How to Care for a Begonia x Tuberhybrida

Begonia x Tuberhybrida

Tuberous begonia (begonia × tuberhybrida) is also known as the begonia tuberhybrida group. It is a very significant group of plants within the genus because they’re known to be among the most spectacular looking.

Their trademark are large, beautiful petaled flowers with bright colors. You can choose from red, white, pink and many more. Their looks make them popular choices for flower arrangements.

Tuberous begonia make up one of the 3 major groups within the genus. The other two are fibrous rooted ones and rhizomatous. Each of them described by their root and stem structure.

The begonia tuberhybrida is likewise fairly low maintenance and well-suited for indoor growing. This makes it easy to care for even with a little neglect.

So, if you’re looking for something that’s stunningly beautiful to brighten up your home without a lot of work and hassle, plants in this group are a good choice.

Here’s how to care for them.

Begonia x Tuberhybrida Plant Care

Begonia x Tuberhybrida Light

Tuberous begonia thrives in bright, indirect light. Just as importantly, make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight. Long periods of exposure will burn its leaves and flowers.

However, you also don’t want to keep it somewhere dark or a location with too little light. This will cause the plant’s growth to slow down. It will also produce fewer flowers.

The plant also prefers natural light. But, if you live in an apartment or condo where access to sunlight from all directions may be limited, you can use artificial lights to supplement the sun. Fluorescent bulbs work well in this case.

That said, the best location for your tuberous begonia is near an east facing window. This gives it a lot of light without the strong intensity of the sun’s rays.

You can likewise position in facing the west or south windows. But, make sure it stays a few feet from the window or you filter the light. This protects it from the harsher afternoon sun, especially if you live in a warm region.

Outdoors it does best in partial shade as long as the spot is gets enough bright light. The shade can be from a canopy, your home or a large tree.

 

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Begonia x Tuberhybrida Temperature & Humidity

Tuberous begonia like their living conditions to be relatively cool to moderate. As such, they do best when temperature is kept consistently between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

They are not frost hardy, so you don’t want to leave them outside for the winter if it gets cold in your area. If left in temperatures under 50 degrees, they will struggle. And, longer periods of this will cause them to deteriorate. Similarly, they cannot stand very high temperatures.

This makes them perfect for growing indoors as we are comfortable with the same temperature. Although, we are more capable to tolerating much hotter and colder conditions.

In addition to temperature, the plant also likes high humidity. This plays an important factor for optimum growth. As such, it is a good idea to invest in a digital hygrometer. This makes it very easy to tell what indoor humidity is no matter what time of year it is.

Most homes average between 40% and 50% humidity. While the upper range is just enough to keep the plant happy, it thrives when humidity is much higher.

If you find that you need to increase humidity around the plant, you can group it with other plants or place a water tray below it. Both will help increase air moisture.

However, if your home’s humidity is fairly low in the 30%+ range, it would be a better idea to use a humidifier. While there is more maintenance involved, it is capable to raising humidity more than natural means.

Normally, I would also recommend misting a few times a week as a solution. But, that’s not a good idea for begonias given that they are prone to powdery mildew and other fungal problems. Thus, wetting the leaves only increases your risk of these issues.

 

Watering Begonia x Tuberhybrida

Begonia x Tuberhybrida

source: wikimedia commons

Watering your tuberous begonia can be tricky because it likes soil to stay moist. But, since it is prone to root rot, it is imperative that you don’t overwater it. Keeping soil soggy or wet is recipe for disaster.

Similarly, watering too much or to too often can result is waterlogged soil, leaving the plant with wet feet. Again, this will increase the risk of rotting roots.

What makes it tough is that in addition to this, the plant doesn’t do well if you let it dry out. If this happens, the plant’s leaves will wilt.

So, you need to walk that fine line in the middle.

I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to use a moisture meter. It is inexpensive. And, it will tell you how moist the soil is. The best part is, you get  a digital reading. This makes it very precise.

All you need to do is remember what levels the plant responds to the best and keep watering only when the moisture meter gets to that level.

Alternatively, you can also use your finger. This requires experience. But, once you get a feel of if, you’ll be able to tell when to water.

A final method is to lift the pot. Wet soil is much heavier than dry soil. As such, you’ll be able to tell the difference from the weight of the plant. Again, this does require some trial and error with experience.

 

Soil

Begonia Tuberhybrida need well draining soil. It also does well when given fertile soil. But, the most important part of making sure that the soil doesn’t retain too much water.

But, once again, there needs to be balance which is why watering is challenging for this plant. Since the plant isn’t drought tolerant, you need to a potting mix that isn’t overly fast draining either.

I like to use a combination of potting soil, pest moss and perlite at even amounts. This works well as you get nutrients from the soil, water retention from the peat moss and excellent drainage from the perlite.

If you prefer something commercial so it’s straight out of the bag, you can pick up African violet mix with works well for begonias because it carries the same features the as the DIY potting mix above.

