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A Guide to Growing Begonia Tuberhybrida

A Guide to Growing Begonia Tuberhybrida

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Begonias are what I love to call, a gardener’s delight! Featuring bright red, pink or orange flowers, they make for some of the most attractive houseplants. They’re also incredibly easy to grow. Plus, you get to choose from dozens of Begonias as there are more than 1,000 species.

In this post however, we’ll focus on just one type- the Tuberhybrida. This group of plants have flowers the size of a salad plate, and in flashy colors.

They’re also low-maintenance; thus, can tolerate a bit of neglect. With such traits, they’re the perfect indoor plants; even for novice gardeners. If you’re looking to grow the Begonia Tuberhybrida, here’s a detailed guide.

 


 

Begonia Tuberhybrida Plant Profile

Begonia Tuberhybrida belongs to the Begonia genus and Begoniaceae family, which constitutes over 1,000 plant species.

Begonias, in general, hail from the tropical and subtropical regions. Their most pronounced traits are the four-colored tepals, which are usually in two pairs of varying sizes. Their flower colors vary widely, ranging from pink to yellow, white and red. Their leaves, which also exist in multiple colors, sport an alternate arrangement.

The numerous plants classified in the Begonia genus, fall into one of three groups: fibrous-rooted, rhizomatous, and the tuberous-rooted.

As implied in its name, the Tuberhybrida falls under the tuberous-rooted group. Important to note though is that this is not one specific plant. It’s merely a sub-group of plants, which can be divided further depending on the shape of their flowers, growth pattern and number of petals.

With regards to flower shape, some have roses, others carnations and others camellia. When it comes to petals, the plants can have single, double or ruffled petals. Lastly, the Tuberhybrida group contains either cascading or bushy plants.

 

Begonia Tuberhybrida Care Guide

 

Soil

The most essential aspect to consider when preparing soil for Begonia Tuberhybrida is proper drainage. In other words, they can thrive in any potting soil as long as it can drain well.

I usually plant my Tuberhybrida in a pot that has equal parts of perlite and coarse sand. I prefer coarse sand because it has a nice structure.

More specifically, it consists of tiny spaces where air, water and nutrients can move freely.  Perlite, on the other hand, promotes the soil’s drainage.

 

Light

When grown indoors, the Tuberhybrida should be exposed to bright indirect light. The easiest way to achieve this is to place it near an east- or west-facing window. That said, ensure the sun’s rays don’t fall directly on the leaves as this can cause them to burn.

This tuberous Begonia thrives best with some amount of light. So if you don’t have access to natural light, consider substituting with artificial lighting fixtures. I recommend using a standard fluorescent bulb.

Its light spectrum has just the right intensity for houseplants. It’s particularly suitable for the growth stages of houseplants.

If you live in an area that experiences cool summers, you can also take your plant outdoors every once in a while. Just be sure to place it in a partially-shaded spot.

Furthermore, protect your Tuberhybrida from strong winds or avoid taking your plant outdoors if it’s too windy.

The problem with strong dry winds is that they quickly wick moisture away from the plant. This causes the leaves to dry out and turn brown. To avoid this, place your Tuberhybrida against a house wall. This way, it still receives some sunshine, but remains shielded from strong winds.

 

Watering

This is perhaps the trickiest part of caring for a Begonia Tuberhybrida. I say tricky because you have to strike the perfect balance to avoid over- or underwatering.

 

To achieve this sweet spot, water only when the soil’s surface feels dry to the touch. If you water while the soil is still wet, you run the risk of making the soil waterlogged or soggy; hence, causing tuber rot. However, don’t let the soil dry out completely as this can cause the leaves to wilt.

 

Temperature

Apart from watering, you also need to ensure that you’re maintaining the right temperature for optimal growth of your Begonia.

 

This entails a temperature not exceeding 15°C (59°F) during the evening and 27°C (81°F) during the day. These Begonias fare well in warm climates, and cannot tolerate extremely high temperatures.

