begonia rex and flowers: a love story


It’s that time of year again — you know, loooove time. And while I think my all-time favorite Valentine’s Day came in the form of Chinese takeout circa 2003, that doesn’t mean I abstain completely. Chocolates in some weird box with a fake flower on top? Sure, why not. Obligatory box of conversation hearts? Don’t mind if I do. Two dozen long-stemmed roses with a heart-shaped Mylar balloon attached? Ehh, basically, no way in hell.

If the years have proved anything, it’s a rare man who can pull off gorgeous flowers on Valentine’s Day. It takes all sorts of research and awkward phone calls, not to mention forking over major money. So instead of relying on our men (or lack thereof), I suggest we all run out and grab a handful of flowers and a few begonia plants to make something stunning for yourself, your boyfriend, your bestie or your hot UPS guy. I’m going the UPS guy route.

Begonia rex foliage is the bee’s knees in flower arrangements. Beautiful, streaking magenta, burgundy, teal, silver and blacks — there really is nothing else that can pack so much punch sitting next to a flower. Not only is it gorgeous, but after the flowers die, you can root your begonia cutting to make a new houseplant. Win!

Your town’s fancy nursery should have a few potted varieties, but this website has an exhaustive selection if you’re not able to find some locally. Because begonia stems are likely to be short, it’s important to keep your vase small; the above is a salt shaker with the top screwed off. Just put two leaves in to make a base that will set off your flowers. — Amy M.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Amy’s post and her tips for creating this arrangement after the jump!

You can add in only one type of flower if you want something sweet and simple; I used two stems of hellebore, but really any flower with a pretty face would work. To keep your mini-arrangement looking natural, it’s nice to cut one stem so the flower’s head is resting just at the vase’s neck, and cut the other a bit taller so the flowers seem to be growing upward.

Another vase favorite around here is abandoned sugar bowls and creamers from tea sets of yore. Because their necks are a bit wide, it’s easier to work with them if you cut a small square of chicken wire and ball it up inside to create a web to hold the stems.

Your begonia leaves go in first to help determine the placement of your larger flowers.

Turning your arrangement as you go, tuck your flowers into your chicken wire to secure them. I used Yves Piaget roses, purple tulips, variegated carnations and a stem or so of black hellebore for contrast. The roses have the most insanely beautiful old-rose fragrance — you would not even believe it. A possible aphrodisiac? For a romantic girl, no doubt, and also less slimy than oysters.

Add in one stem of dendrobium orchid ($4), one stem of hellebore ($3) and two stems of ranunculus ($3 each). To get more mileage out of the orchid, cut the long stem in half to make two usable pieces.

For under $15, you have something that will beat the living daylights out of a bunch of corner-store red roses. Women will weep. Girls will swoon. Boys will, umm, be boys but that doesn’t mean they won’t like the flowers or think you’re not crazy special, wonderful and quite the catch. Because you totally are a catch, and I hope this Valentine’s Day, flowers or no, you feel like one.

With love from your not-so-secret admirer, Amy M.


You made begonias into beauties I never thought they were. Simply too gorgeous for words. And yes, hands down, the flowers are the sexiest gift a girl can receive. xoxoxo


This was such an adorable post. And those flowers are GORGEOUS.


Another gorgeous post Amy! I love the look of smaller arrangements, with greater variety (and the begonia leaves set them all off so beautifully!). I also love that antique postcards found their way into your Valentine’s Day themed post.


gorgeousness!! loving the salt shaker and creamer as vases too! that Amy M, she’s brilliant!


Oh, swoon I have, my dear!! I adore every darling design in this post! And those begonia leaves really are the bees knees…note to self: buy more begonias. XOXO


These are all so lush and beautiful. Thank you for the excellent post!

Where are the best places to try to seek out really beautiful individual stems like you have above? Is it best to try small creative flower shops? Are they willing to give up one or two individual stems?

Toni Marie

Just lovely Miss Amy! I completely agree about the standard red roses and mylar balloons. I’d much rather have a fancy little arrangement like yours or a pretty houseplant wrapped in burlap with a homemade card. And thanks for sharing the source of those awesome rex begonia varieties!

judith b.

In words and flowers, another lovely Amy post. Look out UPS – there is something steamy going on here!


that last little glass vase looks like a dead horse bay find :) and that reminds me of summer which makes me happy! the orchids are beyond beyond

keep up the good work!


Amy, you are such a sweetheart.
I must confess I’m a not-so-secret admirer of you, my dear! Beautiful colors, Great tips, Lovely post!


Gorgeous blog and photo’s, great tips and lovely to see something other than red roses for Valentines, keep up the good work!


The first valentines that my partner and I were together I went to a florist and asked for the manliest flowers she could manage. She gave me anthiriums :P Since then, I’ve gotten him some of those every couple of years. And they were in my wedding bouquet.


very dreamy, and thank you for showing the wire inside I always wonder how to get them to look that good.


I’ve been desperate to think of a floral arrangement to send my husband on our first ‘big V-Day’ and they all seem too ‘girley’ thank you for the post that offers ‘manly’ flowers he won’t get teased about! (and ones that i get to keep as houseplants! mwhahaha)


Begonia Rex rocks. I cut all the leaves off and it gives me 50 more. They do love water, but it is so worth the care. I have turned my bathroom into a mini greenhouse filled with these and orchids, beautiful combo.

Debbie Doodles

Beautiful. Love the sugar bowl and chicken wire! What a great new way (to me anyway) to hold flowers in position. Thanks!
Totally share your sentiments on roses with mylar balloons. NO WAY!