The Rex Begonias

BEG-mainWe’ve seen steady sales growth of Rex Begonias over the past four years so we’ve decided to expand our program. Unlike other begonias, the Rex Begonia is sold primarily on the strength of its foliage. The leaves have a painted quality to them, and some cultivars feature interesting textures or irregular leaf margins as well. Many put on a showy display with big leaves up to six inches—plus they flourish in shade!

Foliage plants offer great value to landscapers because the color interest never goes away. Rex Begonias deliver color and style with a flourish. When you walk into a professional building—to visit the doctor, for example—huge urns filled with plants often flank the entranceway. Many times those decorative containers are tucked in close to the building where a shadow is cast for most of the day—enter the Rex Begonia, because shade is where it thrives.

Entryway containers are up-close color. People walk past within inches of them, so the drama, texture and interest that Rex Begonia brings to the table are well served. Remember: the client probably walks past those containers every day as well.

Rex Begonias are great display plants for decorative pots in retail garden centers. Landscapers will find they work well in extra-large containers or raised gardens, either tucked up close to a building or sitting below the rain guard that protects the front entrance and walkways—a common sight in many hotels.

Interested in working with Rex Begonias? Read ahead for our full line-up for 2014. Unless noted otherwise, all these cultivars grow to about the same height—9 inches, give or take an inch. We favor a broad canvas so they all display their patterns on large leaves:


‘Escargot’: High-contrast whorls that resemble snails are displayed on large leaves that curl in on themselves. It’s probably the most distinctive and famous Rex—an effective mixer for extra large containers.


‘Etna’: Black leaves with deep red spots. We like the scalloped edging along the leaf margin.


‘Fedor’: Green leaf with dark tiarella-style markings along the veining. A Dutch hybrid.


‘Flamenco’: One of the few Rex Begonias with an interesting bloom. We’d describe it as a white flower heavily sprayed with spots of red—the margins are always tinted red. Little blooms cluster together to form larger balls of color on the plant. It grows a little taller and wider, about 18 inches.


‘Mambo Dark’: A very dark green, sometimes nearly black leaf. It curls in on itself like ‘Escargot’ so it has a very ruffled appearance.


‘Red Bull’: Bright shiny red with a dark red margin that varies from plant to plant. 


‘Red Kiss’: Similar to ‘Red Bull’, except ‘Red Kiss’ has a dark heart that matches its margins.


‘Red Tango’: Probably the most complex leaf pattern we sell. Heart-shaped leaves sport four colors: dark red dominates the center, surrounded by a lighter, brighter red; this, in turn, is surrounded by green and white variegation with a tinge of red reappearing in the margins.


‘Salsa’: Not to be outdone, it’s a bit complex as well. Stripes, stains and polka dots in silver, red, black and green make for a spicy combination—served up on a smaller, slimmer serrated leaf. 


‘Spitfire’: This variety has a torn-leaf look that the others don’t have. A heart of red is surrounded by a creamy green margin also flecked with red.

We are growing our Rex Begonias in 4.5-inch pots. They will be available in late April and throughout May.