Thursday, September 4, 2008

Begonia evansiana grandis

What I hear most when people see these begonias in the garden is something to the effect that 'They aren't hardy, are they?" Well is you don't know these and live in a place not too far north of the northern edge of zone 6, these will be quite reliably hardy in your garden. I grow 2 different ones, the pink flowered and the white, though I have recently seen another advertized in catalogs and am not sure just what the difference is since it looks just like the pink one in the pictures. The pink flowered one is much more robust than the white one, but both are just lovely this time of year. They come up late, so be sure to mark where you put them. It is not at all uncommon for June to arrive before they make an appearance. Flowering is in late August and until frost when not all that many other things are still blooming. They like dappled shade best, but will grow in deeper shade or a place with morning sun. I just don't think they like to bake in the afternoon. The pink flowered one has wonderful deep red leaf backs that simply glow when the sun shines through them, especially this time of year when the late afternoon sun is so much lower.

The white flowered one ('Alba') has lighter green leaves, but both have flowers that look just like those you know from begonias you grow on the windowsill in the house. The pink flowered one will spread quicker and make a bigger patch, but both will spread by seed.
They seem to be readily available and a nice addition to the fall border. Not quite for the front since they can be 2 feet tall. One note, for the first time this year the deer have nibbled on some of mine, though only once and they've not come back. The deer seem to be very hungry due to over population (we have a doe with triplets this year), but some things are just not tasty enough to finish off. I'm always on the lookout for plants they don't like - like they enjoy my 'hosta salad'

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