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Overwintering Begonias

Some Begonias go dormant for the winter and others have no dormant period and continue to grow and flower for the entire winter.

Contributors: Dr. Rick Schoellhorn

As fall approaches many gardeners want to bring their flowers indoors to keep enjoying them into the fall and winter months. Begonias are often a problem for many people because Begonias differ so much in the way they grow. Some Begonias go dormant for the winter and others have no dormant period and continue to grow and flower for the entire winter. Knowing which Begonia your have can help a lot of having success with bringing the plants indoors for the winter.

Some basics:

When bringing plants indoors from an outdoor garden area there are some basic do’s and don’ts to consider. The first priority is to make sure your plants are free of insects or disease before bringing them in for the winter. Indoor conditions are very stressful to most plants and when plants are stressed they are more susceptible to insects and diseases. So before you bring plants in for the winter you may want to give them a good looking over, it will save you problems later in the winter when you may not want to use chemicals indoors.

Indoor conditions are generally lower light than outdoors, so plants will have to adjust to lower light levels, sometimes they can do this easily and sometimes they must drop their outdoor leaves and grow new leaves that are better adapted to interior conditions. Plan for some leaf drop until plants become established again. All Begonias need bright filtered light when brought indoors and can sometimes be grown in full sun, but be careful not to burn plants by exposing them to bright sun if they were grown in the shade previously.

The inside of your house is also very dry due to your heating system which removes water from the air as it heats the air in your house. You can make life a lot easier for your plants if you provide a source of humidity. Many people mist their indoor plants and while this helps it only lasts for a short period. A better long term solution is the use of a pebble tray under your plants where water can be added as it evaporates to keep the humidity higher around your indoor flowers. A pebble tray is simply a container that holds water filled with pebbles so that your plants sit on the pebbles and not in the water itself, water evaporates around the plant a creates a small “greenhouse” effect.

Begonia types:

Begonias are incredibly diverse, so knowing what type of Begonia you have makes it a lot easier to succeed in over wintering them. Also many people confuse the Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) with a true Begonia, it is not related at all but does make a nice houseplant in bright windows through the winter.

Rhizomatous Begonias

This group is the easiest to maintain indoors and make wonderful house plants in a bright filtered light setting. The way to tell if you have a rhizomatous begonia is to look for the rhizome or thick stem creeping along the surface of the soil. Begonias in this group like to be kept lightly moist and lightly fertilized all winter and do not go dormant, so never dry them out entirely. Most are winter flowering and can provide not only beautiful foliage but also sprays of white to pink flowers in late winter. Examples of these Begonias include: Black Coffee, Last Laugh, Palomar Prince, and River Nile.

Cane type & bedding begonias

These two groups look very different but are both easy to keep over the winter. The Cane types include Angel Wing Begonias and also the Dragon wing types. These need very bright light to look their best, but not scorching sun. Keep lightly moist and lightly fertilized through the winter months. They never go dormant, so do not allow them to become very dry. Examples of Cane and Fibrous begonias include: Sinbad, Dragon Wing, Gum Drops, Buttered Popcorn, Maribel, Benigo, Burning Bush, Angel Wing, and all the bedding types usually sold for the landscape.


Rex Begonia

Rex Begonias are a bit more of a challenge for indoor growing, but with a high humidity level can be gorgeous indoors with bright filtered light. These plants like constant moderate moisture, high humidity, and regular fertilization. They do not go dormant, so never allow them to dry out, they are very sensitive to dry roots and quickly decline if not cared for. However their electrifying foliage makes them one of the most desirable plants for both containers outdoors and inside. If you can grow African violets, you can grow Rex Begonias, so give them a try. Examples of the Rex Begonias include: The Great American City Series, Fire Flush, Capricorn, Taurus, and Fairy.

Tuberous & Tuberous types of Begonias including B. boliviensis

OK, if you have succeeded with other Begonias here is your final exam. The tuberous Begonia group REQUIRES winter dormancy. This means you need to begin in fall by reducing the water to the plants until the tops have died back and the soil is completely dry. Once the plant has gone completely dormant most gardeners remove the tuber from the soil. The tuber is usually found where the stems meet the ground. Carefully clean off the tuber of soil and old roots and store in a warm dry location over the winter.  Some gardeners swear by a fungicide powder to control diseases on the dormant tuber, this can be applied before storing the tubers.

