Begonias are classic landscape choices

Published 9:06 am Monday, June 26, 2023

By Eddie Smith

MSU Extension Service

In the landscape, begonias are often thought of as annual plants you grow in shade areas, but most of today’s varieties grow well in full sun. This makes them very versatile.

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A benefit of begonias grown in the sun is that they tend to develop more flowers than those in the shade. All begonias tend to bloom continuously throughout the summer and early fall.

One thing I love about begonias is that the plants are self-cleaning. That means the spent flowers tend to fall off by themselves, and no deadheading is required.

Wax begonias are very popular bedding plants used as annuals or planted in containers as perennials and brought inside during the winter.

They can be used in patio containers, window boxes or shady locations, and they can be planted along walkways or woodland edges. These plants are good additions to pollinator and drought-resistant gardens.

The Cocktail Vodka wax begonias are certainly top shelf.

The color combination of coppery-green, amazingly shiny foliage with strikingly rich, reddish-orange blossoms will have everybody talking. Regardless of where you plant it, your Cocktail Vodka wax begonia will be noticed.

Cocktail Vodka begonias are fine choices for the garden, but they are also good selections for planting in outdoor containers and hanging baskets. They are often used as filler plants in the “spiller-thriller-filler” container combination. In a container, their mass of flowers and foliage fills gaps against which the thriller plants stand out.

Dragon Wing red begonia, a hybrid cross between angelwing begonia and wax begonia, is considered to be one of the most beautiful begonias on the market. It was selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner for 2002.

In full sun, the plant is more compact, and the foliage develops a reddish cast. In partial shade, the look is lush, tropical and exotic.

Dragon Wing begonias bloom almost constantly from spring until frost, boasting huge scarlet panicles that hang down and contrast with the dark-green, glossy leaves. Dragon Wing begonias are ideal for hanging baskets on the front porch or in containers, and they can put on some astonishing growth all season long.

The Dragon Wing begonia makes a strong accent as a thriller centerpiece for a container, as a one-plant show for a hanging basket or a great choice for mass plantings. With a mounded shape that reaches 18 inches tall and wide and tropical-looking foliage, this plant shines as a focal point in any location.

There are several different varieties of Cocktail begonias and Dragon Wing begonias. You will surely find some you like at your local garden center or nursery.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Eddie Smith is a gardening specialist and Pearl River County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He is also host of the popular Southern Gardening television programs. Locate Southern Gardening products online at