 

Humidity

Like any other tropical plant, the Tuberhybrida thrives in an area with high humidity levels. So if the air in your house is too dry, you might want to improve the humidity by misting your Begonia twice a week.

 

Fertilizer

The Begonia Tuberhybrida requires a constant supply of fertilizer to boost the development of its big-sized flowers. If, like me, you prefer to plant your Begonias in soilless mixes, applying fertilizer is particularly important. This is because perlite, peat moss and similar soilless mixtures are devoid of vital nutrients.

 

That said, there are a couple of things you should consider before adding fertilizer to your houseplant, namely:

  • Use a balanced fertilizer and apply at planting time. A balanced fertilizer is one that contains equal amounts of each nutrient. For instance, a 20-20-20 fertilizer has equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. I would also recommend using a granular fertilizer as opposed to liquid-type.
  • Always dilute the fertilizer before adding it in soil. I find that a 1:3 ratio of fertilizer to water works well for my Begonia Tuberhybrida. In addition, the ideal time to apply the fertilizer is when the begonia sprouts reach 3 inches. As for frequency, apply every 2 to 4 weeks for the growth phase.
  • Adjust the frequency and amount of fertilizer in late Autumn. During this season, applying just once a month is enough. Once winter sets in, cease the application altogether. This is because begonias don’t utilize fertilizers efficiently during the cold season, or at temperatures below 14°C (58°F).
  • Water the soil after applying fertilizer. Doing so helps to prevent problems, such as fertilizer burns, which can damage your plants

 

Propagation

Begonia Tuberhybrida is quite versatile as it can be grown indoors or outdoors. Better yet, it thrives in any climatic region, making it suitable for propagation.

 

To propagate your Tuberhybrida, start by familiarizing yourself with its root system. The plant has bulbous growths- known as tubers- in place of the more common fibrous root systems. Next, follow these steps to propagate successfully:

 

  • Gently lift the plant from the potting mix. Remove any soil attached to its tubers. Don’t soak the tubers in water, simply shake off the soil with your hands.
  • Next, pull the plant’s tubers apart. When doing so, ensure that each tuber you pull out has a stem section. Now, cut off the stem at a point that’s close to the tuber. Apply a fungicide on the tubers, then leave them to cure in a brightly-lit and warm space. Allow them to cure for two to three days.
  • Prepare the garden flat where you’ll replant your Tuberhybrida by filling it with coarse sand. Now plant the tubers that have been curing. Place them at least a half inch deep in the soil. If you’ve set up the plant in a cold basement, consider investing in a garden heat mat to boost germination. Now all that’s left to do is to wait for the tubers to grow.
  • Keep track of their growth and pinch off any flower buds that pop up. This way, the Begonia Tuberhybrida can concentrate on developing the tuber. Continue checking its growth till the weather causes the plant to go dormant.
  • Remove the tubers from the garden flat and cure them once more for two to three days. Add moist peat moss (or your preferred growth substrate) to a mesh bag and incorporate your cured tubers. Next, place them in a cool, dark area or a fridge
  • Monitor the tubers during this storage phase closely. If you notice any soft or rotting tubers, discard them. Then, once you see a sprout, it means the tuber is ready for planting. Replant the tubers in a well-shaded area. When replanting, ensure the indentations are facing upwards.

 

Growth

Once you plant the tubers, it takes between 12 and 14 weeks for your tuberous begonia to blossom. So I like to start my Tuberhybrida indoors about two months before the last frost date. Sometimes I’ll start even sooner, just to be safe.

 

Potting

Begonia Tuberhybrida is one of those plants that you will have to repot at some point. Since it’s root-bound, you’ll have to replant it in a bigger container.

When choosing a pot for replanting, pay attention to its size. Since these plants grow to about 2 to 4 inches wide, you might want to use a pot that is a little wider. I like to grow mine in a container that is 1 to 2 inches wider than the size of my plant.

Moreover, the pot should have drainage holes to allow for efficient draining of the water; hence, prevent root rot.

