Everything You Need to Know About Begonia Flower Meaning, Symbolism, History, Origins, and Growing Tips at Home

The begonia is a beautiful perennial flowering plant, steeped in a rich and interesting history. They make a fabulous addition to any garden and will happily grow in pots, beds, hanging baskets, and more. They’re also an excellent gifting bloom and grace many elegant floral arrangements. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the begonia flower history, origins, meaning, symbolism, and how to care for these exquisite blooms at home. 

Table of Contents: 


Begonia Flower – The Essentials

The begonia flower has a rich history and a variety of meanings. Begonias are traditionally symbolic of uniqueness, harmony, gratitude, or caution. In addition, begonias of different colors come with their own importance. 

These subtropical flowers can be given on an anniversary, as a congratulatory gift, or as a way to say “thank you” to someone. They are also used in spiritual ceremonies to symbolize purity. 

When you are given a cut begonia as a gift, you can trim the stem and keep it in water to extend its life. Alternatively, your begonia stem can be easily planted and propagated in your garden. 


About the Begonia Flower

About the Begonia Flower

It’s not hard to see why begonias are such a popular choice for gifts and flower gardens. They’re beautiful, come in multiple rich colors, and have an equally compelling background. 

Before we get into the special meanings of the begonia, let’s start with the basics. 

Overview

  • Genus: Begonia
  • Family: Begoniaceae
  • Species (4 most common): Begonia coccinea, Begonia foliosa, Begonia grandis, Begonia obliqua, Begonia cucullata
  • Types: There are several common types of begonias, including tuberous begonias, rex, angel wings, wax, and winter-flowering varieties. 

The name Begonia refers to a genus with around 1300 species. These flowers are native to tropical and subtropical zones but are grown all over the world today. Although most begonia species bloom in the summer months, some varieties flower in the winter. 

Begonias grow best in temperate, shady conditions. The vast majority of species are perfectly safe for humans and pets. However, some begonias contain a sap that can be irritating to humans and even toxic to cats and dogs — it’s crucial to research a particular begonia plant before you buy it. 

Unfortunately, these aren’t the most-bee friendly garden flowers. If you want to attract bees to your garden, experts recommend planting your begonias alongside bee-friendly species like lavender or sage. 

History & Origins

History & Origins

The begonia is a colorful flower with an equally colorful history. Native to regions of South American and East Asia, it was discovered by French botanist Charles Plumier in the early 1700s. 

So, what’s in a name? Believe it or not, this flower wasn’t named for its bright colors or characteristics. The name actually derives from Michel Begon, a well-known Caribbean politician at the time. 

Since its original discovery, the begonia has been cultivated and planted as a decorative flower all around the world. Today, you can find begonias in home gardens, public parks, and florist shops everywhere you go!

Cultivation

Cultivation

Compared to other popular flowers, begonias are easy to grow and maintain. They can be planted from bulbs or trimmings and grow well indoors. 

If you are growing begonias inside, keep them under a lamp or window. It’s essential to keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering — once or twice a week is plenty. As your begonias bloom, they will need to be trimmed and groomed to stay healthy. 

Because of their resilience and bright colors, professional gardeners often use begonias in landscaping. You can find them in public parks and greenhouses across the country, with hardier begonias thriving in USDA zones 7-10 and beyond. 

Uses & Benefits

Begonias are primarily decorative flowers. They aren’t used in herbal teas or medicines — some species are mildly toxic, and the rest don’t taste as perfectly. 

That said, there are tons of benefits to growing or buying begonias. Their bright colors make great indoor and outdoor ornaments. Because they are so easy to grow, planting begonias is a terrific way to add splashes of vibrant color to your garden. 

On top of that, these beautiful flowers make great gifts for birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. 


Begonia Flower Meaning & Symbolism

So, when you give someone a begonia (or plant one outside your home), what exactly are you saying?

That all depends on what kind of begonia you choose. Remember, these flowers come in a wide variety of colors, so there are plenty of messages you can send with them. Here’s a brief overview of the meaning and symbolism behind the more popular begonia colors. 

Red Begonia Flower Meaning

Red Begonias

Like other red flowers, a red begonia symbolizes love, passion, and romance. This is not a flower you would want to give to someone you just met — unless you find them very attractive!

A red begonia is an excellent gift to a partner or romantic interest. It shows undying love, desire, and devotion.

Pink Begonia Flower Meaning

Pink Begonias

A pink begonia also symbolizes love and romance. However, pink flowers are less intense than red. They don’t have the same meaning of passion and devotion. 

In other words, if you want to show your affection or interest in someone, a pink begonia is the perfect gift. These flowers can often be found around Valentine’s Day and make a great addition to a bouquet on a first or second date. 

Yellow Begonia Flower Meaning

Yellow Begonias

Yellow flowers stand for happiness, joy, and wealth. This is particularly true of yellow begonias. Because they are so grand and vibrant, these flowers will easily light up a room. 

A yellow begonia can be given as a symbol of hope, friendship, or kindness toward someone in your life. If you want to bring happiness to your own home, they also make a lovely addition to your flower garden or an indoor bouquet. 

