Never mind the flowers, it’s the foliage that impresses when it comes to these amazing plants
It’s that time of year again: when the glossy pages of bedding plant catalogues land on your door mat, complete with page after page of massive double-flowered begonias in every Day-Glo shade possible. Indeed, these floriferous varieties are so popular that you might be forgiven for thinking that that’s all this genus has to offer for the bedding grower. But this could not be further from the truth. There are dozens of begonias available that, despite being mild-mannered in the flower department, are real showstoppers when it comes to leaves, in true Avatar shades of pink, red, silver, lime green, even deepest black.
With the genes of more than a thousand species as a potential choice of breeding stock, these plants are as diverse in terms of structure as they are colour, ranging from fuzzy-leaved midgets to towering, shrub-like stunners. While for some reason these are still generally thought of in the UK only as houseplants, most will grow just as well planted out for the summer and treated like any other bedding plant. As I only have a few words to play with here, I’d better stop waxing lyrical and get on to the plants.