Begonia semperflorens is the scientific name for the flowering plant commonly known as the wax begonia. Popular in landscaping and gardening, wax begonias are often used for edgings or planted in groups in flowerbeds. They also might be kept in flower pots or hanging baskets. Their blossoms usually are shades of red, white or pink.
Wax begonias reach about 1 foot (30.5 cm) in height, although some dwarf varieties will reach only 6 inches (15.24 cm). Each plant's spread is approximately equal to its height. Begonia semperflorens gets its common name from its rounded, waxy leaves. The leaves are evergreen. Although many varieties have green leaves, some plants have red or bronze leaves instead.
Although Begonia semperflorens can tolerate brief periods without water, this plant is not drought tolerant and should be watered daily. The soil should be well drained and moist but not soggy. Wax begonias do well in most moderately fertile soils. If it is planted indoors, peat, compost or a mixture is best. Sand also can be included in the mixture.
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Ideally, these plants should be fertilized twice a month with a nitrogen fertilizer. Phosphorus and potassium are also recommended nutrients. Although these flowers technically are perennials, many people treat them as annuals because of the special care required to allow them to bloom for more than one year. For this reason, Begonia semperflorens is often considered a tender perennial.
Begonia semperflorens does well in high humidity and heat, so it is often planted in areas that have both. Although they can survive in full sunlight, these plants thrive in partial shade. Blooming in the spring, wax begonias keep their blossoms throughout the summer and into fall. Planting these flowers should occur after the final frosts of spring.
Wax begonias are not susceptible to most diseases or pests. The only significant threats to these plants are mealy bugs. Mealy bugs, however, generally infect only indoor plants, so flowers that are in outside gardens should not be bothered by these pests.
Propagation of wax begonias can be achieved through cuttings or seeds. Seeds are the more difficult method because the seeds are small and delicate. When they are being propagated by seeds, they should be planted indoors before spring. They might take 20 days to germinate and then four to five months to reach an acceptable growth for planting. The cutting method is simple but requires a rooting hormone and special non-soil mixture in which to plant the cutting while it grows.