Elatior begonias (Begonia x hiemalis) are hybrid flowering begonias developed to have single or double flowers in shades of pink, red, white and yellow that can last a long time when grown indoors, even as they beautify the space. The red-flowered cultivar 'Barkos' is particularly notable for its ability to survive in low-light levels. These compact annuals, which also boast broad, dark green waxy foliage, require minimal care and maintenance.
Elatior begonias thrive in humid conditions and can suffer in the dry air found indoors. Place the pot on top of a shallow tray of pebbles and water the pebbles every one or two days, taking care not to let the bottom of the pot sit in water. You can also mist the plant every day with a spray bottle or use a humidifier.
Use Well-Draining Soil
For potted begonias, use a well-draining potting mixture containing peat moss and sand, perlite or vermiculite. It's crucial to use a container with a hole in the bottom for drainage. During the growing season, from spring until the first frosts of fall, fertilize with a water-soluble 15-30-15 fertilizer. Dilute 1/2 teaspoon of fertilizer into 1 gallon of water and apply to the soil every two weeks.
Though many begonia varieties like to be rootbound, or grown in a smaller-sized pot that restricts their roots, Elatior begonias do not. After the first year, repot in the spring into a larger container.
Do Not Overwater
Water regularly to keep the soil moist but not-water logged or flooded. Soil should slightly dry out in between waterings; begonias do not tolerate soggy conditions. Outdoor plants may be planted directly in the garden soil, but regular garden soil and compost can cause conditions to become too wet for potted plants, resulting in rot diseases. If planting multiple Elatior begonias in the garden, provide at least 12 inches of space between plants.
You can pinch back, or neatly break, old growth with your fingers to control growth on a tall, leggy begonia. Pinch back above a leaf node, the slightly swollen tissue below each leaf. The plant will produce sideshoots, creating a bushier plant. Excessively tall, sparse plants may be suffering from inadequate light or overfertilization.
Check for Pests
Like other begonias, Elatior begonias are not particularly susceptible to pests. Check the area where leaves join stems; if cottony masses exist there, the plant may have mealybugs, sap-sucking insects that can cause distorted growth. Mealybugs can be removed by swabbing the plant with undiluted rubbing alcohol.
If controlling pests with insecticides, always follow label instructions exactly; to do otherwise is illegal. Store unused insecticides in a secure location away from children, pets and food products.