weeder’s digest: collecting begonias

Well, hello.

Nice to see you again…Shall we?

Lately, when I’m not thinking of you, I’m been thinking about winter… about how it snuck up on me – suddenly I’m unconsciously reaching for a butternut squash at the supermarket, or holing up with 2 pints of B&J, a bottle of wine and astrology paraphernalia. I also have time lately to look around and consider my houseplants. Specifically, my recent obsession with collecting begonias.

Surely a professional astrologer could pinpoint the precise planetary angles in my star chart – a synergy that results in an acute tendency to collect and hoard. Let’s consider my history:

1985, first snowy day: I tell my sister (then aged 3) that winter is fast approaching and we need to gather all the nuts and berries in the yard or else we’re sure to starve. She cries; I console her with a mud pie.

1988 – 1990: I collect every piece of Easter and Halloween candy in a shoebox in the bottom of my closet. I strategically ration the candy – by only consuming small nibbles – so that it lasts all year round. These are the hardest days yet.

1991: I begin meeting with a stamp-collecting group in the back of an aging Roy Rogers restaurant. I wow the other members with my strong showing of the 1952 Helsinki Commemorative Olympic Stamps.

1993: A TJ Max opens in my town, and I begin pillaging the home section; spending my babysitting earnings ($3/hour, can you believe it!) to amass an unruly collection of god-awful candlesticks.

1995: An unfortunate collection of Absolut ads.

Presently: Managing an wayward collection of half eaten pieces of cheese, containers of olives, and…to the point – BEGONIAS.

Begonias come in infinite varieties. They stand up incredibly well as city house plants (requiring relatively low light, rather infrequent waterings (a once-a-week soaking will suffice in a pot with good drainage), and they are undeniably gorgeous.

Propagating is easy – snip a large healthy leaf and place it in a sunny window in a cup of water. When significant roots show up (2-3 weeks) you can pot a new one.

As a floral designer with a penchant for simple adornment of a few key flowers – the leaves are indispensable. I like to clip stems from my plants and mix them into arrangements. Given as a gift to someone armed with this information, such a bouquet can foster a new begonia grower. Now go forth and propagate!!

Great sites for begonias:

CLICK HERE for the rest of Sarah’s post and more images of Begonia varieties after the jump!

{A rhizomatous begonia}

{a spiral rex begonia}

{Tiger Begonia}

{Various “painted leaf” begonias}

{a stem of lisianthus with a couple of “color vision” begonia leaves}

{“A cowardly lion” begonia}

{Leaves of a “snowmen spiral rex” mixed here with eucalyptus, spirea, eucalyptus pods and juniper}

{a petite arrangement of pepperberry, hydrangea, raspberries, ranunculus and an “angel wing” begonia}

{close-up of of the “snowmen” rex begonia}

  1. I loove begonias. That arrangement with the raspberries is so gorgeous. So happy to have you back, Sarah. I’ve missed your column.

  2. erin says:

    so glad to have sarah back!

  3. Lucy Canada says:

    Love the article, the way she talks about her past and present collections. The best part is the tip about begonias! I’m just going to start my own collection very soon! Thanks,

  4. Nmalone says:

    i still have the absolute ad collection

  5. sunescd says:

    I have had the worst luck with begonias…I love them and they die. Is there a particular amount of sunlight they need….so sad to lose them one after another

  6. sarah says:

    welcome back, you’ve been missed! also, those color vision leaves are gorgeous.

  7. liane says:

    absolut ads? oy. i had a great collection of posters. from prince and shaun cassidy. very eclectic. the candlesticks would have fit right in.

  8. sarah says:

    i’ve missed this column! (this makes me feel a bit better about my twig collection.)

  9. These picture are beautiful! I love the textures & colors. I kinda forgot about begonias. After looking at these I want to start collecting….

  10. Kaarina says:

    nice- that gave me a sigh of relief. the rain has been making me want to give up, but now i am back on track. thanks bunches.

  11. amanda says:

    I had no idea that the plants I had been admiring through my neighbor’s window were begonias! Awesome. Also, this post just made me realize I have a tiny pinecone collection.

  12. sk says:

    ha! That was my favorite game back in 1985, too! I’m from Florida though, so I was always telling my brother that a hurricane was coming and we needed to stockpile pecans and camellia blossoms.
    Also, I had those same Absolut ads.. hoooo, boy, it’s rough remembering the 90’s!

  13. Wow! I planted begonias in our window boxes this summer, but I had no idea there were so many varieties!

  14. Lloyd Traven says:

    Thanks for the Shout-out for Peace Tree!! We’re over 175 heirloom varieties (not rex, though, because they get mildew). Just wait until you see the new stuff coming to the website—pictures of ALL of them, and cultural info. Also check out Brad’s Begonia World website.

  15. Why do I always overlook begonias? So often I choose finicky, suicidal tropical jobbies that just end up disappointing me- I think it’s time to try begonias.

    Sarah, it’s good to have you back. My work weeks have really been dragging without your column!

  16. Well crud. Now I’m going to have to start too.

  17. Anjuli says:

    I think my mom still has my pink floppy binder full of carefully catalogued absolut ads. It was so awesome, I swear. At one time or another, I also collected different-sized dice, micro machines, cute-shaped erasers, and small ceramic animals. I am working on the plant collection now!

  18. Kristan says:

    I can’t tell you how much time and money was spent in middle school with my best friend scouring magazines for Absolut ads. And I absolutely love rex begonias, but they don’t love me. I keep trying, they keep dying.

  19. colleen says:

    I did not know that and….very funny as always. thank you!

  20. i love begonias but they are very difficult to cultivate.. i tried many times but i think that the climat here is not good for thes beautiful plants.

  21. shari says:

    great post sarah! these begonias are gorgeous.

  22. Norine says:

    I sure missed your posts!
    Now I NEED begonias and will immediately go and procure some.

  23. glad to see you back here sarah! we LOVE us some begonias at everything gardens too.

  24. Lisa says:

    And don’t forget lovely Logees.com! Their specialty is begonias, and they’ve been in business and owned and operated by the same family for over 100 years! LOVE them! Worth a trip, for sure, if you’re in Connecticut. Wear a bib, you’ll be drooling. Thanks for the great post.

  25. joshua buck says:

    hey sarah. did I ever tell you I filled 3 of my bedroom walls, top-to-bottom, with philadelphia eagles cards as a kid? maybe i should have kept that to myself…

  26. bornay says:

    I love the begonias too….the texture, the color…..ooohhhhh…

  27. I love the begonias too….the texture, the color…..ooohhhhh…


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.