This week’s plant of the week is Begonia ‘Switzerland’ – a fabulous dark-leaved variety with contrasting red blooms. It’s easy to grow and truly spectacular in a pot, providing months of vivid colour over summer.
The near-black, glossy foliage of Begonia ‘Switzerland’ is a spectacle on its own, providing a rich display from the start of the season. But the show really starts when the masses of vibrant red double blooms emerge in early summer.
Begonias are known for being easy to grow and reliable, and this variety is no exception. Once the flowers start, they don’t stop coming until autumn. Plant them in pots, tubs or hanging baskets and they’ll reward you with a magnificent display from early summer right through to the first frosts.
How to grow Begonia Switzerland
Begonias are grown from tubers and the best way to achieve a healthy, long-lasting display is to start them off in spring. They’re frost tender, so you’ll need a light, frost-free place to grow them on until they’re ready to go outside in late spring. A conservatory or greenhouse is ideal.
Your tubers will arrive at just the right time to plant them in spring. First of all, soak them in a bucket of water for a few hours to rehydrate them.
Prepare your containers by filling them almost to the top with a mixture of multipurpose compost plus a handful of slow-release fertiliser granules. Tap the container a few times to get rid of any air pockets. Make shallow indents (approximately 2cm deep) in the surface of the compost and position your tubers in the indents with the concave side facing upwards. Sprinkle a dusting of compost over the tubers until they are just covered, then thoroughly water them in.
Leave your begonias to grow in a bright, frost-free place, watering whenever the soil looks dry, until around late May when it’s safe to move the pots outside into their final positions.
Throughout summer, ensure you keep them well watered, watering every day on hot days so that they don’t dry out. You can encourage maximum flowering by feeding them once a fortnight with a liquid feed.
Enjoy your displays for as long as possible, but if you want to keep your begonias for next year it’s important to remove them from the garden before the first frosts. To store your begonia tubers, lift them out of the pots and shake off any excess soil and store them in a light, dry and frost-free place for winter.
Begonia Switzerland in brief
- Grown from tubers, plant in spring
- Flowers during summer and autumn
- Suitable for containers
- Height 40cm Spread 40cm
- Grows in any free-draining soil
- Thrives in full sun or partial shade
- Frost tender, store indoors for winter
- Attracts bees and butterflies