Currently, enjoying a fabulous begonia display and wondering if you can expect the same thing again next year. Do begonias come back every year? Let’s find out.
Do Begonias Come Back Every Year?
The answer is both yes and no, it depends on the variety grown. There are perennial begonias that will come back every year and also other begonias which are grown as annuals.
Tuberous Begonias vs Rooted Begonias
This is where a lot of the confusion stems from. When treated with care, tuberous begonias can be overwintered and return the following spring more vigorous than ever. In contrast, the rooted cultivars tend to be only grown as annuals and will not survive their first frost.
You will most often find tuberous Begonias in fabulous hanging basket displays. Many of the spectacular trialling varieties of Begonia are tuberous.
This type of Begonia can be overwintered and come back the following spring. However, you cannot simply leave them in the ground and expect them to show up next spring.
Lift & Store
To overwinter the begonia tubers, you need to lift them out of the soil before the first frost. You will notice the leaves on these begonias starting to yellow near the end of their growing season.
As soon as you see this happening, you can begin to set your plans for lifting them out of the soil for winter.
Once lifted, I like to leave the tubers in a sunny spot indoors for a couple of weeks to really help them dry out. Any retained moisture may result in rotten tubers.
Once fully dry, store them over the entire winter in a cool, dark area. The only thing you need to be careful of is that they never get below 2-3 degrees Celcius.
You can treat these types of begonias as you would dahlias and their tubers.
Then come next spring, they will be ready to be carefully nursed back to life. We have a complete guide on how to start begonia tubers here.
Regular Rooted Begonias
The rooted form of Begonia is commonly grown as annual border flowers. These begonias do not form a tuber and are usually grown every year from seed.
These can survive winter and come back next year but it takes a lot of care. This coupled with the fact they are easy to grow from seed and also readily available in garden centres as a bedding plant means they are often not overwintered.
You can plant these outdoors as soon as the risk of frost has passed, and they will survive all summer long until the first autumnal frosts arrive. These are delicate plants and are very unlikely to survive a single frost. Hence most gardeners treat them as annuals.
Rooted Begonias can, however, survive the winter if they are brought indoors. This is not as simple as just bringing them inside at first sight of frost, however. If suddenly brought inside, the shock of the vastly changing conditions can have dire consequences for the plant’s health.
For this reason, you need to acclimatise them to indoor living. You can begin this process by initially only bringing them in overnight while leaving them outside during the day. Once you have been doing this for a few weeks, you are probably safe to bring them indoors full time.
When keeping these flowers over winter, it is crucial to reduce watering. This will keep them in a semi-dormant state over winter. You can then begin watering more frequently come spring to help promote growth.
Because keeping rooted begonias over winter is not the simplest of tasks, many gardeners grow them as annuals and then plant fresh plants come the spring.
Telling The Two Apart
What do you do if your begonias are already in the ground, planted by someone else and you want to know if they are perennial or annual?
Well there are a few tips I can show you to try and tell them apart. To start with annual begonias are normally quite compact, they have smaller leaves than tuberous begonias and also smaller flowers.
These are annual begonias above, one thing that quite often separates them is their leaves. They are quite small and waxy, they look almost rubber whereas a lot of perennial begonias don’t have this style of leaf.