Repotting Begonias

birdsnbloomsJune 22, 2012


I have 18 or so Begonias. Many are in original containers, (when purchased) and others have been in the same pots/soil for years.

One reason, seems my Begonias do best when root-bound, so I'm afraid to up the size.

Am I being silly? lol

It's been a very hot spring, high 90's, so soil dries daily.

I don't mind watering, but some Begonias are so root-bound there isn't room for roots to grow.

Pot sizes range from 2.5" to 8". The majority are in 4".

Should I repot 1 size larger or let be and continue daily watering?

Do Begonias require tall or short pots? Tall pots are getting hard to find. I've looked everywhere..

Plain, plastic pots, nothing ornate. Tall ceramics and clay are available, but I prefer plastic.

Also, what about soil? I have various Begonias, many w/o species ID's.

Is it safe to pot in a little lower pH soil, or not?

I know some here are Begonia experts. Please help.

Thanks much, Toni

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I'm no expert, Toni, but overpotting kills more begonias than underpotting. Since yours have been crowded for so long it seems to me there is a risk that the rootball is not getting as wet as you think. We bought a tree once, soaked it all night, cut off the container the next day to plant it and it was so rootbound the center wasn't even wet, apparently it had been in stock for well over a year. If your plants are behaving well why not wait until Fall to do the moving on. Shallow pots are supposed to be best for begonias but it is rare to find them anymore, I always check out flea markets, etc., to look for what they used to call azalea pots. Also, I have a lot of 6" plastic pots, some are actually smaller than others and I have found they can be cut back to be lower and useful.I don't think pH is all that important but that is just my opinion. I have a lot potted in plain sphagnum but of course that would not do for shrubby or cane like plants. By the way, I still have one tiny plant of luxurians struggling along, I can't believe it is almost a year old!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Hey Woebegonia....How've you been?

I don't know what to do. Some roots are sticking out of drainage holes, 7" or

Are your Begonias in straight Sphagnum? How often do you water? Wow! lol

A couple 'FAKE' Luxurians, lol, are still in 2" pots, stand about 1' tall.

Shallow pots are easy to find, 'depending on your definition of shallow.'
They're sold on Amazon, and sometimes Ebay. I bought plastic azalea pots from Amazon last year.

Can't believe a year has gone by since you stated Luxurian seeds. Sheesh, time flies.
Mine never germinated. Think it was too cold. Never got around to placing a heating mat, also, seeds were sitting a while. I give up on sowing

Now that I found the real deal Luxurians, no more searching or trying to

I thought Begonias needed semi-acidic soil? No?

The last month, I've been repotting plants by type. There's many left, but down to Begonias and Clivias..
Then, large plants like citrus, Bird of Paradise, Coffee tree, etc.

Anyway, hope you're doing well, Woe...take care, Toni

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Begonias supposedly like pH between 6 and 7. Roots coming out the bottom of a pot? Maybe it is time to move it on, you may have to cut them/it out of the pot! I use a lot of sphagnum but mainly in terrariums. I cut it in small pieces and soak it in a little Physan 20 (because I hate it when plant lights make it green) and also in a light fertilizer solution. Sometimes I add coarse or fine perlite or vermiculite, as I think most growers do, some people add things like volcanic gravel or clay pellets. A lot of sphagnum isn't worth the money you pay for it,there may be more dirt and debris than moss when you soak it and try to clean it. But maybe you know that. Show us some pics when you have time.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Hey Woebegonia..

Finshed unpotting, repotting, 'many in fresh soil, but same pot,' ST'ing and fertilizing w/Fish Emulsion.

There's some Peat in MG soil...I ran out of peat, 'along with other mediums,' so couldn't add extra.

Woe, because MG contains Peat, when a plant needs acidic soil I usually add a handful, (peat) to a semi-large pot mixed w/other ingredients.
Soil is well-draining.

I'll have to snap new pics..think my Begonia pics are from 2011 and before. All but Luxurians, lol.

BTW, how's your seedling doing? Did you set it outdoors?
One thing I noticed, they're slowwwww growers. Since mine came in, nary a new leaf.
But, it's in the LR, w/little light. Very shady. It's too hot inside, 'no a/c or c/a' to place among other plants.
My other Begonias are getting more light, but they don't like the heat. And it's been HOT here..Today supposed to be 104F.
I need to buy a small, rotating fan to use in the room.

I wouldn't mind setting Begonias outside, but worried about ants..they've been a major problem.
Found one in my Begonia while repotting. I can't stand bugs!

Hope all is well. The Begonia Forum is slow. Why is that? Many love Begonias. Toni

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hey, I should come in here more. Probably will since my kind neighbor's gifts made me now the proud owner of several more Begonias.

