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Darrell Blackwelder: Perennial begonias

If there is a shady location in your landscape that needs some perking up, you may want to consider hardy begonias.

Hardy begonia (Begonia grandis) is a herbaceous perennial that comes to life each June and disappears with the arrival of frost in October. Unlike annual begonias, this hardy begonia is a true perennial which comes back each year, seemingly thriving on neglect.

Native to China, these begonias are rugged and adapt very well to our climate. Hardy begonias can withstand deep shade with minimal moisture, however they seem to flourish spectacularly in well-drained, organic soils with consistent moisture. The leaves are larger than our common annual begonias bearing petite, pale pink blooms. The blooms are somewhat smaller than annual begonias and sparse, but still quite attractive.

One of the major assets of this perennial is its ability to naturalize in shady locations quickly where nothing seems to grow. The plants propagate themselves with bulblets and seed in the fall.
Perennial begonias are excellent late blooming plant that adds a spark to the landscape when other flowers are fading from the heat of summer. Its speckled pink blooms blend nicely with shade loving hostas and ferns.

Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/begonia-grandis/ for more detailed information.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.

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