White Begonia Flower Meaning

White Begonias

White begonias symbolize purity and innocence. Like other white flowers, white begonias are often used in spiritual ceremonies like weddings, and christenings. 

A white begonia can be given to pretty much anyone in your life. Because their meaning is universally flattering, there is no harm in using them to dress up any gift or decorative bouquet. 

Other Meanings & Symbolism of Begonia Flowers

Other Meanings & Symbolism of Begonias

Alongside the symbolism behind each color, begonias have a few other meanings.

These flowers are grown all over the world. That means there are hundreds of diverse cultural meanings attached to them. We can’t name all of those meanings in this article, but we can cover a few of the most popular. 

Warnings of misfortune: Traditionally, a begonia flower stood for an omen of something sinister in the near future. Most people don’t subscribe to this meaning today, but it is the reason why begonias are still so popular as gifts in hospitals. 

Caution: In some cultures, begonias are used to symbolize vigilance. You can give a begonia (of any color) to someone as a way of telling them to take care and stay healthy. 

Harmony: Another typical meaning of the begonia flower is harmonious communication. They symbolize diplomacy, kindness, and peaceful transactions between individuals or businesses. 

Gratitude: If you want to give a flower as a way of saying “thank you” to someone, a begonia is an excellent choice. These flowers symbolize gratitude and thankfulness for a kind act. 

Justice or peace: Begonias are often interpreted as a symbol of peace. In many cultures, they are given as a way to end a feud or argument. You can give your friend a begonia when you want to tell them you are sorry — or if you are ready to forgive them. 

Individuality: Begonias have a unique appearance and come in many colors and varieties. For those reasons, they symbolize individuality. Keeping begonias in your home is a great way to show your uniqueness and take pride in what makes you unique. 

Literary Meanings of Begonias

As you can see, that begonia flower is tied to a lot of positive symbolism. When given as a gift, these flowers represent a range of emotions, including love, happiness, and peace. 

But the symbolism of begonias is not always positive. In literature, they have a much darker meaning. 

Because many cultures see begonias as symbols of warning or caution, they have come to represent dark thoughts in a lot of stories. Descriptions of begonias in literature can mean there is danger up ahead. It can also signify a character is thinking dark or brooding thoughts. 

If you’re planning on giving a begonia as a gift, you shouldn’t worry about their darker side! The literary symbolism is outdated. Today, most people see begonias as a positive, happy symbol. 


Suitable Gifting Occasions for Begonia Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Begonia Flowers

Because the begonia flower has so many meanings, it can be given as a gift on pretty much any occasion. However you decide to give your begonia, it’s sure to make someone happy! Here’s a quick guide on the best times to give these flowers and which colors to choose. 

Anniversaries

It’s common to give flowers on an anniversary. But if you want to give your significant other a begonia, make sure to pick the right color. 

Red and pink begonias both stand for love. A red begonia is a great way to show your devotion to someone, while a pink begonia shows attraction and affection. You can also add yellow or white flowers to symbolize the purity and happiness in your relationship. 

Congratulations

The begonia is a wonderful flower to give as a congratulatory gift. Begonias stand for individuality and harmony, so they show appreciation for someone who has made a significant accomplishment. 

If you want to give a begonia as a congratulations, the best colors to choose are yellow or gold. Yellow begonias represent happiness, wealth, and hope. 

Baby Showers

White begonias stand for innocence and purity. That’s why they make fantastic presents at a baby shower, or as a gesture to congratulate new parents. If you want to make your bouquet more colorful, you can also include yellow begonias to stand for happiness and joy. 

Making Peace

There are several occasions when a begonia can be given as a symbol of peace. Business mergers, for example, should be decorated with begonias to set a tone of unity. 

Giving a begonia is also a lovely gesture to end an argument or disagreement. Avoid red or pink — gold, white, and yellow begonias are best for peace-making. 


Begonia Cut Flower Care

Begonia Cut Flower Care

Want to extend the lifespan of your cut begonia? 

The best thing you can do is to plant it in soil. Begonia cuttings can be replanted to grow in your garden or flowerpot. 

To start, just cut the tip of your stem and insert it into the soil. Keep the soil wet with a spray bottle and cover it with a plastic bag or bottle to hold the moisture in. Your new begonia plant will take root in no time! 

If you don’t want to plant your begonia stem, no worries — you can keep it in a vase with water for up to a week. To help keep the flower bright and blooming, cut off the tip of the stem before you soak it. 

According to some sources, soaking the cut tip of the stem in honey can also help to extend the lifespan of the flower. 


Final Thoughts

The begonia flower is bright, diverse, and meaningful. It represents a variety of emotions, including love, hope, and happiness — but it also has a darker meaning in literature! The unique appearance of this flower makes it one-of-a-kind. 

While they may not be as popular as roses or daisies, begonias are marvelous gifts for practically any occasion. They’re also easy to grow in your own garden or propagate on your windowsill. 

No matter what color or species you choose, a begonia bouquet is an excellent way to show someone that you care.


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