By Gary Wade
University of Georgia
Dragon Wing begonia was introduced by Pan American Seed Company in 2000. It soon received rave reviews from California to Florida.
A hybrid cross between anglewing begonia and wax begonia, Dragon Wing offers the best qualities of both plants. It grows denser and larger than most anglewing types and has the heat tolerance of wax begonias.
Dragon Wing begonias grow 12 to 15 inches tall and 15 to 18 inches wide. Leaves are wing-shaped, 2 to 5 inches long and dark, glossy green.
Low maintenancePlants tend to branch readily and grow dense without pruning. Two flower colors, red and pink, are available. The flowers grow on stalks, called panicles. They grow from the leaf nodes near the tip of each branch. The flowers shed naturally as new ones take their place, so the plants look neat all summer.
Planted in the landscape, Dragon Wing begonia does best in filtered shade and well-drained soils enriched with organic matter.
For best results, plant on a raised bed, 4 to 6 inches above the normal grade. To build up the bed, place 4 inches of compost or well-rotted animal manure on the planting area and till it in to a 12-inch depth.
Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Put a tablespoon of Osmocote fertilizer in the planting hole below each plant. Mulching and thoroughly watering are the final tasks to get the summer show under way.
Feed oftenLike other fibrous begonias, Dragon Wing begonias are heavy feeders. They'll benefit from a liquid feed such as 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 applied every two weeks during the growing season.
The award-winning summer annual gives a spectacular showing when combined with tropical plants having bold foliage, such as bananas, cannas, gingers and tibouchinas.
A single plant will fill a 10-inch hanging basket and five plants will fill a whisky barrel, so give them plenty of room to grow.
When frost threatens, Dragon Wing begonias can be cut back, dug and repotted to overwinter indoors. You can root cuttings in water and pot them, too. Given plenty of bright light and occasional liquid feedings, they'll keep up their award-winning performance indoors all winter.
(Gary Wade is an Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)