A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Plant of the Week: Begonia grandis ‘Alba’ (Hardy Begonia cultivar)

Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.

Most begonias need the protection of a greenhouse for the winter, but Begonia grandis, a species from East Asia, is a hardy exception and it will survive outside throughout the year. Unsurprisingly, it is called the hardy begonia.the-plant

Winter frosts will kill the foliage to the ground, but the tuberous roots remain unharmed and new growth will emerge in late spring. The upper surface of the leaf is a light green but the underside is tinged with pink and crosshatched with red veins. When backlit by speckled sunlight, the effect is like stained glass.underside-of-leavesunderside-of-leaves-2

Typical begonia flowers appear in late summer of early fall. Those of the original species, Begonia grandis, are deep pink, but the cultivar ‘Alba’ has blooms of the palest pink, almost a pure white.close-up

Both can be found under the shade of the pearlbush (Exochorda racemosa) in the southwest corner of the Wild Garden.the-setting

2 thoughts on “Plant of the Week: Begonia grandis ‘Alba’ (Hardy Begonia cultivar)

  1. I was introduced to Begonia grandis at Wave Hill probably 30 years ago and have grown them ever since in assorted gardens. I find ‘Alba’ is not quite as robust but very beautiful. Happy in dry or average soil, in partial sun or shade. Have even used them as cut flowers and they do well for several days if not too advanced. Thanks for the introduction Wave Hill!

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