Shade Begonia Hanging Basket Care
Before speaking specifically about Begonia hanging baskets, let’s talk about the environment Begonias prefer. Begonias – like Nonstop, Illumination, and Bossa Nova – like to grow in sheltered shady areas; so a full north, northwest and a north northwest location is best. Begonias need a sheltered area because are a bit fragile and will get damaged or break in a windy area.
We will do a quick review of general hanging basket care using the acronym C-A-R-E and then we’ll take a detailed look at Begonia hanging baskets specifically.
- This is about keeping a watchful eye on your hanging basket.
- Each day, do a general top to bottom overall check of your hanging basket – inspect leaf & flower health: any curling, wilting, spotted or yellowing leaves, and old or deformed flowers. Turn the leaves over to look underneath for bugs, they love hiding there.
- Begonias are quite hardy plants when they are in the proper location. You see problems arise when they are growing in areas that stress them (like in the sun).
- One thing to be very diligent about is to check for stem rot. If Begonias are kept too wet, their stems will rot at the soil level. You can tell this by a yellowish-brown color where the soil and stem touch. It will also be slimy at this area. Yuck!
- This is all about watering.
- A good way to check hanging baskets for adequate hydration is to feel how heavy they are, lift them by pushing up on the bottom of the pot as they are hanging and check the weight. As you get more familiar with how heavy a fully watered hanging basket is, you will be able to tell when it’s time to water. If you happened to put your begonia basket in an upright container, you can dip your index finger deeply into the soil. If the soil is dry at about 1.5 inches, it’s time for a drink of water. Water thoroughly so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot – that’s how you know you have watered effectively and that all the roots are bathed in a fresh drink of water. If you don’t let water flow out, salts from the fertilizer will accumulate causing the leaves and flowers to burn.
- Begonias die most often from overwatering. Because Begonias grow in the shade, their need for water is significantly lower than hanging baskets growing in the sun. Classically a Begonia doesn’t need to be watered any more often than once every 5 to 10 days – it sounds kind of crazy, but they easily last that long. Be very sure to check the soil moisture or basket weight before you water.
- Water gently and thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom as described above.
- This step is about fertilizing.
- Replenishing nutrients is important for containers and hanging baskets because there is a finite amount of nutrients held within the container soil and when water drips out of the pots, some of those nutrients are lost. We recommend fertilizing weekly. Pick a regular day of the week, and make that your fertilizing day – make it an alarm on your phone. Our favorite fertilizer is called ‘Nature’s Best’. It is a natural fertilizer and we have found it to be easy to use, gentle on plants with no burning and we think it makes flowers brighter. ‘Miracle Grow’ is another good choice and other balanced fertilizers like 20-20-20 work well.
- As a general guideline, fertilize Begonia hanging baskets weekly. If you are watering weekly or every 10 days, fertilize at that time. There is no need to fertilize more often.
- This is a maintenance step.
- Plant growth is encouraged by taking off old flowers, known as deadheading, removing dead leaves, and pinching straggly, leggy plants back. Taking off old flowers is important because the ultimate purpose of flowers to produce seeds for reproduction. By taking off those dead flowers, the plant continues to flower. Old wilted and curled leaves actually take energy from the plant in an attempt to repair itself but if they are removed, the plant can continue to focus its efforts on flowering. Plants can also get long and straggly looking – it’s ok to literally give them a haircut with scissors – it will make them branch, become bushy and thrive.
- Deadheaded Begonias as flowers begin to dry. Pinch out old flowers and seed pods by following the flower stem back to where it intersects with the larger stem and pinch it back at that point.
- If the Begonias are getting long and gangly, pinch them back to keep them compact and to stimulate fresh growth.
- If the Begonia basket is mixed with other stuffers and vines, some of the trailing flowers may need to be deadheaded as well. If they get long, you can always cut them back with scissors to keep them stocky and strong, and to stimulate fresh growth.
Enjoy these baskets, they have tremendous color power and perform wonderfully with a little routine care.