hardier, withstanding winter temperatures specific to the USDA 7 hardiness zone. Begonia boliviensis can typically do well in temperatures that range from 56 to 60 °F (14-16 °C) at night and daytime temperatures between 65 to 75 °F (18-24 °C) all year round.
- HARDINESS ZONE.9-11
- GROW.Begonias need light to germinate, so simply broadcast the seeds across the surface of the potting mix and press them against the surface of the soil with your fingertips or a flat piece of cardboard. Do not cover the seeds.
- WHEN TO PLANT.May
- TALL.Enjoying continuous blooms from late spring to fall,this Begonia typically grows up to 12-16 in. tall and wide (30-40 cm).
- USE.Prefers locations that have sun or partial shade and light, rich, moist, and well-drained soils.
- SEEDS ONLY, no live plants.The photos show are the mature plant in the future, not the actual plant you will receive.
- Non-GMO - Hybrid - High Germination Rate
- Seeds For: Flower Gardening
- Days to Full Maturity: 119 -- Annual -- USDA Hardiness Zone: Annual Crop, Not Intended To Overwinter
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- LIGHT & SOIL: Prefers locations that have sun or partial shade and light, rich, moist, and well-drained soils. Full shade is tolerated, but expect fewer (but larger) flowers and lower growth.
- TALL: Begonia typically grows up to 12-16 in. tall and wide.
- BLOOM PERIOD: Enjoy continuous blooms from late spring to fall.
- USDA ZONE: This Begonia is not winter hardy. In cooler areas than zones 9-11, dig up the tubers before the first frost and store them dormant in a cool dry place over winter.
- USAGES: Heat and drought-tolerant, introduce this Begonia to your containers and hanging baskets, and you will be rewarded with brilliant notes of color throughout summer and fall!
Last update on 2023-08-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you want to overwinter your Begonia, you will have to dig up its tubers before the first sign of frost and store them in a dry, cool location during its dormancy period. In regions outside its hardiness zone, you can also grow this plant in a container right from the beginning to move it indoors until next spring before the temperatures get too cold. In case you live in a region that matches the hardiness of your Begonia bolivia cultivar, you can overwinter it outdoors by just applying a layer of mulch around its roots in autumn.
In terms of pest infestations, Begonia bolivia is somewhat susceptible to visits from aphids, whiteflies, snails, and slugs. If you encounter an aphid infestation, you can wash or you’re your plant with insecticidal soap or spray as an immediate solution until you see no sign of it.
This kind of treatment works the same for whiteflies. For snails or slugs, the best way to prevent an infestation is by removing any objects from your plant’s proximity as they can serve as shelter for these intruders during the daylight.
Another common issue among Begonia boliviensis plants is powdery mildew. This fungal disease occurs when the plant experiences too much drought or humidity for a long period. If this happens, you will need to wash your Begonia with insecticidal soap or mist it regularly with insecticidal spray until you get rid of the infection.
Planting Bolivian Begonia
Although Begonia boliviensis is not a plant that spreads like crazy, it still does need a bit of space around it and good air circulation to avoid future fungal diseases. Make sure you spoil it with as much space as it can get and provide excellent ventilation around it for the best results.
Begonia boliviensis prefers loamy soils that come along with great drainage and are also rich in organic matter. The ideal growing medium for this plant would be a commercial soilless mix designed specifically for indoor plants. This particular substrate typically contains peat moss and perlite/vermiculite which can help you give your Begonia the time of its life.
The best thing about this plant is that, even if it performs best in slightly acidic to neutral soil, it can also handle pretty well the alkaline types.
If you want to grow your Begonia boliviensis for its superb flowers (which is most probably the case), it will need a bit of help with regular fertilizing to reach that point. But, trust us, it is worth all the effort! You can feed this plant with a good-quality, balanced fertilizer that works for Begonias.
Whether you use a powder fertilizer or a diluted liquid product, you must apply it once every three weeks during its active growing period from spring through summer. After this period, you can also fertilize your Begonia boliviensis monthly in autumn and stop doing it once the winter arrives.
From time to time, the overall pleasing appearance of your Begonia boliviensis will be in danger due to unhealthy branch growth or dead leaves. But no worries! You can bring your plant back to life by pruning it with a good old pair of shears or pruning scissors. Be careful in the process, though! You should cut off only the unwanted parts and avoid damaging the healthy ones.
A Begonia boliviensis that grows in a container requires repotting only once every two years or so. When your plant begins to outgrow its pot, you can transplant it into another that is slightly bigger than the current one. Do not forget to opt for a container that features drainage holes and plenty of room for your plant’s roots to develop as they wish.
Watering Bolivian Begonia
Luckily, Begonia boliviensis is not the type of picky plant that requires frequent watering to grow healthy and happy. Although this buddy likes to have its feet constantly damp, too much water can cause soggy conditions and may result in root rot with time. On the other hand, under-watering this plant can lead to significant foliage damage. But it is not difficult at all to find the balance!
As a rule, it is wise to water your beloved Begonia when its growing medium seems somewhat dry to the touch. This means that the soil should be dry only at the top few inches, not the entire plant. If you want to be sure when is the right time to give your plant a drink, you can use the best friend of a gardener – a moisture meter.
Begonia boliviensis is a species that loves humidity, so you will have to make sure that the levels are considerably high. In general, this plant enjoys humidity levels between 85 and 95%, which can be pretty much for average households. You can provide your Begonia with the ideal humidity levels by misting its surroundings to make it absorb the moisture on its own.
Propagating Bolivian Begonia
Being a plant that has numerous branches, Begonia boliviensis responds best to propagation through stem cuttings. You can even take more cuttings from your plant to increase your success and also share your exciting experience with one of your friends or family members.
Although it is a method that implies a bit of work along the way, it is rather easy to get it done and the rewards are truly worth all the effort.
Before getting into action, you can prepare the propagation medium. Fill containers of 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter with a mix of equal parts of peat moss and perlite. Moisten the mix thoroughly by adding some water. While you wait for the excess water to drain out of the containers, you can go to your plant to let the fun begin.
Look for new branch growth and cut about 6 inches (15 cm) of each stem just below a pair of leaves. We recommend you use only healthy stems that have no flowers on them for best results. Remove all the leaves from the lower half of each cutting, then dip their cut ends in rooting hormone.
Plant each cutting in its individual pot and add some water around the base to help them settle in the propagation mix. Place the pots in a warm, indirect-lit area, and mist the stem cuttings daily for optimal hydration.
After two weeks or so, you can check the cuttings for root development. If they have grown roots, you can wait another two weeks before transplanting the cuttings in a larger pot or directly into the ground.
Through its infinite beauty and ridiculously easy-to-grow habit, Begonia boliviensis has gained its well-deserved spot in our top favourite ornamental plants. It is super versatile and can fill any dull spot with lots of colours for an extended time. It pairs well with many different ornamental foliage plants and blooming plants and it is perfectly safe to grow around curious children. If you don’t already have one in your collection, check out the various Begonia Boliviensis cultivars to find the one that suits your taste!
Are you growing Begonia Boliviensis in your garden or home? Share your experience in the comments!