Begonias (Begonia spp.) are prized for their variety of styles. The more than 2,000 species range widely in color, shape, size and hardiness. In general, Rex begonias, which are cultivated for their attractive foliage, grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. Others -- many of which are called "hardy" -- grow well in USDA zones 6 through 9. Shrublike begonias fall into both groups.
Shrublike begonias are classified by their growing habit rather than by a particular species or cultivar. The plants grow in a bushy form, with multiple shoots and many branches. Some form a pleasingly rounded shape. Others droop a bit, but they will not drape over the edge of a basket like tuberous begonias. Shrublike begonias can get quite large. Although most have an average height of between 1 and 3 feet, some can reach heights of 12 feet.
Some begonias -- namely, the rhizomatous types -- will thrive in full shade. This is not the case with shrublike begonias. These beauties bloom best in filtered sunlight. Direct sunlight is too much for their attractive leaves. Some will bloom continuously throughout their growing season, which ranges from winter to late summer. Shrublike begonias, like all begonias, thrive in rich, well-draining soil.
Selected Species and Cultivars
Begonia foliosa "Miniata" is often called the fuchsia begonia because of its hot pink, fuchsialike flowers. Hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11, this shrublike begonia grows to a maximum height and width of about 3 feet and 2 feet, respectively. Begonia listada is notable for its velvety soft leaves, which feature creamy white variegation on the top surface and red undersides. Begonia listada grows best in USDA zones 10 and 11.
Shrublike begonias may act as tender perennials -- they may die down to the ground during the winter, especially if the temperatures in your climate frequently dip below freezing. This does not mean you should give up on your plant. Often, they return to bloom again in the spring. In general, shrublike begonias are often root-hardy to USDA zone 8 even if they die above the ground, according to the Pacific Horticulture Society.