In early spring the tubers may be replanted in fresh soil and given a head start on the season in a bright windowsill where they do not become chilled. The tuber should be planted so that the upper surface is at the surface of the soil, no deeper. When planting the tubers, water them well with a light fertilizer and do not water again until either the soil dries or you begin to see new stems emerging from the soil. Most gardeners start their tubers in small pots 4”-5” this way they can be transplanted into larger pot later but they do not become too wet during the crucial period where they waking up and beginning to grow.

New growth means your tubers are beginning to grow new roots and need to given fertilizer and water on a regular basis. Never allow tuberous begonias to become soggy, they are very sensitive to root rot if they stay too moist. Examples of Tuberous type Begonias include the following: Illumination, Non-Stop, On Top, Ornament, Panorama, Pin Ups, and Charisma series.

As with all garden plants brought indoors for the winter, you may have good luck and you may not. Remember that if all of this seems like too much work you can simply buy new plants in spring and start clean. Also Begonias can be prone to a variety of bacterial and fungal problems, especially under indoor conditions, so if you see problems of this type showing up during the winter, contact your local garden center for advice on how to control any problems.

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Wed, 04/12/2017 - 8:54pm


I overwintered my 4, 10" pot, hanging basket Dragon Wing Begonias and it went well. Now, it is time to acclimate them outside.


Last year, my nursery told me to cut the plant into 2 plants and plant both of them. Now, today, the same person at the nursery told me something completely different. She said to cut the bottom "dome" of the root ball off. Then, cut the sides off the root ball to make it a square. Then, put the plant back in its pot and add new soil to fil in the cut off areas.

Surely, the plant has to be root bound after being in the same pot for an entire year. And, I cannot go to a larger pot. So, what steps do you recommend I do now to ready my plants for the upcoming year?

Thank you,

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Sat, 02/04/2017 - 11:45am

I have brought my begonias in for the winter and most of them have died off. Now some of the survivors have white dusty spots on the leaves. The new leaves look shiny and healthy but this whatever it is is spreading. Is thee hope? Or should I ditch all the planters, the plants and the dirt. The crop has been decimated with maybe only 10% still alive. They are in a spot with indirect lighting in my kitchen bordering on the deck.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 02/06/2017 - 1:46pm

Hi there!
OK so I believe your problem here is powdery mildew, many Begonias can get it and especially under indoor conditions. Your best treatment is to apply a fungicide that specifically controls powdery mildew. Something like this product: which is natural might work.

IF the begonias you are talking about are the types with very large rose-like flowers (called Tuberous Begonias) this might get you through until spring. Most tuberous begonias should be allowed to dry out entirely as fall turns to winter, and then you can store the tubers in a cool dry place, like a garage or unheated closet, and then replant the tubers again in spring. This is a lot simpler and easier than trying to keep them alive and growing all winter.

I hope this helps! Yell if you have more questions!

Kimchi's picture
Kimchi Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:40am

I bought a small Maple-leaf Begonia in the store a couple of months ago and keep it at work. Its in a bright area but not direct sunlight. Lately its been losing leaves and stems almost everyday. I keep the soil moist so Im not sure if its going into hibernation or if it is a bad plant. I don't want to throw in the towel with it just yet but Im not sure what Im doing wrong. Ive never owned a Begonia. My profile pic is what the poor little guy looks like right now.

Please help!


First time Begonia parent

Cindy Meyers's picture
Cindy Meyers Mon, 12/12/2016 - 10:39am

Here is a link for more information on caring for your Maple-leaf Begonia that you may find helpful:

Good luck!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Wed, 10/05/2016 - 6:33am

I would encourage you to really back off of the watering, most begonias will actually do much better with a drier soil base that drains well. The foliage and the stems are great moisture reservoirs which allow the plant to survive and grow with the need for constant irrigation. What I would encourage is slowly back down your watering regime until the soil is moderately dry, new foliage should start to sprout, and then start a new with a mild water soluble fertilizer and a thorough watering. It is far better to water thoroughly but less often. Hope this helps, and enjoy your begonia parenting.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:22am

I bought this begonia at the store in August, it stays at work in a bright area but not direct sunlight. As of late it has been falling apart. I keep the soil moist but every day I come in and a bunch of leafs and stems fall off it. I never saw it with flowers but thought it would come through in the fall. Now Im worried about the poor little guy and don't know whether to throw in the towel or give it a fighting chance.

