How to Grow Wax Begonias

Wax begonia plant with pink blossoms

 baona / Getty Images

Wax begonias are a widely loved little plant. This versatile type of begonia can be used as an annual in colder climates, a perennial in warmer climates, and even as a houseplant on your desk.

They sport glossy, waxy-looking leaves that can be either green, bronze, or maroon. Their flowers can be found in white, pink, or red. Not only are they beautiful, but they make low-maintenance additions to your plant collection. They are deer resistant and only require deadheading and the occasional pruning to keep them beautiful.

Botanical Name Begonia semperflorens
Common Name Wax begonia
Plant Type Perennial or annual 
Mature Size 6 to 18 inches high; 6 to 12 inches wide
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Rich, moist, and well-draining
Soil pH Neutral to slightly acidic
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Red, pink, or white
Hardiness Zones 10-11
Native Area Central and South America
Wax begonia with pink, white, and red blossoms
Wax begonia blossoms feature red, white, or pink petals Maljalen / iStock / Getty Images
Wax begonia in bloom
Wax begonia in bloom Nahhan / iStock / Getty Images 
Wax begonia plant in container
Wax begonias often thrive in planters or containers
Jekaterina Voronina / Getty Images


 


How to Grow Wax Begonias

Wax begonias are a cinch to care for, providing they get the right amount of sun and watering.

These plants are multifaceted and can be used outdoors in your garden, in container gardens, and even as an indoor plant.

Light

Depending on where you live and what temperatures you experience, your wax begonia may want full sun or partial shade.

If you live somewhere with intense summers and high temperatures, your wax begonia will be very appreciative of some shade. Too much hot, direct sunlight can stress them.

Soil

Well draining soil is a must. These plants require continually damp soil, but wet or soggy soil can harm them and cause rot.

Giving them soil rich in organic matter will make sure the soil is continually draining as well as providing the nutrients your wax begonia needs to thrive.

Water

These plants need regular watering and enjoy soil that is continuously damp. However, beware of watering too much without allowing the water to drain out. This can cause root rot, which is a problem that wax begonias can easily encounter.

Another thing to watch out for is getting water on the leaves. Wet leaves can lead to fungal growth. To avoid this, water at the base of the plant near the soil.

Temperature and Humidity

Being native to Central and South America, these plants love warm humidity, and if they get enough of this they can be kept in the garden as perennials.

These plants only do well in temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so some gardeners grow them outside as annuals, planting them once all dangers of frost are gone.

If you’d like to keep your wax begonia blooming year-round, they make wonderful houseplants during the winter months. Just be sure to keep them away from drafts.

If you are keeping your wax begonia inside, place the pot on top of a tray of pebbles. Fill the tray with water, making sure the water does not touch or seep into the bottom of the pot. The evaporating water from the tray will help keep the area around your plant humid.

Fertilizer

The wax begonia isn’t picky when it comes to fertilizer, and a general, weaker fertilizer, like 10-10-10, will usually meet the needs of this plant. Giving them a dose of fertilizer monthly during their growing season will help encourage growth and blooming.

Propagating Wax Begonia

Wax begonias are easy to propagate from cuttings. Here’s how:

1. With a clean pair of snips, cut a three to four inch sprig from your wax begonia in the spring. Be sure the cutting has a few nodes on it.

2. Remove the bottom leaves about two inches from the bottom.

3. Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone.

4. Bury the cut end around two inches into well-draining soil and keep the soil moist. You could additionally place a plastic bag over the plant to keep in the moisture while it is forming roots.

Alternatively, you can skip steps three and four by simply placing your cutting into a jar of water and waiting until roots appear. Once the roots are about an inch or so long, transfer your cutting to dirt, and you’ve got a new little plant.

Growing Wax Begonias From Seed

You can also propagate your wax begonia by seed. If you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s how:

1. About 12 weeks before the last frost, start your seeds indoors. Sprinkle seeds on well-draining, rich soil.

2. Simply press the seeds gently into the soil with your finger, making sure they are not covered over. They need bright light to germinate.

3. Cover the seeds with a plastic bag or humidity dome and keep the soil moist.

4. Patience is key here. Begonias take a long time to germinate, so don’t give up.

5. Keep your seeds warm with grow lights and keep watch on them. Placing them on a heating mat may help them germinate as well.

6. Once they get their first set of true leaves, you can transplant your baby wax begonias to their own containers and harden them off before planting them up outside.

Toxicity of Wax Begonias

The Begonia plant family is known to be toxic to animals, and ingesting them can lead to vomiting, salivation, or kidney failure in grazing animals.

It’s worth noting that the most toxic portion of the plant is underground.

Varieties of Wax Begonias

The begonia family includes many different varieties, and wax begonias have their own subset that have different growing conditions and offer unique features.

  • ‘Super Olympia’: This variety flowers early and stands out for its larger-than-usual blooms. Flowers may be white, pink, or red.
  • Varsity’: Particularly well-suited to being grown in a container or planter. It features flowers in red, white, or pink.
  • ‘Paint Splash Pink’: This type of wax begonia offers showier foliage; each leaf is green with cream spots and marks. The pale pink flowers are a great contrast and make this an eye-catching variety.

Pruning

Keeping your wax begonia healthy and beautiful is a breeze. Simply remove the old and withered blooms to encourage new growth. This process is called deadheading.

Being Grown in Containers

As stated, wax begonias don't just make great additions to your outdoor garden. They make lovely container plants that can be kept indoors.

The wax begonia does not need to be repotted often if it is planted in a well-chosen pot. Choosing a pot to accommodate the plant’s mature size may even eliminate the need to repot.

Whatever pot you choose, just be sure that it has drainage holes. This will allow the water to drain out of the pot and help you avoid problems with root rot.