The Kings and Queens of Foliage Color: Rex Begonias

Jan 19, 2018 | Love This!

I LOVE These Plants!

Got shade? You need this begonia.

Name: Begonia rex aka rex begonias

Type of Plant: An extremely useful tropical plant that you can keep as a houseplant or use in containers or shade gardens outdoors in the summer. The varieties are endless, and the shapes of the colorful leaves spectacular.

Why I love this plant: These are showy plants that are well suited to individual pots or combinations with other plants. They grow fairly quickly, especially when put outdoors for summer camp in the warm months. Once the temperatures fall below 55, however, you’ll want to bring your rex begonias inside.

A Word to the Wise: Some rex begonias are happy to go dormant over the winter in a cool but not cold location. But I’ve found that the best way to keep them from year to year is to have the pots in a bright but not direct sun location all winter. Fertilize in the growing season (May-September) only. Like all begonias, these like well-drained soil (don’t clog the drainage hole, please!) and fairly consistent moisture but never too wet soil. If kept too wet they can develop crown rot…so let them just begin to go dry, but never to wilting, before watering.

Rex begonias can have leaves that spiral inward.

Some rex begonias have spiral leaves that look like shells. Add this shape to the silver, green and burgundy colors and you’ve got one stylish plant.

Rex begonias don't usually have showy flowers but their leaves are as colorful as many blooms. Grow them in shade.

Other rex begonias have purple, red or silver leaves…often combining all those colors and more.

You can learn more about GWA by going to their website:

Here’s one reason I love going to the GWA annual meetings: we get to see creative plant displays like this one in Buffalo, NY. This gardener made a pot holder and each fence panel had a display of several varieties of the same plant. Here was the lineup of rex begonias.


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