Begonia is a large genus of flowering plants, with more than 1500 species as well as numerous hybrids. These plants are found in tropical regions around the world. Norfolk Botanical Garden has a modest collection of a little more than 200 plants representing more than 62 species. Most of them are in the Tropical Display House, but many of the more hardy varieties may be found in the garden.
Begonias can be divided into eight groups based on their characteristics and growth habits:
Rhizomatous: Growing from rhizomes that creep along the ground, plants in this group are best known for their interesting leaves.
Rex-cultorum: Derived from the Begonia rex species, these cultivars are known for their showy leaves.
Semperflorens: Also known as wax begonias, these are grown as bedding plants and annuals, but are perennial in the tropics.
Tuberous: Known for their showy flowers, these begonias grow from tubers that go dormant in the winter. The more cold-hardy species are found in this group.
Shrub: This group has multi-stemmed begonias that are variable in leaf and size, ranging from miniatures to 12 feet tall.
Cane: These begonias have bamboo-like tall stems and may grow as high as 14 feet tall.
Thick stemmed: This is an unusual group with thick stems that don’t branch but send up growth from the base.
Trailing/Scandent: This type has a trailing habit and will climb trees in its native habitat.
Many of the begonias on our collection are in the rhizomatous group, but look for examples from each group.