scarlet begonias

Scarlet Begonias: Care Guide & Blooming Tips

Scarlet begonias are a popular plant and for good reason – their vibrant blooms add a splash of color to any garden or landscape. Proper care is essential for keeping these beauties healthy and encouraging abundant flowering. In this article, we will share our expert tips for successful scarlet begonia care and blooming.

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper care and attention are crucial for vibrant scarlet begonia blooms.
  • Choosing the right varieties and planting techniques will ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms.
  • Regular maintenance practices, including watering, fertilizing, and pruning, are necessary for long-term success.
  • Scarlet begonias can be grown indoors or outdoors, and their cultural significance adds an extra layer of interest to this beautiful plant.

Understanding Scarlet Begonias

Scarlet begonias are popular flowers known for their vibrant crimson-red color and beautiful blooms. These flowers belong to the begonia plant family, which includes more than 1,800 species. Scarlet begonias are mainly cultivated for their attractive flowers, but some varieties have attractive foliage too.

The meaning of the term “scarlet begonias” originates from the famous song by the Grateful Dead. It refers to the vibrant and colorful blooms of these flowers that are associated with joy, excitement, and happiness. Scarlet begonias can grow up to 12 inches tall, producing an abundance of flowers that can last from early summer through fall.

Scarlet begonias grow well in temperate and tropical regions, making them a popular choice for outdoor gardens and indoor plant collections. These flowers are versatile and easy to care for, making them an excellent addition to any garden.

The Begonia Plant Family

The begonia plant family is diverse, with a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. These plants are native to moist subtropical and tropical regions and can grow in different soil types and environments. The begonia family includes various species, such as tuberous, rhizomatous, and fibrous begonias.

“Scarlet begonias are a stunning addition to any garden and are easy to care for. Their vibrant red color and beautiful blooms make them a popular choice for gardeners of all levels.”

Choosing the Right Scarlet Begonia Varieties

Scarlet begonias are a popular choice among gardeners due to their vibrant red hue and ability to thrive in various conditions. When selecting scarlet begonia varieties for your garden, it’s important to consider factors such as sunlight exposure, soil type, and bloom time.

Sunlight Exposure

Scarlet begonias require moderate to bright indirect sunlight to thrive. If your garden experiences full sun exposure, it’s important to select scarlet begonia varieties that are tolerant of high light levels, such as ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ or ‘Dragon Wing’.

scarlet begonias

Soil Type

Scarlet begonias prefer well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH. When selecting scarlet begonia varieties, consider the soil type in your garden. For sandy soil, choose varieties such as ‘Bonfire’ or ‘Cocktail Vodka’ that can tolerate drought conditions. In heavier soil, select varieties such as ‘Big Red with Bronze Leaf’ or ‘Illumination’ that are more tolerant to moisture.

Bloom Time

Scarlet begonia varieties bloom at different times throughout the growing season. If you want a continuous display of scarlet blooms, select varieties with a long bloom time, such as ‘Nonstop Joy’ or ‘Gryphon’. For a burst of color during a specific time period, choose varieties such as ‘Boliviensis’ or ‘Cherry Blossom’.

By considering these factors and selecting the right scarlet begonia varieties for your garden, you can enjoy a stunning display of vibrant red blooms throughout the growing season.

Planting Scarlet Begonias

Growing scarlet begonias is a great way to add vibrant pops of color to your garden or outdoor space. When planting scarlet begonias, it’s essential to consider their unique needs to ensure their health and optimal growth.

Soil Preparation

Scarlet begonias thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients. Before planting, prepare the soil by adding organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to improve soil quality and texture. It’s also important to ensure the soil pH is between 5.5 and 6.5, as begonias prefer acidic soil.


When choosing a location to plant scarlet begonias, look for an area that receives partial shade or filtered sunlight. Full sun can scorch their leaves, while too much shade can prevent blooming. Additionally, ensure the area has good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases.


Scarlet begonias should be spaced approximately 6-12 inches apart, depending on the variety. This allows for adequate airflow and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to disease and poor growth.

By following these planting techniques and considerations, you can provide your scarlet begonias with the ideal environment for healthy growth and beautiful blooms.

Watering and Fertilizing Scarlet Begonias

Proper watering and fertilizing practices are essential for maintaining the health and vitality of your scarlet begonias. These practices will not only promote vigorous growth but also encourage vibrant blooming, resulting in a stunning display of scarlet begonias in your garden.

Watering Scarlet Begonias

The key to watering scarlet begonias is to maintain moist, well-drained soil. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases, while underwatering can cause wilting and stunted growth. As a general rule of thumb, water scarlet begonias when the soil feels slightly dry to the touch. Avoid wetting the foliage, as this can promote fungal growth and other diseases.

During the summer months, scarlet begonias may require more frequent watering due to increased heat and humidity. In drier climates, additional watering may also be necessary. Be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly to meet the needs of your scarlet begonias.

