Rex Begonias have the most captivating, unique foliage of any plants in the begonia family. In fact, where other begonia cultivars are grown for their brilliantly colored blossoms, Rex Begonias are prized for their distinctive foliage. Thriving in low light, they offer an enchanting aesthetic to your indoor decor and your outdoor shady flowerbeds or container gardens. When you find the perfect location, the varying foliage on each variety provides a kaleidoscope of hues and patterns. Let us introduce you to the many attributes of Rex Begonias, providing insights into their care, maintenance, and how to maximize their ornamental appeal.
Rex Begonias are renowned for their striking leaf variations and textures. The leaves put on an exciting exhibition in an astounding range of colors, displaying unique and intricate patterns. The foliage may have a smooth, crinkled, or velvety texture, further enhancing their visual appeal. Unlike their tuberous counterparts, Rex Begonias are grown primarily for their foliage, not for their flowers, which are inconsequential when compared to this begonia plant’s foliage.
For Optimal Growth:
Light: Rex Begonias enjoy an environment with filtered sunlight. This makes them ideal for north or east-facing windows, for that partially or almost fully shaded flowerbed, or for a container garden on a covered porch or patio.
Watering: These begonia plants prefer consistently moist soil but are susceptible to root rot if over-watered. It is best to water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Using room temperature water is advisable to avoid shocking the plant's roots. Rex Begonias also crave high humidity. We recommend using a pebble humidity tray or a room humidifier, especially when it is frigid outside and the furnace is running indoors. Misting the leaves may help but proceed with caution; over misting can lead to leaf spot disease.
Soil: Rex Begonias grow from rhizomes, so having room for the rhizomes to spread will provide the best result. Use a porous potting mix in a somewhat shallow, but wide container if growing in pots or baskets.
Fertilizing: Feed Rex Begonias every month during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Reduce feeding in the winter months when the plant's growth naturally slows and if you have moved them from your garden to indoors.
Pruning and Cleaning: Regularly removing any yellowing or dead leaves is vital for maintaining this begonia variety’s health and appearance. Also promptly remove leaves that drop onto the soil, to prevent disease. In-the-know gardeners pinch the flowers off to encourage fuller growth.
Pest Control: If your Rex Begonias are growing in a flowerbed, check on the undersides of the leaves regularly for spider mites, aphids, and mealy bugs, this cultivar’s most common pests. Be sure to check before moving your begonia plants into the house for the winter; these pests will gladly migrate to your other house plants. There are many organic and chemical options for pest control.
Show Them Off:
Versatile Planting Options: Rex Begonias are striking in any situation. Indoors, they stand alone beautifully, or you can display them in a grouping with other low-light loving plants. Outdoors, they can provide interest in a shady spot or stand out in containers or hanging baskets. Remember, if planting in containers, to allow room for the rhizomes to spread; use a wide, shallow pot.
Companion Plants: Rex Begonias pair well with ferns and hostas for a lush, woodland aesthetic. Consider planting them with shade loving bloomers, especially if taller; these begonia plants’ foliage are the perfect artful accompaniment when planted as an accent in front of taller plants. They also look amazing when planted in front of shade-loving ornamental grasses, such as Feather Reed Grass, Blue Fescue, or Bottlebrush Grass.
Rex begonias are a splendid choice for anyone looking to add vibrant foliage and texture to shady garden spots or to their indoor decor. Their easy-care nature, versatility, and stunning leaf patterns have made them a favorite among many gardeners, be they novice or professional. We invite you to embrace the art of shade gardening with these magnificent plants!