Learning about overwintering begonias is one of those genius garden ideas that every green-fingered (or, ahem, not so green-fingered) plant enthusiast ought to learn.
Whether you display these brightly-coloured blooms in containers, hanging baskets, or your garden borders, there's a reason begonias are one of those garden trends that never goes out of style; they're high-impact and low-maintenance, all at once.
It makes sense, then, that you'll want to find a way to help these little beauties survive the colder winter months.
How to get overwintering begonias
And, thankfully, we have good news on that front: when you learn about overwintering begonias, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is!
'Large flowered or ‘tuberous’ begonias are quite easy to overwinter,' explains Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries, 'Just like dahlias, they form a tuber under the soil.'
Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.
Explaining that one of the major benefits of overwintering begonias (other than the fact you won't have to buy them again next year, of course!) is that you will start the next spring with a larger tuber.
This means, adds Morris, that your begonias 'will have even more flowering potential than the year before'. Consider us sold!
What you will need
- A good pair of secateurs
- A garden fork
- An unheated shed or garage
- A cardboard box lined with newspaper/brown paper bag
- Dry sand, soil or compost
How to start overwintering begonias in pots
If you're keen to get overwintering begonias in pots, then you're in luck: half the job has already been done for you!
'Simply bring your potted begonias inside (well before the first frost) and storw them somewhere dark, dry and frost free,' says Morris, suggesting a garage or shed as an option.
'Let the compost dry out completely over the winter, and only start to water in the spring when you see signs of new growth coming from around the base of the old stem.'
As your begonias grow, be sure to keep them somewhere warm, and 'only put them outside when the danger of frost has completely passed, usually around the end of May,' adds Morris.
How to start overwintering begonia bulbs
If your flowers have been planted directly into your garden, don't worry; you can get overwintering the begonia bulbs themselves. Wait for the leaves to yellow, before cutting back stems to three or four inches above the tuber.
Then, using a garden fork, lift the tubers out of the soil before the first frosts, taking care not to damage or bruise them at all. Brush away any loose soil from the tubers, and hang them upside down to in a cool place for a few days to dry off.
Once this is done, you can then store them dry in soil or sand in a frost-free shed or garage. Just be sure to water them occasionally to prevent any unfortunate shrivelling.
How do I save my begonias for next year?
The easiest way to save your flowers is to look at overwintering begonias. However, as Chris Bonnett, founder of GardeningExpress.co.uk points out, this will be entirely dependent on the type of begonias you have.
'Not all begonias can be overwintered so it’s important to check which one you have before starting this process,' he says, explaining that it's best suited to tuberous begonias and hardy tuberous begonia.
'Dig up the begonia tubers and place them in a cool and dry location for a few days, then move them to a container, cover them with sand or soil, and keep them in a cool, dark location, ideally below 13 degrees,' he adds, for how to start with overwintering begonia bulbs.
Alternatively, if you have hardy begonia and live in a milder area (and they're planted at the base of a warm south-facing wall), you can just mulch them and leave them in the ground.
Can I leave begonias in pots over winter?
As mentioned already, you can absolutely leave your begonias in pots over winter. All you have to do is bring the pots inside (well before the first frost), and store them somewhere dark, dry and frost free.
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Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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