Take a Sunset Cruz

By Susan Littlefield

If you are looking for a ″knock-your-socks-off″ plant for a container or hanging basket this summer, look no further than the arching form and dangling, fiery orange bells of Begonia boliviensis. This tuberous begonia is a South American native and, unlike many in the Begonia clan, thrives in full sun, although it will tolerate part shade as well. The variety Bonfire, with abundant, red-orange flowers and angel-wing shaped leaves edged in red, has become a popular addition to container gardens.

Now two new cultivars have arrived on the scene for 2012. Begonia boliviensis 'Santa Cruz Sunset' (pictured), bred by Ernst Benary of America, Inc., is a super heat-tolerant selection. It branches well to form a mound of dark green leaves that are covered from spring until frost with vibrant red-orange blossoms. Like all B. boliviensis plants, it needs well-drained soil and once established is moderately drought tolerant.

B. boliviensis 'Amour', another new offering from Ball Horticultural, is the most vigorous trailing begonia on the market. This is the one to choose to make a dramatic statement in a large container or hanging basket. This red flowered begonia will do best in partial shade and with regular fertilization to fuel its abundant flower production.

Although often grown as annuals, these begonias are tender perennials that can be overwintered indoors. Because they set their flower buds in response to the long days of summer, they won't bloom over the winter. But you can still enjoy their attractive foliage.

To find out more about these new begonias, go to: National Garden Bureau.

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