Please help

P.S. I want to post a picture of it but I don't know how

crawford1181's picture
crawford1181 Tue, 09/13/2016 - 11:38am

I have two very large 3 year old Gryphons that I bring in for the winter. They are now about 5 feet high and getting very "leggy". the stems are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and foliage is only on the tops of the stems. Can I cut them back to generate new growth from the base of the plant?

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Mon, 10/03/2016 - 4:11pm

Yes, you should be able to cut them back - leave any shorter new leaves or those at the base of the plant to leaf back out would be best.  Higher light usually helps to keep the plant less leggy.


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 05/30/2016 - 10:04am

I have a "flip side" question. I have two gryphon begonia that did great in the summer in the same spot they're in now, and continued to produce foliage indoors (a little leggier) over the winter. I just moved them outdoors and, unfortunately, left them in hot temp and about 4-5 hours of direct sun for the whole day. Now several top leaves are flopped over and damaged. There was a heavy rain last night but no leaves look torn by the rain. I assume I should have gradually increased their exposure to the sun/heat. What do you advise? And, this is a great site for interaction between you and we devoted plant lovers. Thank you!
Mark Davis

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Tue, 05/31/2016 - 12:14pm


Slowly reacclimating your plants to the outdoors is defintitely the way to go.  You do need to get it used to sun again.  Once it is happy in its old spot, then I would go ahead and trim off the damaged leaves to tidy the appearance of the plant.  If the flopped over leaves haven't bounced back from the damage, go ahead and remove them now.  Given a bit of time to slowly get used to sun again, your plant should be happy again in no time!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Tue, 03/01/2016 - 12:22pm

I bought this variety for the first time last fall & WOW, what a beautiful plant. I grew it in the entrance area to my home. It was shaded by the overhang on the porch but it received full light. I brought it indoors last fall & struggled to find the same lighting. I have very bright light from the south & the sun comes directly in the rooms. Recently (a month ago in early Feb) I had to move it to the basement where it gets limited light coming in a window that has a window well. I haven't had any new growth but for the first time, there are new shoots that have a cluster of green flowers. Aren't the flowers suppose to be pink? Could the low light have something to do with this? I have two shoots with the same business going on. When the first shoot came up, I thought it was deformed leaves due to moving the plant around the house but then it happened again.

Sandy Wentworth's picture
Sandy Wentworth Wed, 03/02/2016 - 1:08pm

The low light probably put it into a semi dormacy period and now it is coming out of it. I wasn't aware that this variety flowered.

Do you have a picture you could send to me?

Sandy Wentworth

Proven Winners


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 01/11/2016 - 11:49am

my begonia is like the one pictured. is this a maple leaf begonia?

Cindy Meyers's picture
Cindy Meyers Mon, 01/11/2016 - 12:13pm

The top picture in the article is a Pegasus Begonia. For more information on this plant you can go to this link:

Thank you!
Proven Winners

jeannettewilliams's picture
jeannettewilliams Tue, 10/20/2015 - 9:50am

can these be overwintered?

Cindy Meyers's picture
Cindy Meyers Tue, 10/20/2015 - 3:14pm

The Rieger begonia is not a Proven Winners, but it looks like it should overwinter the same as the Proven Winners Surefire series. Another link on our website that you might find helpful is:

No matter what, it is always worth trying to overwinter!
Thank you,
Proven Winners

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Sun, 10/11/2015 - 6:58pm

Hello, I have a beautiful Gryphon begonia which has been doing well all summer. I'd like to attempt to overwinter it and am wondering what type of begonia it is and how do I go about trying to overwinter.

Thank you,

Blue Bell, PA 19422
Zone 7A (suburban Philadelphia)

Sandy Wentworth's picture
Sandy Wentworth Mon, 10/12/2015 - 11:25am


This is a hybrid begonia. You can weather it over simply by bringing it in and treating it as a house plant. They like it on the dry side.

Inspect plant for insects, take off any folaige that has spots or damaged. flushing the soil with water will help get ride of anything living in the soil.