Sounds like you're finished with the repotting already so this probably doesn't mean much but when I potted up those gift plants and the others I already had, I just used the same stuff I do for all of my pots. Glad I hadn't read this first, I would have been intimidated, I think. The plants are growing well though, so they must like their new homes.

I hadn't realized your plants were inside when you asked me about what kind of sun mine were getting. A lot of my plants (Begonias and otherwise) get ants when I put them outside but their performance outside makes me feel like it's worth dealing with those pots. Understandable when others don't feel the same way - that can really be a chore and ate up the better part of 2 days last time. Hanging plants still sometimes get ants, but it's much less likely. Do you have any places to hang (some of) them?

Is it just your "plant room" that doesn't have A/C or the whole house? I thought Begonias did like heat. Is that just certain kinds? I know the ones my neighbor gave me have never been inside her house, she's had them for decades.

Agree about wanting to see pics!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Purple!!! Howdy,

I'm happy seeing you here.

More gifts? You do have a kind neighbor. Very generous. Did she give you more plants since, was it yesterday???

Yep, ALL finished repotting Begonias, a couple were in the same pots, um, 10-yrs......Now I'll move on to the next type of plants..etc.

Purple, the entire house is w/o a/c..So it's hot..Yesterday got up to 103F..Oh well, they said 104.
I didn't do a darn thing. Didn't want to move...Fed the birds and Coco..I ate dinner at 11pm..

Begonias like warmth, but not harsh hot heat..the sun shines directly in the plant room. Temps are the same as outdoors, maybe higher since the sun has been so strong. It's too much for fragile Begonias.
When I stop at the store I'm planning on buying a small, rotating fan for that room.
BTW, at night, 'gonias like it on the cool, not cold. They winter in the same room, 'which can be icy, during winter months.

Purple, usually in summer I set Begonias on the side of the house on the third tier of a shelf..the upper tiers hold Hoyas. It's very shady..
But, like I said, 1. it's been super hot/sunny and 2. ANTS, LOL. I don't care if bugs stroll through my plants when outside, but when they come in it's a different story.

Purple, my Trandscantia is still outside in a pot of water, soaking 2-weeks now..there had to be 50000000 ants, on this plant, in my house!!! I panicked when I saw them. They were EVERYWHERE. When I hauled the T out out the house, ants were swarming over my hand..YUCK!!
I found one ant in Begonias while repotting..there were probably more, but it took a couple days to finish repotting. Begonias were on the floor, in order, waiting their turn. I believe ants communicate..'get out, she's gonna get you.' lol.

So, this year Begonias are in the house. But, who knows, maybe I'll change my mind and set them out. When it cools.
When I asked about light.....
Your BEAUTIFUL, basket Begonia is hanging on your front porch. I wondered if the sun shone bright, strong or shady. See what I meant? My front porch gets direct west sun.

Do you bring Begonias indoors during winter or is it warm enough they'll survive? Does your neighbor keep Begonias potted or in-ground?

Purple, no place to hang plants, but I have a few poles meant for hanging plants, bird feeders, etc.
But, they're used up and get too much light for Begonias..mostly west light. I placed a Wax Begonia, 'saved from the previous year,' on one of these poles, and it turned super red..burned..Think I have a pics.


2011, in shade

It actually looked nice all red, but I felt bad for the plant thinking it might hurt. Was it sunburn??

Anyway, happy you're here, but it's kinda slow.

How are your new Begonias doing?

Oh, it's so dark..looks like the storm in The Wizard of Oz. Thunder and lighting, temps in the 80's, high humdidity..if I'd known, my Begonias would have been outside..sigh..

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I feel really terrible you have no A/C!!! Hope the temps go back down to normal there soon!

Besides being "cane" (and the one rhizomatous) I don't know what kind the Begonias are from my neighbor. Sorry if I was confusing, I was referring to the same ones from a few weeks ago. She keeps them outside all summer, then in a shed with a couple windows for the winter. She said she turns on a space heater if it's going to be below 25. I don't have that luxury, will have to bring them in. The main room I keep plants for winter stays about 55-65 with a south window.

They're in quite a bit of sun here at my house, from sunrise until about 11:30, then again after about 3 or 4. I put updated pics of them on house plant forum yesterday. They don't look sunburned to me. The new hanging basket one, either. In just the week I've had it, it's started to make flowers, I suspect from more light. At the store it was under that black mesh shade cloth. I was afraid it would be less hanging where it is but now I don't think so. That stuff makes more shade than it seems like, I think.

Your hanging plant pictured above has a lot more flowers in the sunnier spot.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Purple, please don't feel sorry, after a while you get used to the heat.
I drink plenty of water, and keep a face clothe filled w/ice cubes to cool off..
It's Coco and the birds I worry about.

