Plant of the Month – February, 2009
Begonia x benariensis ‘Big’. Photos courtesy of Jimmy Turner.
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Begonia x benariensis ‘Big’
Common name: ‘Big’ begonia
Flowers: Red or pink
Foliage: Green or bronze glossy foliage
Mature height: 18" x 18"
Hardiness: Summer annual
Soil: Well drained
Exposure: Full sun to shade
Water usage: Medium
Sources: Local nurseries
One hundred years ago Benary Seed Company introduced the first hybrid begonia, ‘Primadonna’. Recently they have come out with a new begonia that is made for Texas. It’s ‘Big’, not only in name, but also in size. This new series of wax begonia grows to 18 to 24 inches tall and has 2- to 3-inch-sized flowers in large clusters. This new, large, seed-grown begonia comes in two flower colors – rose and red – but more importantly, it comes in bronze-leaf and green-leaf versions. I am most excited about the deep-bronze-leaf version with bright red flowers. Finally, a large-growing, bronze-leaf begonia for full Texas sun!
‘Big’ begonias have upright arching growth that works equally well in containers or planted en masse. I’ve had excellent results with them in both full sun and shade. This spring you should be able to find ‘Big’ at your local nurseries in quart-size pots and hanging baskets. They are just too vigorous to grow in the more familiar 4-inch pots that you see other waxleaf begonias in.
If everything in Texas is supposedly bigger, then shouldn’t we all upgrade our bedding begonias to ‘Big’? I know you’ll certainly see some this year in the displays at the Dallas Arboretum.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the senior director of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit www.dallasplanttrials.org for more information on his trials.