Fertilizing Scarlet Begonias

Regular fertilization is crucial for the healthy growth and blooming of scarlet begonias. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season, following the manufacturer’s instructions for application and dosage.

Organic fertilizers, such as compost and worm castings, can also be used to provide slow-release nutrients to scarlet begonias. Apply these fertilizers around the base of the plant, taking care not to let them come into direct contact with the foliage or stems.

When applying fertilizer to scarlet begonias, always err on the side of caution to avoid overfertilization, which can damage the plant and promote salt buildup in the soil.

scarlet begonia care

Maintaining Scarlet Begonias

Proper maintenance is key to keeping your scarlet begonias healthy and thriving. Regular pruning, deadheading, and pest control measures are essential to ensure your begonias reach their full potential.


Pruning is necessary to keep your scarlet begonias from becoming too leggy or overgrown. Use clean, sharp pruning shears to trim back any dead or damaged growth, as well as any stems that are growing in unwanted directions.


Removing spent blooms, or deadheading, is essential to encourage your scarlet begonias to produce new blooms. Pinch off the dead flowers at the point where they meet the stem, taking care not to damage any surrounding buds or foliage.

Pest Control

Preventing and treating pest infestations is crucial to the health of your scarlet begonias. Keep an eye out for common pests such as spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids, and use appropriate treatments such as insecticidal soap or neem oil to control them.

By following these simple maintenance tasks and strategies, you can keep your scarlet begonias thriving and blooming all season long.

Propagating Scarlet Begonias

Scarlet begonias are a beautiful addition to any garden, and propagating them is an excellent way to expand your collection or share them with others. There are three primary methods for propagating scarlet begonias: division, stem cuttings, and leaf cuttings.


Division is the easiest way to propagate scarlet begonias. This method involves separating the root ball of an established plant into two or more sections, each with its own roots and stem. This can be done when repotting an overgrown plant or dividing a group of plants to create new ones.

scarlet begonia propagation

Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings involve snipping a piece of the stem from an established plant and replanting it in soil. To do this, take a healthy stem cutting that is approximately 4-6 inches long, with at least one node. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem, leaving only those at the top. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone and plant it in a container filled with moist soil. Keep the soil moist and place the container in a warm, well-lit location. In a few weeks, roots should begin to grow.

Leaf Cuttings

Leaf cuttings involve taking a cutting of a leaf with a small piece of stem attached and propagating it in soil. To do this, select a healthy leaf cutting from an established plant and gently remove it from the stem. Plant the leaf cutting in soil with the stem end buried, and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks, roots should begin to grow from the stem end of the cutting.

With a little patience and care, propagating scarlet begonias can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Whether you choose to divide an existing plant, take stem cuttings, or leaf cuttings, you can expand your collection and enjoy the beauty of scarlet begonias for years to come.

Designing with Scarlet Begonias

Scarlet begonias are not just stunning on their own, but they also make beautiful additions to any garden landscape. Let your creativity flow by incorporating these vibrant blooms in your garden’s design.

Beds and Borders

Scarlet begonias can be used to create eye-catching bedding displays. Plant them in rows of alternating colors for a striking effect. Mix in other plants with complementary hues and textures to create a dynamic floral display.

“Scarlet begonias lined up in a row
One, two, three, four of them blooms arranged in a row.”
-Grateful Dead, “Scarlet Begonias”

Container Gardens

Scarlet begonias are excellent container plants, perfect for patios, porches or other cozy spaces. Pair them with other flowering plants and trailing vines for a stunning display that will thrive throughout the growing season.


Scarlet begonias make great accent plants for borders and garden beds. Plant them in groups or as a solitary accent to draw the eye, or place them near shrubs or trees with contrasting colors. Scarlet begonias also look wonderful alongside other bright-colored flowers and even succulent plants.

Get creative and let your garden’s design flourish with the addition of these stunning scarlet begonias.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Scarlet begonias are typically hardy plants that are fairly easy to care for, but like any other plant, they can fall prey to a variety of issues. Here are some common problems that may arise and tips for troubleshooting:


“Prevention is the best medicine” — this proverb is especially true when it comes to disease. To prevent disease, make sure your scarlet begonias are planted in soil with adequate drainage, avoid getting the foliage wet when watering, and keep the leaves dry by spacing out your plants. In the event of an outbreak, remove the infected plant and any leaves that show signs of infection. Fungicides can also be used to control the spread of disease.”


Common pests that may attack your scarlet begonias include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. To prevent these pests, practice good hygiene by keeping your garden clean and weed-free. You can also introduce natural predators like ladybugs or use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to control pests.

Environmental Stress

Scarlet begonias are sensitive to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. If they are exposed to too much sun, they may wilt, while exposure to cold temperatures can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall off. Ensure that your scarlet begonias receive the appropriate amount of light and are planted in well-draining soil to prevent soil saturation and root rot.