When you have time, please post pics of your Begonias. A couple people like HCM? and Woebegonia are very helpful.
Problem is this thread is slow.

Your neighbor is really dedicated..dh would kill me if I kept a heater on in the garage, lol.
She has a super-green thumb. For one, heaters dry air..Begonias love humidity, so she must have a secret I'd like to

She gave you lovely cuttings...very healty and so big.

Purple, your house temp and south windows are perfect. The only addition would be humidity..but it may be humid there?
If not, there's always humidity treys, and misting..and/or a humidfier.

We might not have a/c but no matter what we can or cannot afford, I use a humidifer in winter..Not only for plants, but I can't breath in dry air..humidity can drop to 5%.

You're right Purple..Wax Begonia has a lot more, is it sunburned?

Anyway, I'm glad you like Begonias, too. lol. What I've seen, yours are doing great..

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Is it sunburned? I've been wondering that too because of this one and a discussion elsewhere (annuals maybe?) about the same thing. It doesn't seem like a plant that is burning would be able to make flowers, but all I have to go on is that thought - and our plants. I think the reddish leaves are more interesting and if it can stand the heat and make flowers, that's fine for me.

Did you ever repot your Begonias?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 3:44PM
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WE had heat near 100 degrees last week, too. I had a crazy notion to take a fan outside and place it near my plants! Here is an ant deterrent recipe which came on an ad for someone's garden magazine, I've not tried it: ANT AMBROSIA, 4 to 5 T. Cornmeal, 3 T. Bacon Grease, 3 T. Baking Powder, and 3 pkg, Baker's Yeast, Mix meal and grease into a paste, add b.p. and yeast, dab it on something and put it near the ants.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 9:32AM
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Woe, add some borax to that recipe and it will kill the ants. You can sprinkle it along the edges of a counter or floor, etc. and it will kill them, too.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 9:40AM
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THanks for the tip!They are not in the house (yet). I have a tiny bit of diazinon hoarded but I wish it were more . . . I don't have air conditioning either but isn't it supposed to be hard on house plants? I think I've read that someplace.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 11:26AM
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gregsytch(z9b Tampa Bay)

While begonias so well rootbound, they should be stepped up gradually for best growth. Increase in size one, 4" to 5/6" depending on the variety and always use a well-drained mix. I use ProMixHP (High Porosity) and add charcoal bits. In our hot, rainy summer I still add a little perlite. During winter, straight from the bag. I also grow outdoors all year as our winters are mild. They grow in shadehouses and are only cold protected by frost blanket, so exposure to the wind does dry them out. Try eBay for different size pots, and some sell in small batches. I also search centers such as Lowes as they often have some "hidden" in the back that the store does not care if they go away :-)). Canes prefer taller pots, rhizos squatty pots. My landscape plants are only planted once they have reached 10"/3gal pots to ensure success. Smaller plants struggle in our sandy loam no matter the improvement.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Didn't realize it's been so long since I've been here.

Well, the heat eventually got to me. 104F w/heat index of 109F got to be too much.

After a rather lengthy 'TALK' w/dh, he gave in and bought an a/c 7/5/12...Miracles do
I keep in running when days are 99F or higher; since the 5th it's been on approximately 5 times.

My poor Begonias took a toll for the worse during our short but horrid heatwave.
The canes did okay, but others look awful. Especially my 6-yr-old Venition 'sp' Red. I feel terrible. It was one of my favorites. I doubt it will survive, If no growth forms by late August, or when plants are brought back in for winter, it has to go. It's out of my hands, did everything possible for its survival.

Ants. What's with ants?
The 18th of July, they were running throughout three rooms of the house. I was horrified!!!
I had a doc appt, so killed as many as possible, but had to leave. When I returned home, 'felt like signing myself in the hospital, HATE ants,' ants were everywhere.

I spray ants w/vinegar which kills on contact...I usually spray enough so there are small puddles where they congregate, so unless an ant/s happen to run in the puddles, they're safe.

After two-days of a trillion and one ants, 'believe me, I have used non-chemical insecticides, home-made remedies w/o success,' I set out ant baits called Terro.

Ironically, it was as if they sensed I placed baits out..The following morning, they were gone. I KNOW this stuff works, but not that fast!

There's still a few ants in the kitchen, 'YUCK' but I use the vinegar when they happen by.

Woe, how does your recipie kill or deter ants??? If anything, it sounds like they'd enjoy dining

Eahamel. I've tried Borax outdoors, but it doesn't help. I can't use inside because we have birds and a dog. My birds are not caged during the day. They sometimes fly from room one to room two, but are curious and possibly nibble poison.
The baits are in areas birds/dog cannot possible get.

Woe, just reread the first line of your post..ROFL. Too funny. Taking a fan outside. When temps are 100 and humidity 75% and higher, central air won't cool off the outdoors, lol.

