Virtues: Sutherland begonia brings warm color to the shade garden with its red-edged, red-veined foliage, red flower stems and constant orange flowers. Its short, wide habit makes it a good plant for a hanging basket, window box, other container or the front of the flower border. It’s a tender perennial, but it is easy to winter indoors in cold climates.
Common name: Sutherland begonia
Botanical name: Begonia sutherlandii
Flowers: Orange-colored flowers with a yellow button eye appear all summer on downward-hanging red stems.
Foliage: The leaves of Sutherland begonia are light green with red veins and red margins. The edges are jagged and the leaf shape is long and narrow, asymetrical and tapering to a point.
Habit: Sutherland begonia is a tuberous perennial plant that grows 6 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
Season: Summer, for foliage and flowers.
Exposure: Part sun to shade.
Origin: Southeastern Africa
How to grow Sutherland begonia: This begonia grows from tubers. It prefers part sun or light shade. Sutherland begonia requires fertile soil and consistent moisture, but it must have good drainage. Provide good air circulation to prevent foliar diseases such as powdery mildew.
Sutherland begonia can be wintered indoors where it isn’t hardy; if it’s in a pot, bring the pot to a cool, dark space indoors and withhold water. It will die back. Bring it back to warmth and light in the spring and resume watering once it sprouts. Sutherland begonia can also be cut back after the frost and the tubers dried and stored like dahlias. It can be propagated from seed (bulbils) or from softwood cuttings or leaf cuttings. USDA Zones 8–10.
Image by Peter Coxhead: Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0