Gorgeous Gryphon Begonia

By Susan Littlefield

Plants that were once considered denizens of indoor windowsills are making a break and heading outside. A wide range of tender perennials are shedding their houseplant image and are being offered at garden stores for use as annuals in the outdoor garden.

A great choice for adding color and texture to beds or containers in shade to part shade is the new hybrid begonia 'Gryphon'. Named after a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, Begonia x hybrid 'Gryphon' is both eye-catching and durable. Its large, maple-like leaves are deep green splashed with silver and hints of purple. It's similar to a rex begonia, but more tolerant of dry soil and easier to grow.

This fast grower will eventually reach 10-24 inches tall and wide. While it can be planted out directly in the garden, it makes an especially dramatic statement in a container, either as a solo show or combined with other shade lovers. Imagine it combined with the bold colors of coleus or a silvery waterfall of 'Silver Falls' dichondra. And you can double your pleasure by bringing in your container before frost and returning it to an indoor windowsill for the winter.

'Gryphon' begonia is available as started plants at many garden stores. You can also grow it yourself from seed.

For more information on 'Gryphon' begonia, go to: National Garden Bureau. For an on-line seed source, visit: Summerhill Seeds.

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