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Begonia cucullata hybrid
Photo: Begonia cucullata hybrid


Begonia cucullata Willd.

Begonia hirtella Link

And countless additional species, hybrids, and cultivars

bah-GO-nee-ah cuck-you-LAY-tah and her-TELL-ah



Explanation of name: Genus commemorates Michel Begon. Cucullata means hooded, and hirtella refers to pubescence.

            Begonia is a genus of over 1000 species with multiple times that many hybrids and cultivars. Many of these are grown, mostly as container plants, in Florida.

            Popular as short-lived bedding plants, the “Semperflorens” or “Wax” or “Semperflorens-Cultorum” or “Fibrous-Rooted” Begonias are a massive complex of thousands of hybrids all having Begonia cucullata as one parent, with several additional species as the other parents. These hybrids tend to be grouped into “series,” among these (see TEB) are: the Cocktail, Devil, Dragon-Wing, Encore, Glamour, Inferno, Olympia, Party Mix, Prelude, Varsity, and Victory series.  The Dragon Wing Begonias have become very popular.  For a thorough discussion of their history see http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/begonia-dragonwings.aspx

            Begonia cucullata has escaped cultivation and become an invasive exotic (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category II) species in South Florida and elsewhere in the Southeastern U.S.

            Also weedy and escaped (apparently infrequently in Florida) is the annual species Begonia hirtella.

            Taxonomically, Begonia is divided into 66 sections. Dating back to 1903, in a system initially devised by Adolphe Van Den Heede (TEB), gardeners divide the genus into a still-evolving system of non-taxonomic horticultural groupings based on parentage, appearance, and visible attributes. Major categories listed currently by the American Begonia Society (on their website http://www.begonias.org/, Aug. 2007) are: Cane-Like, Shrub-Like, Rhizomatous, Semperflorens (including B. cucullata and B. hirtella), Tuberous, Rex, Trailing-Scandent, and Thick-Stemmed begonias. For ongoing publications on Begonia from a garden perspective, see The Begonian, and for a recent horticultural guide to garden begonias see STB or TEB.

            Begonia names in the South Florida trade (or natural areas) include the following:

‘Angel Wings’

‘Black Cauldron’

‘Black Velvet’


‘Bronze Leaf’


Begonia coccinea

Begonia cucullata (a weedy pest, see discussion)


‘Dragon Wing’ (heavily marketed, see above)

‘Dr. Birdsey’


‘Fountain of Youth’

Begonia heracleifolia (Starleaf Begonia)

Begonia hirtella (an annual species with weedy tendencies, escaped a little in Florida)

‘Negra Migra’ (cultivar of B. heracleifolia)

‘Joe Hayden’


‘Lois Burke’




Begonia nelumbiifolia (Lilypad Begonia)

‘Rubra’ (Cultivar of B. nelumbiifolia)

Begonia odorata

‘Alba’ (aka ‘White Angel’, this is a cultivar of B. odorata)

Party Series (see above)

‘Passing Storm’

‘Peanut Brittle’


Begonia popenoei

Begonia pustulata ‘Argentea’

Begonia reniformis

Begonia Xrex-cultorum ‘Rothchildiana’

Begonia ricinifolia

Begonia semperflorens-cultorum hybrids (see above)

Begonia siletensis

‘Sophie Cecile’


Begonia Xtuberhybrida (hybrid tuberous begonias)

‘Washington State’

‘Wild Pony’





FL Native

Growth Form

Flowering Season



Suggested Spacing

Cultural Conditions


Begonia cucullata hybrids = Begonia semperflorens-cultorum


Includes popular ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias

Wax Begonias


(B. cucullata FEPPC II)

Bedding Plants






(UF Circ. 449)

SU-in cooler months

(PS if heat-stressed)






(UF IFAS Circ. 449)



B. cucullata is FEPPC Cat. II

(The double-flowered selections are probably sterile)


Fungal problems



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