How to Store Tuberous Begonias for the Winter and Restart in the Spring

Updated on October 24, 2016
Orange Tuberous Begonia
Orange Tuberous Begonia | Source

Let me begin by saying I am a perennial kind of gardener. I love when my Day Lilies, Tiger Lilies and Hostas just pop up every year. A funny thing happened on Mother's Day. My sister gave me a gorgeous potted tuberous Begonia that grew and bloomed all summer. I've never been so fascinated by a plant. Nor have I been able to keep one alive let alone watch it thrive! It has the most gorgeous orange blooms! My goal is to keep this "annual" flower safely stored for the Winter and restart it in the Spring.

The Tuberous Begonia

The Tuberous Begonia is an annual plant and its scientific name is begonia tuberhybrida. This will tell you it is grown from a tuber and its many varieties are hybrids which means they are a result of cross breeding.

  • The Tuberous Begonia flowers come in many shapes, sizes and colors.
  • They can stand upright or be used in hanging baskets.
  • They can have frilled or plain petals or rose shaped blooms.
  • Three blooms develop on each stem.
  • The male flowers are usually double petaled and can be quite large and beautiful.
  • The two outer blooms are usually female. They are smaller but still quite beautiful and are single petaled with a light green seed capsule behind the petals.

Tuberous Begonias are quite easy to take care of. They endure the elements of wind and rain and greatly enhance your garden from June through October.

Their Winter dormant period is determined by day length and weather in cold climates and day length in warmer climates. They need to follow their natural cycle and the following information will let you help them to do that.

Tuberous Begonia Double Petaled Male Flower
Tuberous Begonia Double Petaled Male Flower
Tuberous Begonia Female Single Petaled Flower
Tuberous Begonia Female Single Petaled Flower | Source
Tuberous Begonia Female Bloom with a 3 Winged Seed Capsule
Tuberous Begonia Female Bloom with a 3 Winged Seed Capsule | Source

Winter Storage

When To Start

In Northern Climates where it freezes the tuberous begonia must be dug up and the tubers stored indoors for the Winter. This should be done after the first light frost.

In Southern Climates where it rarely or never freezes tuberous begonias will go dormant on their own. They do this according to the length of the day. This usually occurs in October or November. Stop watering them when they start to yellow and their leaves drop.

Note: If your Begonias were potted and not in beds you can put the pots in an indoor place where the tubers won't get wet. The problem is they are more likely to rot if they remain buried in soil. You may be more successful if you dig them up, dry them out and store them.

What To Do

In Northern Climates

  • Dig up the entire plant and its tuber.
  • Gently remove all soil and loose roots
  • Lay the entire plant in a warm, dry area for several days to thoroughly dry it out
  • Once it is dry it is easy to remove the stems

In Southern Climates the biggest difficulty is to keep them out of the rain. You will need to keep them dry so it is best to dig them up as mentioned above.

Storing The Tubers

Place each tuber in a separate paper bag and place them in a cardboard box for storage. This will allow the tubers to breathe and will prevent rotting and pests. As long as they are separated a problem that occurs for one tuber will not affect them all.

I only had one tuber and I placed it on a newspaper on a shelf in a dark, dry storage room in the basement. The dirt and leaves fell away as it dried out. My Tuber is now sprouting buds!!

 March-My Tuber now has Sprouts!!
March-My Tuber now has Sprouts!! | Source
Begonia Tubers with Sprouts
Begonia Tubers with Sprouts

Spring Restart

Get started in February or March. It's Important That The Sprouts Appear Before Planting!

  • Fill a nursery flat or another shallow container with planting medium. Well rotted leaf mulch is recommended. Just make sure the medium is loose, well drained and does not contain fertilizer or manure.
  • Loosen the soil and space the sprouted tubers evenly 4-6 inches apart in flat. The indented side of the tuber should be facing up! The roots develop from the top and the sides. Don't completely bury the tuber. Just cover lightly with the planting medium.
  • Water lightly but thoroughly. The tubers should never be in standing water.
  • Place flat in a warm place with filtered sunlight, partial shade.
  • Keep them indoors until the weather warms during the day. You can then place them outside in partial shade. The hotter the climate the more shade they will prefer.
  • Water only when soil begins to show dryness. You can water more as the plants develop.
  • Keep in the tubers in flats until the roots are well developed. You can transplant them in pots or flower beds when there is 4-5 inches of growth.

How To Plant The Tubers

Tuberous Begonias are easy to grow. They can survive in many types of soil. The most important thing is perfect drainage. Do not use a "potting mix". You can use a good potting soil from a nursery and it should contain humus.

If you would like to make your own soil the best mix would be:

  • 4 parts well decayed mulch
  • 1 part garden loam
  • 1 part course sand

If you are planting the tubers outdoors prepare the garden soil. Large amounts of peat moss are not recommended except in sandy soils. Clay soil drains poorly so add humus, sand or both.

Questions & Answers


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      • pedrn44 profile image

        Sandi 4 months ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

        I did not split mine. You would have to be careful with the root structure and as you can see there are many sprouts in each tuber that could be damaged. Thanks for stopping by!

      • profile image

        Alan Price 4 months ago

        Can the stored corms be split to produce more plants?

      • pedrn44 profile image

        Sandi 6 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

        Thanks, tillsontitan. I tried to winter over a poinsettia and forgot all about it once it was in my closet. This will be a new attempt for me and I hope it works! Thanks for your great comment and votes:)

      • tillsontitan profile image

        Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

        Beautiful begonia photos and very informative. Your information leaves nothing to the imagination, you've covered everything you promise in your title! I'm a garden lover but can't find the time to winter over my plants and wind up buying new ones the next spring. Voted up and useful.

      • pedrn44 profile image

        Sandi 6 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

        you write the best comments sunshine:) I have never had a green thumb either but this plant inspired me. In Florida you would only have to move them inside perhaps and put them out in the Spring. I am going to give it my best...storing them and all that...our winters are fierce. Ugh!! We'll see what happens. Thanks so much for your votes and your encouragement to keep on keeping on.


      • Sunshine625 profile image

        Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

        Hi pedrn! What an amazingly beautiful hub! I've never had a green thumb but I've tried many, many times. Your photos make me want to give some love to planting again, one day. We have been trying to grow pumpkins for 3 years now. So far it hasn't worked. My hubby doesn't think they are going to work again. Maybe it's the Florida soil and not just me. Yep, that sounds good to me. Haha! Voted across the board :)