Sandy Wentworth

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 08/03/2015 - 10:40am

Please help! I've got a beautiful dragon wing that I've been growing since spring outside on my porch. It's flourished and has grown five times the size it was! But I've just noticed recently the leaves look brown and eaten up by something. Or nothing! Almost burnt looking. It gets watered every morning or every other morning. I don't feel it's over watered. But it looks like maybe a fungus?? Can I cure this?? Will it come back? Thank you!!

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Mon, 08/03/2015 - 3:13pm

You might find this article about Begonias diseases from Penn State helpful -

I think you might have botrytis, although it could also be bacterial leaf spot (the article has more info).  Make sure your plants have good airflower around them, this helps to dry foliage, water early enough in the day, if possible, to allow the foliage to dry before night and try to get as little water on the foliage as you can when you water.  Wet foliage, especially at night, is a breeding ground for bacterial and other plant diseases.  So water when the foliage will dry before nightfall. 

Once you are controlling the moisture on the foliage and you've ensured that you have good air flow, then check with your local garden center for a fungicide that can help control the disease.  You may also want to remove infected portions of the plant to help keep it from spreading.  Make sure you clean your shears/scissors after you trim to keep from spreading problems the next time you use your cutting tools.


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Thu, 07/16/2015 - 8:31am

I have rooted angel wings successfully, however with my new favorite one the stem rots or starts new leaf growth below the water line. I am hopeful to root and share it with others. Any advice?

Sandy Wentworth's picture
Sandy Wentworth Thu, 07/16/2015 - 10:35am

You can root the angel wings pretty easily, although we do not allow this with our plants because of the royalties and patents.

If you cut the plant off at a node you will have better luck and you can start them in water or soil. If you plant them right in the soil use a rooting compound and a very light soil mix.

Good luck.

Sandy Wentworth

Proven Winners


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:21pm

Hello. I have a question about my dragon wing begonia. It is in a pot that i kept on my front porch. I live in NC and one day in the fall it was nice and warm then then it suddenly got very cold. And my poor begonia was all wilted over and dead when i went outside. I quickly brought it inside. But i think i have killed it :( Is there anything i can do to save it? Or is it a goner?

Also can i trim off the dead flowers?

Thanks in advance!

Sandy Wentworth's picture
Sandy Wentworth Tue, 12/02/2014 - 1:51pm

Yes, I woud trim off the dead flowers, if they haven't fallen off already. Is there any green on the plant at all?

If so snap or cut off at the node or joint and root it for a new starter plant. You can root in water or get some rooting compound to dip it in before sticking it in the soil.

If the whole top is dead you can see if anything will come up from the root. You may have gotten it in time. These plants like to be kept on the dry side so keep it pretty dry or the roots will rot.

Sandy Wentworth

Proven Winners


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 10/13/2014 - 10:30pm

ARGH! I wish I knew the Dragon Wing Begonia could be brought inside! I never even thought of it. I love these beautiful begonias, they add such a splash of color to some boring areas in the garden! Out of the ones I had, I dug one up in the hope of regrowing it from the roots, but it sounds like this isn't possible for this type? Another one looked so sorry after being hit with a frost so I piled about 12" of mulch over it in the hope it might sprout again next year. We live in zone 3b in Edmonton Alberta, so am not holding out much hope for that idea?

Cindy Meyers's picture
Cindy Meyers Tue, 10/14/2014 - 3:21pm

You are correct in not holding out much hope outside. Is it possible still to bring it indoors? That is really your best hope of overwintering.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 09/22/2014 - 2:30pm

The information on your web site is very helpful. I plan to bring in both my dragon wing begonias. Should I repot them into a slightly bigger pot than they've been in all summer?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 09/22/2014 - 7:45am

Just started bringing in my begonias in my greenhouse on Sunday. This is great information, Thanks Proven Winners and Kerry!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Sat, 09/20/2014 - 12:35am

Would be great if you could show pictures of different begonias because I don't know what type mine are

Cindy Meyers's picture
Cindy Meyers Mon, 09/22/2014 - 12:03pm

Here is a link on our website where you can see the different begonias that Proven Winners has. If you click on 'View Details' you will see much more information regarding each of our begonias, as well as an Image link that you can click on to view more images of the plants. I hope this helps as you determine what type of begonias you have!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 09/15/2014 - 5:20am

I do so hope I can keep my begonia through the winter. I am not sure of its type, but it was a mothers day gift and I just love it.
You article is going to give me a chance to try.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Tue, 08/05/2014 - 9:45pm