Purple...sorry, just noticed you asked if I repotted Begonias.
Actually, they were repotted in spring.
But, I experienced.
I tried a grittier mix as some say it's does well on their plants. My Begonias are unhappy. Those potted in this mix will be repotted in the same soil recipie they have been in throughout the years.

Old but new to me. My motto: Don't fix something that isn't broken. Toni

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:13PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

O I see that now, about the repotting, as I "read the past." Sorry, I can't remember enough about conversations sometimes, should re-read/refresh memory before saying something else. Anyway, sorry your plants are unhappy. No pics? Glad to hear about your new A/C though! We don't always run it in the daytime but I can't sleep without it. Don't you wish you owned an A/C shop about now?!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Purple, not to worry. Sometimes there's a LOT of reading to catch up. I truly understand.

Yes, that killer heat and harsh sun really distroyed some nice specimens. If I had thought about it, I should have moved Begonias in the LR where a ceiling fan was running. Not much light, but it might have helped.

No new pics, since they look terrible. lol. I took a pic of my Wax Begonia this morning. It's outside, and was during the heat wave, but IMO Wax Begonias can withstand most weather. Including scorching sun.
However, it lost a few stems, too.

Also, while misting the other Begonias, I broke off a tall piece.
I'd like to root, but don't know how it's done. Water, soil?

I could take pics of the other 'gonias, but to shame. lol.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:55AM
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Greg, I am happy you are still talking 'begonia' after the hurricane mess! WE had high temps and freak hot wind everywhere, I didn't know where to start protecting my poor plants; however as my canes were in a garden cart I grabbed the cart, shedding leaves, pushed it in and under a large fir tree and it was like magic, the wind couldn't reach the plants. I leave it there all night now and push it out in the sun in the morning, don't know why it took me years to think of that. I have a picture of my cart, I will see if I can get it on this site soon, just for information.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Toni, just stick the piece in some soil with a node buried. If you're not sure it's fully hydrated, maybe overnight in water first. Is it a cane type? The ones I've cut don't even stop flowering, haven't had any cane cuttings fail (except some of the pieces (from the neighbor's gift plants) of canes I put in pots that had no leaves are not rotted but not doing anything - yet.)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Woebegonia...did you ever snap a pic of your cart?

Purple, it's still in I KNOW if it goes in soil I'll forget to water. It's a cane type.

If/Once it roots, I'll place in soil.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Yes, Toni, that litle plant has put on a growth spurt and Itook a photo, I will try and get it into the computer this weekend. I suppose I should try and find the original thread.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Great..the last time you posted you were a bit worried about your luxurians. It all worked out..

Yes, when you have time, please post. What conditions is it getting?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Toni, this is the photo taken on July 17 Notice the tiny leaf starting to divide. This plantlet is about a year old and has done almost nothing until this last month.Unbelievable! They say all species spread out their germination as a survival mechanism, but I've never heard of one stalling this long. It must not like my house. I am struggling with photos today, I have another to send along.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Woebegonia, your Begonia certainly grew tall! It's also very healthy.
Sown from seeds..Amazing. I tried a second time, but it never germinted..I'll leave the sowing to

Yes, I see the split. I believe luxurians is a slow-grower.
When I was hunting one down, I also reseached..came across more sites that TALKED luxurians than sold was said B. luxurians are slow-growing.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Toni this was taken Aug. 7, note how the leaf seems to be thickening.Both Stewart's luxurians and Lee's luxurians are 'chance seedlings', not hybrids. Makes me wonder if luxurians has ever been hybridized. I will take another photo in September.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Woe, I'm unfamiliar with Lee Luxurians...What's the difference?

Is Stewart's Luxurians, the one you sowed? The same place er both ordered from?
I thought his seeds were B. Luxurins w/very thin leaves? Not Stewart.

What is your Begonia potted in? I see very little growing medium?? Whatever, it's doing well. Very healthy.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 2:00PM
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I don't know that there are seeds of Lee's luxurians or Stewart's luxurians. The form I am (trying to) grow is from seeds of the species, bought from someone in Australia, and if I lose this one there are plenty to re-start. I think one of the two chance seedlings was sold to you, remember how disappointed you were in the look? Well, it's been a long time. I am growing in Jiffy Mix now. I don't know how Lee's and Stewart's differ, probably don't have the thin leaves or maybe fewer of them and thicker.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Woebegonia..Yep, you and I bought from the same seller in Australia.
My seeds didn't germinate, yours did. :)

I'll have to Google B.Lee pics..don't know what they look like. Stewarts have thicker leaves than a true, thin leaf B. Lux.

If you recall, the seller had a pic of a thin-leaf Lux?? Guess that's what Mark meant, 'different thread' by sellers being deceptive.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 10:28AM
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