For large, brilliant blooms in open shade or filtered sunlight, tuberous begonias, in their varied forms and colors, can be the answer to your need. Today these gorgeous flowering bulbs are enjoying tremendous popularity, and some amateur gardeners collect them, as they do geraniums, fuchsias, and dahlias, or African violets indoors. Hybrid varieties, far removed from the original species, are truly exotic beauties which are easy and rewarding to grow. They solve the problem of what to consider for part shade, particularly where vivid colors are needed to enliven terraces or porches.
Tuberous begonias are classified according to shape of bloom-camellia-flowered, including the picotee or double marginata; carnation-flowered; single-frilled or crispa, including Begonia crispa marginata; hanging basket; crested; rosebud; B. multiflora; daffodil-flowered; and hollyhock-flowered.
The camellia-flowered begonias are very popular. Older varieties, with their smooth margins, did not resemble camellias as much as the newer hybrids, with their ruffled, wavy-edged petals. In the picotee or double mar-ginata class, the edges are of contrasting color and the broad border is usually irregular. They make lovely pot plants.
The carnation-flowered begonias produce smaller, generally heavier blooms in an extensive color range. The lovely single-frilled or crispa begonias have ruffled petals. In one form, Begonia crispa marginata, the edges offer color contrast. Fascination is a delightful variety in this group.
For Hanging Baskets, Planters, and Window Boxes
Hanging-basket tuberous begonias, the cascading types, B. pendula flora-plena, bear single or double blooms on arching stems. As a rule, these smaller-flowering types are more floriferous than the large ones. There is also a strain that produces miniature camellia-like flowers.
Crested begonias, B. cristata, have slightly frilled single flowers. These are carried above the foliage. One of the loveliest is Autumn Glow, with apricot flowers crested with dark copper, handsome as an accent plant in a container.
The interesting rosebud types, in shades of rose and
pink, are favorites with many gardeners, though the flowers tend to develop poor centers when they mature. Plants have a free-flowering habit.
Begonia multiflora is the small-flowered type sometimes listed as nana. Well known and still one of the best is the yellow Madame Helene Harms. On plants to six inches tall, multiflora begonias support flowers high above the foliage. Their compact habit and free-flowering nature make them good for large planters. Excellent, too, for window boxes, they withstand more heat and direct sunshine than the others, especially along coastal areas where fogs prevail.