 

Begonia tuberhybrida: Dormancy

Regardless of how you grow your Tuberhybrida, it’s bound to enter into a dormant stage at some point. During their dormancy, you’ll need to store the tubers indoors as they cannot withstand the extremely cold temperatures. Here’s how you should store the Begonia Tuberhybrida tubers:

  • First, reduce the amount and frequency of watering. On the same note, stop applying fertilizer a few weeks before the cold season sets in. I also prefer to remove any flower buds that form after this. This way, the plant can concentrate on storing energy in its tubers for the dormant period.
  • Once the plant’s foliage starts turning yellow or as soon as the first frost passes, start digging out the tubers.
  • Trim the stems to at least five inches, then take the tubers indoors for curing. For the best outcome, be sure to store the tubers away from direct sunlight and maintain room temperature. Store them up to that point when the remaining stem pieces are dry and loose
  • Next, pull out the stem pieces, roots and shake off any soil residue. But as in the case of propagation, do not wash the tubers.
  • Instead, store the tubers in a cool and dark spot. An unheated attic or three-season porch are suitable spaces for this application.
  • Monitor the progress of the tubers, and discard those that rot.

 

Common Problems with Begonia Tuberhybrida

Overall, Begonia Tuberhybrida is a healthy plant. The only problems that you’re likely to experience are:

 

Leaf loss

Several reasons can cause your Begonia to start losing leaves namely:

  • Very thin stems that cannot support the weight of the leaves
  • Exposing the leaves to too much heat
  • Excess amounts of water that cause the leaves to wilt

 

Tuber rot

At times, you may discover that your plant’s tubers are rotting. Often, this happens because the tubers were too wet before planting. To avoid this, place the tubers in an airy and cool spot during winter; don’t expose them to frost.

 

Pests

Many pests can damage your Begonia Tuberhybrida, but the most likely culprits are mites and thrips.

 

Mites

If mites attack your plant, they’ll cause your foliage to turn greenish-yellow. In worst case scenarios, they may cause stunted growth.

 

Thrips

Another pest that’s likely to invade the Begonia plant entails thrips. The tiny insects with fringed usually cause reddish brown lines to form on the upper sides of leaves.

In both cases, the best treatment is to apply a suitable pesticide. I recommend using organic pesticides as they do not have any toxic chemicals. Such treatments are made mostly from plant extracts- such as neem oil- making them suitable for use around pets and children.

 

Tips to Keep Begonia Tuberhybrida Problem-Free

Though tuberous begonias are easy to grow, they are susceptible to a couple of problems. Here are a few tips to prevent these issues:

  • Always allow the plant to dry out between watering. This way, the tubers from which the plant grows won’t rot.
  • Plant your Tuberhybrida in well-draining soil
  • Feed your plant from time to time. Its floriferous nature requires a boost of fertilizer for sustenance. Speaking of, use a slow-release fertilizer as it’s better for this Begonia species
  • Whenever possible, expose your Begonia to morning sun to enhance its growth

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Begonia Tuberhybrida

 

How can I acclimate my Tuberhybrida?

If you intend to continue growing your Tuberhybrida outdoors, then there’s one thing you can do to improve its chances of survival. This entails hardening it off at least a fortnight before the frost season ends.

I prefer to take my Begonia outdoors, before the last frost date. I have a partially-shaded spot in my backyard where I set it up during the day. Before the temperatures drop too low, I take the plant back indoors and repeat the same routine every other day. This way, the plant is not exposed to extreme weather elements at night. However, it still gets accustomed to the outdoor environment gradually.

 

Wrap Up

Native to tropical and subtropical zones, Begonia Tuberhybrida is an excellent houseplant. Not only is it visually appealing but it’s also fairly easy to care for. For the most part, it requires a well-draining soil, bright indirect lighting and careful watering. You’ll also need to maintain a relatively humid environment, and a temperature less than 15°C (59°F) for nighttime and 27°C (81°F) for daytime.

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