Can begonias take full sun? Yes, depending on the species. The temptation to grow your begonias outdoors or take them outside is understandable. Imagine what all those incredibly beautiful begonia flowers can do to a garden, terrace, or patio? And you might have heard whispers that begonias are even more beautiful in the sun. That’s absolutely true!
The perfectly human trait of being curious is what can throw up questions like, ‘Can begonias take full sun?’ After all, tons of write-ups on how to grow begonia (and tips from folks that grow begonias) all insist begonias are shade-loving plants even if they are original from tropical regions.
This article provides all the answers to the ‘growing begonias in full sun’ questions bouncing around your head. The article also contains all you need to know about the growing conditions and some popular begonia cultivars that can thrive in full sun.
Can Begonias Take Full Sun?
Begonias (Begonia spp), are generally known to prefer partial shade or indirect light to thrive and bloom even though they are tropical plants. But there are several begonias varieties that thrive well in full sun; and some that are versatile enough to inhabit both the sun or shade divide successfully.
Due to this flexibility among the different varieties, there is a tendency towards confusion when deciding if a particular variety can be grown outdoors in full sun or not.
So which begonia can be grown in full sun?
Begonias that can Grow in Full Sun
In temperate regions with very cold winters, sunlight-loving begonias are grown as annuals in plant hardiness zones 11 and 12. In warmer climates though, they can survive the harsh growing conditions of the comparatively milder winter months.
This makes them ideal perennials you can use to beautify your garden all year round if you live in areas with less severe winters.
The following are some popular begonias that can take full sun:
These are the most popular type of sun tolerant begonias. Growing up to about a foot tall, they can also thrive in shady areas.
They bloom with double, bronze-colored, rose-like flowers. The most common wax begonia cultivars such as the Cocktail whisky, Olympia series, Ambassador series, and Doublet series can bloom throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.
Common varieties of this recently introduced begonia include the Bossa Nova, Santa Cruz, and Bonfire. The matured plants are squat and shrub-like with thin stems supporting the flowers making them excellent container plants.
The flowers bloom in a wide variety of colors including yellow, pink, white, and shades of orange and red. Like wax begonias, most of them are also tolerant of shade.
This species of begonias are the largest of all the sun-loving begonias producing equally bigger blooms. Also shade-tolerant, they are very easy to grow with an interesting profusion of flowers ranging from shades of white to pink and red.
Due to their large size, they are very striking in gardens or wherever they are placed. Common varieties of interspecific begonias include the Big series, Whopper series, and Dragonwing series. They are a favorite of newbies and as showpiece flowers, because they are easy to cultivate and easily stand out in a crowd of flowers respectively.
How To Care for Sun Loving Begonias
Growing and caring for begonias in full sun is not radically different from their shade-loving cousins. The growing conditions are almost similar with some slight variations mostly related to outdoor planting issues and watering.
Keep in mind though that growing begonias in full sun doesn’t mean allowing them to face the sun’s full intensity, including the fierce midday sunlight, throughout the day. Like most plants, sun-loving begonias can only tolerate about 6 hours of full sunlight daily.
And the best times of the day to get this sunlight are mornings and late afternoons. It is important to provide some form of afternoon shade as protection to the plant when the blazing sun is at its zenith around mid-day.
That said, wax begonias can survive the intense midday sun without recourse to shade.
With the ‘full sun’ issue settled, let’s take a look at other full sun begonia growing and care tips.
A potting soil that drains well is the recommended soil type for growing them in pots or planters.
For garden begonia, you want nutrient-rich humus soil that drains well. Compact, heavy soils inhibit soil aeration and retain too much water leading to root rot and other diseases.
The crucial issue when it comes to irrigating begonia is to always ensure the soil is moist as opposed to soggy. In pots, water until excess water starts dripping out of the drainage holes.
Generally, it’s best to water early in the morning before the sun comes up or late afternoons. While watering, direct the stream of water towards the base of the plant. You could also much the soil around the base of the plants to help reduce soil moisture evaporation.
Note also that the watering frequency depends on the weather conditions. You’d water more in summer and spring than in the fall and winter. A simple rule to follow is to only water when the top 1 – 2 inches of soil is dry.
A cool and very effective trick is to stick a finger about 2 inches into the soil to gauge the moisture level of that layer of soil. If the finger comes up dry, it’s time to water. Otherwise, let the soil be for the moment.
Begonias, no matter the variety, generally don’t need extra plant food if the soil is nutrient-rich. In nutrient-poor soil though, lightly applying an all-purpose fertilizer containing about 10%nitrogen content would be great.
Take your begonias indoors to a warmer area during winter. Most varieties don’t survive frost.
To prevent legginess and encourage new growth, you can prune out old or dead stems.
To prevent the plant from becoming too big and to maintain its shape, you can cut back the stems at the leave nodes.
Cutting or pruning is best carried out in the height of the growing season in spring and summer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Begonias In Sun
Are Begonias Heat Tolerant?
That depends on the variety. Most begonias thrive best in the shade. But quite a few are heat tolerant with the wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens) known as the most heat-tolerant variety.
Which Begonias can Tolerant Sun?
The Bolivensis begonia, wax begonia, and interspecific begonias are the most common begonias that can tolerate the sun.
What is the Best Place to Plant Begonias?
The best location for growing begonias depends on the begonia variety you want to plant.
Sun-loving begonias would thrive well outdoors in areas that get at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. On the other hand, shade loving begonias do well in partial shade or indirect light.
Indoors, you want them to keep them in well-lighted areas away from heat sources. Outdoors, they would prefer shaded locations. The shade can be provided by larger plants and trees in the garden.
Can Angel Wing Begonias Take Full Sun?
The best light requirement for Angel wing begonias is bright indirect light. While they are not as sensitive as some other begonias to direct sunlight, it is harmful to them, especially in the spring and summer. In the winter though, some can handle direct sunlight.