Elena Fennell is a horticulturist and freelance garden writer. She is also the webmaster for cleggsnursery.com and br-la.org.

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Bonfire Begonias
by Elena Fennell       #Flowers   #Hot Plants   #Plant Profile

Enliven your spring patio and landscape with Bonfire begonias. Their shocking scarlet-orange blossoms easily light up canopied beds and containers as profusions of dainty bells elegantly hang from arching blue-green limbs. Perfect for hanging baskets or mixed containers, Bonfire begonias stand only 18 inches in height, as their swooping stems gracefully cascade downward, creating a remarkable fountain of fiery orange. Heat up your containers with innovative varieties like Bonfire Choc Orange or Bonfire Choc Pink to enjoy cinnamon red and cotton candy blooms, lavishly infused with rich, chocolate mocha leaves.

Like most begonias, Bonfire prefers light shade and well-drained soil. Selectively prune leggy stems spring through summer to maintain healthy growth. Grow Bonfire begonias singly in hanging baskets or small containers, or create an invigorating springtime show by integrating these eye-catching beauties with Breathless Blush euphorbia, Innocence Opal nemesia or Snow Princess lobularia (alyssum). Consider also planting showers of color in your landscape by mixing Bonfire begonias with other shade lovers such as Dolce Crème Brulee heuchera, Chocolate Chip ajuga or ‘Blue Angel’ hosta.


Common Name: Bonfire begonia

Botanical Name: Begonia boliviensis

Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: Bonfire, Bonfire Scarlet, Bonfire Choc Orange, Bonfire Choc Pink

Colors: Red-orange, scarlet, pink, coral-pink

Blooming Period: Midspring through early fall

Type: Annual

Size: 18 inches tall x 18 inches wide

Exposure: Light shade

When to Plant: Mid to late spring

How to Plant: Space 24 inches apart in an offset pattern in the landscape, or plant singly in containers and baskets.

Soil: Well-drained, raised beds with slightly acidic soil; light potting soil if planting in containers or baskets

Watering: If planted in the landscape, water once weekly when rainfall is absent; check container plants daily.

When to Prune: Lightly shear leggy stems through the summer.

When to Fertilize: At planting with a slow-release fertilizer

In Your Landscape: Begonia boliviensis makes a phenomenal accent to shaded patios and porches with their scintillating fountains of scarlet-orange blossoms and blue-green foliage. Plant clusters of them under shade trees as well, to celebrate their vibrant hues in the landscape.


(Photos courtesy of Allen Armitage)


Posted: 01/27/11   RSS | Print


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