By addressing these common issues promptly and taking preventive measures, you can help your scarlet begonias thrive and continue to produce stunning displays of vibrant blooms.

Scarlet Begonias in Lyrics and Culture

Scarlet begonias have made a memorable impact on music and pop culture. The Grateful Dead, a legendary American rock band, wrote a song called “Scarlet Begonias” which was first released in 1974. The song features memorable lyrics such as “Once in a while, you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right”, which have captured the hearts of fans for decades. The song is a fan favorite and continues to be played on classic rock radio stations nationwide.

The lyrics of “Scarlet Begonias” tell the story of a man who meets a woman with scarlet begonias in her hair and is captivated by her beauty. The song has a smooth and catchy melody that makes it impossible not to sing along. The popularity of the song has also given scarlet begonias a place in popular culture and has helped to make them an iconic flower.

Besides its appearance in the Grateful Dead’s music, scarlet begonias have also been mentioned in other songs. The song “Soul Kitchen” by The Doors includes the lyric “Like to help you in there, but I cannot grow my ten feet tall, just like the people that you meet in scarlet begonias.” The association between the flower and music continues with the song “Scarlet Begonias” by Sublime, released in 1992.

All in all, scarlet begonias have left an indelible mark on popular culture, thanks in large part to their appearance in classic rock music, especially the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias.” Their vibrant appearance and unique characteristics have made them a favorite among music lovers and garden enthusiasts alike.

Growing Scarlet Begonias Indoors

If you live in a colder climate or simply want to enjoy the beauty of scarlet begonias year-round, growing them indoors is an excellent option. The begonia plant family features a wide range of hybrid varieties that are well-suited for indoor cultivation.

Indoor Care Requirements

When growing scarlet begonias indoors, it is important to mimic their natural outdoor conditions as much as possible. They prefer a bright, airy location with partial shade and protection from direct sunlight.

The ideal temperature range is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with consistent humidity levels of around 50%. It is important to avoid exposing begonias to drafts and sudden temperature changes.

Recommended Varieties

There are several begonia plant varieties that are particularly well-suited for indoor growing. Rex begonias feature striking foliage with intricate patterns and vibrant colors, while angel wing begonias produce delicate flowers and glossy leaves.

For a more compact option, consider the wax begonia. This variety features thick succulent leaves and produces abundant blooms in shades of red, pink, and white.


Scarlet begonias are a stunning addition to any garden or indoor space, and with proper care and attention, they will reward you with vibrant blooms year after year. By understanding the characteristics and meaning of scarlet begonias, choosing the right varieties, and following planting, watering, fertilizing, and maintenance tips, you can cultivate a flourishing display that will be the envy of your neighborhood.

Don’t forget to explore creative ways to incorporate scarlet begonias into your landscaping and to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. With a little patience and dedication, you can enjoy the beauty and cultural significance of these lovely plants.

Thank you for reading this comprehensive care guide and blooming tips for scarlet begonias. We hope that you have found it helpful and informative, and we encourage you to share your experiences and questions in the comments section below. Happy gardening!


How often should I water my scarlet begonias?

Scarlet begonias should be watered regularly, ensuring the soil is kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. In general, watering once or twice a week is sufficient, but the frequency may vary depending on the climate and humidity levels.

How do I fertilize my scarlet begonias?

It is recommended to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for blooming plants. Follow the package instructions for application rates and frequency. Generally, fertilizing every two to four weeks during the growing season will promote healthy growth and abundant blooms.

How do I propagate scarlet begonias?

There are several methods to propagate scarlet begonias, including division, stem cuttings, and leaf cuttings. Division involves separating overcrowded plants into smaller sections and replanting them. Stem and leaf cuttings can be taken from healthy plants and placed in a suitable rooting medium until they develop roots.

How can I prevent pests and diseases in my scarlet begonias?

To prevent pests, regularly inspect your plants for any signs of infestation, such as aphids or spider mites. Use organic insecticides or soapy water to control them. Regarding diseases, ensure proper air circulation, avoid overwatering, and remove any infected leaves promptly. Fungal diseases can be prevented by applying a fungicide as directed.

Can scarlet begonias be grown indoors?

Yes, scarlet begonias can be grown indoors as houseplants. Choose compact varieties suitable for indoor environments and provide them with bright, indirect light. Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level, and ensure proper watering and fertilizing to keep your indoor scarlet begonias healthy.

What are the lyrics meaning of “Scarlet Begonias” by the Grateful Dead?

“Scarlet Begonias” is a popular song by the Grateful Dead. The lyrics describe a playful encounter between the narrator and a woman named Scarlet Begonias. The song’s meaning is open to interpretation, but it often represents the spontaneity and beauty of life’s fleeting moments.

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