Zones: 10 to 11
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Soil Type: Well drained soil
Soil pH: 6.1 to 7.5
Sunlight: Partial shade to sun
Watering: Light watering
Fertilizer: Water-soluble, quick-release fertilzer
Availability: Sold as live, potted plants. Look for healthy, compact plants free of blooms.
When to plant: Merry Christmas Begonia is a perennial and can be planted in either the spring or fall, though it prefers spring planting, since it likes humidity and does not like the cold. While not drought tolerant, it does not like a lot of watering.
If you are going to use the Merry Christmas Begonia as an outdoor shrub, make the planting hole twice the size of the root ball. It should be deep enough to cover the plant just a tad higher than the soil line on the plant in the pot. This plant likes peat, so amend the soil with peat and fill the hole with the amended soil. If the plant came wrapped in burlap and the burlap is natural, you can just undo the burlap at the top of the plant and place the plant, burlap and all, into the hole. Fold the top of the burlap down so that it gets completely buried. Water the plant well from the bottom. Try not to splash a lot of water on the leaves.
If you going to plant the Merry Christmas Begonia in a container, make sure the container is big enough to allow for two years of root growth. Use a container with drainage holes, as this plant needs to be watered from the bottom. Once transplanted into a larger pot, water well from the bottom of the pot.
Water every 10 to 14 days. Use tepid, room-temperature tap water, as this plant does not like cold water, which tends to shock the roots. Pour the water in the water-catch bowl under the planter. After 15 minutes, pour any excess water out, as sitting water tends to attract pests and disease.
Fertilize once every 14 days with a water-soluble, quick release fertilizer. You may also use an organic fertilizer, though it is not recommended for this plant. If you do use an organic fertilizer, be sure to follow the instructions on the package, as different organic fertilizers have different ingredients and strengths. Fertilizers should have a good combination of nitrogen and potassium for the best flowering and foliage growth.
Merry Christmas Begonia grows large, bright-red leaves with green borders and showy pink flowers. The red color deepens toward the center of the leaf.
Prune Merry Christmas Begonia by pinching the stem tips of the plant. Pinching the stem tips will encourage the plant to bush out, which is perfect for container plants. If the plant is being used as a shrub or outdoor landscaping, prune for dead and decaying wood in the spring and throughout the growing season as needed.
This begonia reproduces through creeping rhizomes that produce babies. Babies can be cut and planted in soil amended with peat. Once the plant is established, it can be transplanted to a larger container.
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