 

Fertilizing

Begonia tuberhybrida, need a healthy amount of fertilizer to produce its large, beautiful blooms. Fertilizer also becomes more important if you’re using a soil-less potting mix since these don’t come with any nutrients.

That said, always remember that too much fertilizer can be harmful to your plant. So, while your begonia tuberhybrida needs it for optimum growth, make sure you don’t overfeed it. Otherwise, you can run the risk of fertilizer burn.

Also, remember that the plant is actively growing during spring and summer. As such, this is when it needs regular feeding. You don’t need to fertilize in the winter.

Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer (20-20-20) diluted to half strength every 2 to 4 weeks. Begin at the more conservative end and slowly work your way up if the plant isn’t growing as well as it should be.

Alternatively, you can likewise use a 15-30-15 fertilizer which has a higher concentration of phosphorus, which promotes blooming.

 

Pruning Begonia x Tuberhybrida

Come fall, your begonia tuberhybrida will go dormant. If you’re growing your begonia tuberhybrida outside, you want to dig it up then prune them before first frost arrives in the fall.

Here, you’ll want to cut back the steam down to the tubers.Then, store indoors them in a cool dry place and allow them dry out.

If you’re growing them indoors or live somewhere that has sunny weather all year round, you don’t have to worry about digging them out.

Instead, just keep them in a cozy spot away from the cold. Then, cut them back down the soil and cover with a thick layer of mulch.

 

Begonia x Tuberhybrida Propagation

Begonia x Tuberhybrida

source: wikimedia commons

Propagating begonia tuberhybrida is often done via root cuttings. Here, it is important to understand that the plant doesn’t have fibrous roots like most houseplants. Instead, it has tubers, which are bulbous growths. As such, it will look very different once you dig it up.

  • Carefully remove the plant from the soil. Shake off any excess soil that comes along with it.
  • Separate the tubers and trace the stems coming out of each tuber.
  • Cut off the stem near the tuber. Then leave the tuber to dry in a warm, bright but indirect light.
  • Replant your tuberhybrida. And, plant each of the tubers into soil.
  • Allow it to grow.

 

Winter Care for Tuberous Begonias

This section covers winter care for your begonia tuberhybrida. If you live in a warm region that has sunlight all year round, or keep it indoors, you don’t need to do this part.

But, if there’s frost in your area, it is a good idea to follow the steps below so you can replant your begonia tuberhybrida when spring comes.

  • In the fall around August, start to reduce watering. You’ll also want to gradually reduce feeding until you completely stop.
  • Soon, the leaves will turn yellow and begin to die.
  • When first frost arrives, dig up the tubers from soil.
  • Cut back the stems close to the tuber to about 5 to 6 inches.
  • Next, you want to allow them to dry. Store them in a moderately warm place with temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Keep them away from direct sunlight.
  • You also want to clean off any excess soil form the roots and stems. Don’t use water to do this because you want the tubers to dry.
  • Place them in a plastic back. Make sure to poke some holes for ventilation.
  • Store the bag in a cool pace with temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees.
  • Check regularly for any rot or soft parts. Remove these when you see them.
  • When spring arrives, replant them outside.

 

Transplanting & Repotting Begonia x Tuberhybrida

Every 2 years, you’ll likely need to repot your begonia tuberhybrida. In some cases, a little earlier than that. The plant doesn’t mind being pot bound so you can keep it there a little longer.

But, once the roots start covering the pot, it is a sign that it has outgrown its current home.

When repotting, choose a container that is 2 inches larger than your current one. If you let it grow quite a bit after being rootbound, you may go up to 4 inches.

But, you don’t want to jump too many pot sizes because the excess space can stress out the plant. Similarly, it increases the amount of moisture when you water, which also takes longer to dry.

Make sure that the container you use comes with drainage holes. This will allow excess water to escape easily.

 

Toxicity

As with other begonia, you want to keep the begonia tuberhybrida away from young kids, dogs, cats and horses. It is toxic is all of us, including humans and animals. And, which it is rarely deadly, ingesting enough of it can cause serious health issues including vomiting, nausea, dizziness to name a few.

 

Pests and Diseases

Begonia × tuberhybrida are no doubt very beautiful plants. But, from above, you know they take a little bit of care to survive. And, pests and diseases are no different.

The plant is prone to quite a few of these problems. As such, you want to regularly inspect your plant and make sure to keep it in good health. A healthy begonia tuberhybrida is more resistant to these issues.

On the other hand, plants under stress are more susceptible to them.

Begonia tuberhybrida are vulnerable to moisture-related diseases. This includes root rot, powdery mildew, gray mold and other fungal infections.

It’s love for moist soil in combination for high humidity make these constant concerns. As such, using well-draining soil and knowing when to water are both very important.

Similarly, not allowing the leaves to get wet unnecessarily is essential. Leaving moisture on foliage for long periods of time encourage mildew, mold and leaf spot.

On the other hand, the most common pests that attack your plant include spider mites, thrips, mealybugs.

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