Hi! My sister has a beautiful plant, that goes
dormant during the winter. Come spring, it looks dead, and then becomes a lovely leafy plant with many purple flowers! It is tiuberous and she stores it in her garage during the winter. We live in the Midwest. We would love to know the name of the plant and to divide it, to share it! The only thing we were told by the elderly woman, that we got it from called it a sleepy time plant...
Many thanks, Cindi

Laura Geoghegan's picture
Laura Geoghegan Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:40am

Hi Cindi –
OK so your mystery plant is likely one of a few things:
First possibility is a Gloxinia – see this link to see if it matches?
Or it could be an Achimenes – check this website:
Lastly it could be a hardy Gloxinia:
or maybe a Incarvillea? You would know because the leaves are shaped like a fern or feather and none of the other options have this kind of leaf?
Let us know if either is a match to your sisters plant!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:44pm

My dragon wing begonia that I brought inside in the fall is getting leggy. Will it hurt to prune it back?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Tue, 03/04/2014 - 10:43pm

It will not hurt your dragon wing! Root your cuttings in water, if you wish.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Wed, 11/20/2013 - 10:48pm

Where in your lists does 'Sparks Will Fly' fit?

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Fri, 03/07/2014 - 9:45pm

One of the parents of this begonia is Begonia boliviensis.  This species was used when developing the original tuberous begonias.  While it isn't strictly a tuberous begonia, that is most likely the best group to use as a guideline.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Fri, 10/25/2013 - 12:55pm

I have a gryphon begonia that drops it's leaves when I bring it in for the winter. They return in the spring. Nothing I find on the internet indicates that that is common. Is there something I am not doing. Other begonias are fine.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Wed, 11/20/2013 - 6:25pm

Yes, I think that is common - at least in my zone (5-6)

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Sat, 10/05/2013 - 10:37am

Can begonias mutate? I have a 20 yr old plant that I received from a friend who grew it in his greenhouse. I have looked at hundreds of photos and can not find this type. Where else can I research for it.

Rick Schoellhorn's picture
Rick Schoellhorn Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:21pm

If you want to send me a picture I would be happy to help solve the mystery! I love that kind of stuff and I am a confirmed Begoniaholic!

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Fri, 03/07/2014 - 9:32pm

Any plant can mutate, so it is certainly possible that your plant has done.  For researching different types of beonias I would try the Begonia Society for further research. 


Kerry Meyer
Proven Winners

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Fri, 06/14/2013 - 1:47pm

Does anyone know which category a waterfall begonia falls under and can these be kept over winter? Im not the most green fingered person in the world but my Begonia is so lovely it would be a shame if it died after summer

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Fri, 03/07/2014 - 9:54pm

It is Begonia boliviensis and you should treat it pretty much as you would a tuberous begonia.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Sun, 05/26/2013 - 11:51am

This is outstanding information for indoor and outdoor gardeners.
As a garden writer and lecturer, I will reference it in my presentations.
I use it often as a reference in my work.
Comprehensive and well-researched advice.
Thank you PW!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 08/01/2016 - 10:09am

I find the website informative and easy to answer many basic questions I have about begonias. But I have a different question I didn't see listed.

This morning when I was moving a large Begonia boliviensis from the front porch upstairs, the entire plant snapped off at ground level. I have tried to root new plants in the past from this particular type of begonia but have had no luck with them growing. Previously, I have rooted wax begonias and angel wing begonias with no problem. However, each spring my Begonia boliviensis sprouts anew after going dormant and grows for another season.

My question is will the plant sprout again this late in the season or will losing the top growth force it into dormancy?

Thank you.

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Fri, 03/07/2014 - 9:56pm

We are glad you found it helpful!  We really do love to garden and many of our articles are written because we find ourselves answering the same or similar questions repeatedly.  When that happens, we write an article that addresses the topic.  It's always nice to hear that we have delivered something gardeners find helpful!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Mon, 10/01/2012 - 7:21am

What a thoroughly informative article! I have been trying to sort this out for years, but never was able to get all the information in one place AND in relation to each other. Thanks for doing a great article that shows us the bird's eye view, but then goes into the nitty gritty. Great writing.

Kerry Meyer's picture
Kerry Meyer Fri, 03/07/2014 - 9:56pm

Thank you for taking the time to drop us a note.  We are glad you found the information helpful!

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