Scientific: Begonia cucullata (common synonym Begonia semperflorens)
Common: wax begonia
Family: Begoniaceae
Origin: South American countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Invasive Alert: Naturalized in Florida and Hawaii.

Pronounciation: Be-GON-ee-a sem-per-FLOR-ens

Hardiness zones
Sunset
All (as annual or tender perennial depending on climate)
USDA 1-9 (annual), 10-11 (tender perennial)

Landscape Use: Depending on exposure and microclimate wax begonia is a tender annual to short-lived perennial garden herb in lower desert regions, entry ways, containers or hanging baskets for patios, indoor atriums with bright natural lighting. Best used in close approximation to human activity.

Form & Character: This is a short, clumping, herbaceous short-lived perennial with a formal appearance, neat and tidy, delicate, colorful, bright and cheerful.

Growth Habit: Slowly clumps and spreads. Height is generally under 18 inches.

Foliage/Texture: Cordate to orbicular succulent leaves, 1 to 2 inches in diameter with distinct palmate venation, green, bronze to deep wine red, adaxially surfaces have a thick cuticular wax layer, margins smooth and entire to crenate; medium texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Begonias have separate male and female flowers, which are borne on the same plant. Female flowers have a seed capsule below their petals, male flowers do not. Flowers are either single (fertile) or double (sterile), ranging in warm colors from white to red. Fruits have three wings.

Seasonal Color: Flowers nearly continuously.

Temperature: Tolerant of summer heat in a Phoenix mesic garden setting with an organic mulch; however, wax begonia is intolerant of temperatures below 32oF. The cardinal optimum temperature for wax begonia growth and culture is around 65o.

Light: In Phoenix, partial to full shade, intolerant of full sun locations.

Soil: Does best in low salinity, well drained soils heavily-amended with organic matter; ergo, rich garden soil conditions are best. Easily salt damaged.

Watering: Regular irrigations in desert areas especially during the Phoenix (cough...cough) 'warm' season.

Pruning: None

Propagation: Seed or short stem cuttings.

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Wax begonia is one of the most widely planted bedding plants in the western world. Deer resistant - important for you northern Arizona dwellers in Prescott and Flagstaff.

The genus Begonia is very diverse (over 900 species), is of great horticultural interest amongst collectors and breeders, and is widely cultivated around the world.

American Begonia Society