Last summer, I grew bedding begonias (begonia semperflorens) from seed. This wasn’t my first attempt. The first year that I grew bedding begonias from seed, I scattered the seeds in a punnet and covered them with seed raising mix. The germination rate was poor, probably because the seed raising mix was too thick for covering such fine seeds and they struggled to push through the surface. The seedlings were stuck together and the roots became damaged when I tried to prise them apart later on when transplanting them into 6-cell punnets. Thanks to some advice from the extremely helpful John McCullough, the owner of Egmont Seeds, the New Zealand mail order seed supplier that I purchased my seeds from, I managed to perfect my propagation technique last year and was very happy with the results.
My favourite colours are bronze leaf white and pink and green leaf white, so I stuck to varieties that fitted this description. All of these were in the Egmont Seeds Commercial Catalogue, which is available from the company upon request. They will send you a link or you can ask if you can purchase a hard copy. This is the catalogue that commercial nurseries use and is different to the catalogue on the website and which is posted to home gardeners every winter. If you order from the catalogue year after year and meet the threshold of the minimum spend, they will send you a complimentary copy by post. Last year, I grew the following varieties from seed:
It is possible to find bedding begonias at garden centres in 6-cell punnets or as potted colour. This is ideal if you only have a small garden or haven’t grown bedding begonias before and want to see if you like them or not. If you need a lot of plants then it is much more economical to raise them from seed, especially since plants have become much more expensive since the pandemic. If you require a lot of plants that are the same colour, it is definitely better to propagate plants from seed as garden centres may have limited colours and numbers of plants. Don’t forget that other people go to the garden centre too and may have already purchased some from the tray, so there might not be enough for your requirements. If this is the case, you could try asking if the garden centre can order what you need from the grower.
Here are my top tips for growing bedding begonias from seed:
In the picture above, you can also see some other plants I raised from seed last summer. Behind the trough is Malabar Spinach. To the right are some Climbing Cobra runner beans. Infront of the trough are African marigolds. I have recently written a blog post about growing marigolds, which you can read here if you want.