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Beguiling Begonias

Begonia evansiana, (National Botanical Garden of Belgium).

Begonias are native to tropical and sub-tropical regions and are a diverse family of about 1500 species. They're beloved because of their textured, colorful foliage as well as their pretty flowers.

They have fleshy leaves and stems and grow from rhizomes, fibrous roots, or tubers. The foliage has a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors, and the species with shiny, wing-shaped, waxy leaves are popular as outdoor container or bedding annuals.

One variety-Dragon Wingâ„¢, with green leaves and pink or red flowers-is the result of a cross between the houseplant Angel's Wing and the annual wax begonias.

There is one type, Begonia grandis evansiana, is hardy in zones 6-10. It's a handsome two-foot tall plant with wing-shaped four-inch leaves that have red undersides. It grows from a tiny tuber and multiplies over time in part sun or shade. It produces pendulous clusters of pink flowers in August and September.

There are also those that flower in winter indoors such as the striking rex begonias that are grown for their spectacular foliage.

In my Midwest garden, I grow the perennial, and it beguiles me with its pink blooms in early fall every year.

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