Facts About The Rieger Begonia
Just what is a Rieger begonia? You're no doubt familiar with tuberous begonias, as they are often sold in hanging baskets in the spring as they grow in both upright and trailing forms. Tuberous begonias, planted in the spring will bloom throughout the summer and into the fall. The bulbs, which go dormant in the winter months, can be saved until the next spring. Then there are the wax begonias, a subset of the fibrous begonia species. Wax begonia blossoms tend to be smaller than those of the tuberous begonias but are very prolific. Wax begonias are particularly well suited as bedding plants.
The Rieger - Which leaves us with the Rieger begonia. This begonia type is a hybrid, a cross between the tuberous begonia and the wax begonia. The Rieger begonia was developed by a German horticulturist of the same name. This particular begonia will bloom at any time of the year and makes a perfect winter indoor plant. This is one of those potted plants that are often thrown out after they stop blooming, in the notion that that's all there is, or simply because it can be quite a bit of work to get the plant to bloom again. If the spent blossoms are religiously picked off the plant, the Rieger begonia will often bloom for many months. As is the case with any begonia, some care needs to be taken when removing spent blooms, as the stems of the plant are quite brittle.
Likes Warmth But Not Heat - Although the Rieger begonia is hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11, it is not a true tropical plant. It does not like excessive heat and will not do well in climates that are both hot and humid. It prefers light shade to direct sun when planted out of doors. Temperatures in the mid-60's to around 70 are ideal for this plant which is one reason it makes such a popular plant for indoors, and obviously makes a very good container plant. Note however, if the plant is in a room or area where the temperature exceeds 70 degrees for a time, the flowers may start to drop, and if the temperature gets into the 90's or above, the plant may die. If you are in an area where the begonia can be grown outside, space plants about a foot apart and expect them to grow a foot to slightly over a foot in height.
A Variety Of Colors - This begonia's blossoms come in many different colors. The red blossoms are particularly stunning, but you can also select plants which have blossoms that are white, yellow, coral, orange, scarlet and various shades of pink and rose. Most owners of this begonia type are very pleased with the plant, and most treat it as an annual rather than going through the effort of trying to get a second bloom. Being a hybrid, the seeds of the Rieger begonia are either sterile or the resulting plants will not come true from seed. If you wish to propagate the plant however, propagating from herbaceous stem cuttings is the preferred approach. Propagation can be difficult however, and one suspects the German breeder of this begonia must have been a very patient person.
Pests, Disease, And Watering - The begonia is susceptible to the same diseases and pests as most any of the other begonia types. Mealy bugs, if left unchecked, can quickly destroy a plant, and white flies and aphids can be a problem at times as well. A quick check of the plant at watering time will usually be sufficient to nip any of these pests in the bud. This begonia does not need heavy watering; in fact excessive watering can kill it. It is more a matter of keeping the soil moist most of the time so the plant does not completely dry out. Some gardeners water the begonia by misting. If this is the method used, it should be done in the morning, and not in the late afternoon or evening. The main thing to watch out for is not to let the roots stand in water, so watering from the bottom, which works for many plants, may not be particularly good for this one.