Sunday, April 10, 2011

Begonia rex-cultorum ... Rex Begonias

I have a small collection of Rex Begonias, commonly known as the Painted Leaf Begonia, and they hold a special place in this gardener's heart.  I have my little potted collection sitting on a shelf just outside one of my kitchen windows.  This shelf is part of the Shadehouse Garden which runs down that side of my house and they simply love this spot.  I love that I see them every time I walk into my kitchen and they really are a wonderful sight!

They have the most fabulous showy foliage and this is what attracted me to these plants from the beginning ...

but I also adore their pretty little pink flowers.  Now admittedly the flowers do get rather lost amongst the myriad of colours and patterns in the leaves of the Rex, but they do deserve some recognition for their beauty as well.

I know these plants have a reputation in many parts of the world as being high maintenance and difficult to grow.  In my part of the world ... the northern tropics of Australia ... I find them to be a plant that's easy to maintain.  Of course, the reason my Rexs thrive so beautifully in their spot out in the Shadehouse Garden is because the conditions there suit them to a tee!

Whilst the Shadehouse is outdoors and open to the elements, only being covered with shadecloth, the Rexs are protected from heavy rain as they are located on a shelf that sits under the eaves of the house.

It's important to protect Rex Begonias from our 'wet' season as they really don't thrive in wet conditions.  Over-watering is their number one killer.  I always allow the soil to dry out in between watering.

Like most Begonias, they store moisture in their stems and are rather succulent-like in that regard, so they are terrific water-wise plants and can survive extended dry periods.  This is feature that makes them a perfect addition to my dry tropics garden.

Rex Begonias love humidity ... and we have that in abundant supply all year round here in the tropics.  Humidity levels rarely ever drop below 50% here ... and there are days when it hits 100%.  The Rexs love it! 

They are best kept in bright light, but not full sun.  The shadecloth that covers the Shadehouse garden offers protection from the harsh direct tropical sunshine by diffusing the light and blocking out 70% of the tropical sun's harmful UV rays.  The Rexs enjoy these dappled light conditions.

Apologies I do not know any of the cultivar names for my Rex Begonias.  I bought all mine from nurseries around here and they were simply labelled as 'Rex Begonias'!  Since the nurseries here in my corner of Oz are not exactly stocked to the rafters with Rexs, my collection remains quite small but I'm forever on the lookout for other hybrids.

Here in the tropics, the Rex Begonias are evergreen plants, so I can enjoy their beauty all year round.

Have a look at loads of other beautiful flowers at the Today's Flowers meme.


  1. They are lovely; I have been looking out for one for ages just cannot seem to find any here.
    Lovely colours and delicate flowers.

  2. Wow Bernie ~ No wonder they have a special place in your heart, they are gorgeous.


  3. Bernie, you have a grand collection! They look very contented under your care :) I have never seen some of the leaf color combination that you have. They are beautiful. Cheers, Jenni

  4. You most certainly have discovered the perfect growing conditions for them. They are so beautiful. When I see them in a nursery they tempt me but I have lost count of the number I've killed over the years. I'm a slow learner.

  5. Your rex begonias are so colourful! I have never seen them in nurseries here, but have one given to me by a friend and it has since mulitplied so they must like it under the tree. They are in pots and seem quite happy. I must keep looking for more varieties as they do seem to like this climate.

  6. HI Sue. Rexs are hard to find in nurseries here too. This little collection has taken me over 6 years to put together. I'm like a prowler at the nurseries now ... always popping in to see if I can spot one! Heaven help any other shopper who gets in my way if I do find a different variety!

    Flowerlady ... everything about them is just great. I really enjoy looking after them.

    Jenni ... it's great when I find a new variety here. It's like finding treasure.

    Missy ... it's just the right spot for them. I never had much luck with them in any of my other gardens, but in this spot they flourish.

    Gillian ... mine are all in pots at the moment and they just love being contained. I have some little ones though that I'm thinking of planting under one of my Cycads out in the courtyard garden. Fingers crossed they take off as it would make a great little display.

  7. Your beautiful begonias remind me of the begonias I have. I wish I could grow them as wonderful as yours! I love that little patch (small collection) of rex begonias you have there. Their foliages are lovely. I am sure you will not grow tired of them. Have a great week Bernie!

  8. Hi Bernie ~ just had to pop back and tell you I FOUND ONE!!!! ( I'm jumping up and down with joy)

  9. Hello. Your beautiful begonias are not decorated with flowers, but leaves. Great is shown on the pictures. Yours

  10. What interesting leaves, and delicate flowers!! Beautiful collection you have. Thanks for stopping by my blog, yours seems to load well for me now so I will add you to my blogroll. :)

  11. Oh, I love your begonia collection! I also have a small collection of begonias, but among them, only one is rex begonia,and I think it is the same as the one at the right in your second picture. The foliage of your rex is really nice and unique. I am also on the watch for different types of begonia. I wish I can have more shady space to accomadate more.

  12. Hi, I'm your newest follower. I adore the leaves on these and they would be perfect for our outdoor area, I'm going to keep an eye out for them now! I was an avid gardener in our previous house, 5 years ago, but haven't had a chance to get to the garden here until now ... and now I'm really itching to get back into it. I look forward to reading through your lovely blog.

    Cheers, Suzy

  13. You have a great collection of lush beautiful begonias

  14. I have two rexes. I found them among hundreds and hundreds of other plants here at our local Lowes. At first I thought they were going the way of the ones I've had in the past, but I read all I could find on their care and changed my methods. The secret I believe is to water seldom and sparingly and to set the pots on a stone filled tray of water. Mine have quadrupled in size in about a year. Patricia in SC, USA


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