Virtues: Santa Cruz Sunset begonia is a flowering plant for sun or shade that can be grown as an annual or a tender perennial. It adds bright color even to shady gardens with its fiery blooms. Its neat habit makes it a good choice for containers, as does its tolerance of heat and drought. This plant earned high marks in Kansas State University’s Prairie Star Flowers trial program.
Common name: ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ begonia
Botanical name: Begonia boliviensis ’Santa Cruz Sunset’
Exposure: Sun to shade
Season: Summer, for flowers
Flowers: The downward-facing orange-red flowers have long, narrow petals. This begonia blooms from spring until frost.
Foliage: Angel-wing type begonia foliage in dark green.
Habit: Santa Cruz Sunset begonia grows 12 to 16 inches tall and 16 to 20 inches wide. It makes a mounded form that works well in tall containers, hanging baskets and window boxes.
How to grow Santa Cruz Sunset begonia: Site in sun or shade and well-drained soil. This begonia is tolerant of heat and drought, but it appreciates more shade in very hot weather and performs best with regular watering. This begonia is typically grown as an annual, but it grows from tubers that can be stored in a cool, dark location over the winter and grown on again the following year, or the plant can be tended as a houseplant indoors. (It will not bloom over the winter, because it requires long days to set flower buds.) Hardy in USDA Zones 7b–10.
Image courtesy of Prairie Star Flowers