There are many varieties of begonia, from perennial to tuberous, but my absolute favorite heat-tolerant variety of Begonia × hybrida is ‘Dragon Wing’. This beautiful hybrid from the Begoniaceae family is an introduction that blooms nonstop from May until October. Because it is a sterile hybrid, it does not self-seed and puts all its energy into flowering. Dragon Wing has exceptional tolerance for heat and humidity, performs well in deep shade areas, and has few disease problems. Dragon Wing leaves are elongated, pointy, and waxy with hints of bronze around the edges. When you see the begonia at the first of the season at the garden center they look ugly without flowers, but once planted, they quickly become the queen of the shade annuals. Below is an excerpt from the Illinois Getting Started Garden Guide which can help you get started with this gorgeous shade loving plant.
- Botanical name — Begonia x hybrida
- Bloom Period and Seasonal Color — Spring to fall; red and pink flowers
- Mature Height × Spread — 12 to 15 inches × 12 to 15 inches
- Added Benefits – Attracts Beneficial Insects, Attracts Hummingbirds
- Sun Requirements – Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Plant this flower in the spring after the last frost in a rich, well-drained soil with compost or manure mixed in for better root development. This is a compact plant that forms dense mounds, so be sure to give it plenty of room to grow. While the plant will do well in part sun, it really prefers part shade or shade. Make sure the plant gets afternoon shade if it is in sunnier conditions.
Dragon Wing likes an organic fertilizer once every four weeks. Dragon Wing prefers moisture but will tolerate short periods of drought. Dragon Wing can be overwintered indoors by cutting the plant back, placing in a low light area, and reducing water to hibernate. Should you want to enjoy the blooms indoors, bring the plant in and place in a container with exposure to a brightly lit area. Begonias enjoy moisture, so misting the plant as well as watering regularly will be critical for the plant’s survival.
Advice and Care
Deadheading is not needed for this flower; however, trimming overgrowth or leaning stems will not harm the plant. There are no serious insect or disease problems. Over watering in shady conditions can sometimes encourage powdery mildew or blight. These fungus issues can be treated with an organic fungicide.
Companion Planting and Design
Since Dragon Wing does so well in shade, I prefer to partner it with colorful shade companions like sweet potato vine and coleus. Ornamental edibles such as lacinato kale and Swiss chard make wonderful container companions as well. Dragon Wing looks amazing planted en masse beneath shade trees.
If you would like more ideas on how to grow all types of plants, particularly in the Midwest, please resource the Illinois Getting Started Garden Guide in order to understand more about the growth needs of various plants for your garden.