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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dragon Wing or Angel Wing?

Begonia is a huge genus containing hundreds if not thousands of species. Do you know the difference between angel wing and dragon wing begonia? I have seen them labeled differently in plant stores and on the Internet.

I certainly don't know for sure but it makes no matter to me. I've heard them all called "hardy begonia."

Makes more sense to me to call the lighter green one on the right angel wing and the darker jagged leaf on the left dragon wing. But then again, names of plants don't always make sense. Of course if anyone officially knows the answer I'd be happy to know too.

My experience with these exotic types of hardy begonia began when my neighbor shared a cutting with me. It was a bare, thick, sturdy branch measuring about 2'.

That was about 6 years ago. Back when I was a fairly impatient gardener. Realizing how much I love propogating from cuttings now it is hard to believe I hardly had any inclination for it just that short time ago. Seasons in life change and I've grown very happy about that one cutting. I did "stick" that bare branch into the ground up next to the oak tree visible in the above photo. It must have received some ample rain because I paid no attention to it until one day when I noticed the 4' tall stalk blooming and it was then that I was reminded it had been put there a few months prior. I staked that drooping branch and that's when my love affair with these easy growers began.

From there, I began making cuttings for container plants. Anytime I needed another tall interest in a new pot, I would literally cut off a branch and "stick" it in the pot. The container above is on the back pool deck. It reminds me of an "island planting" ... something you might see in a very tropical location. It has both types of begonia growing side by side with purple queen trailing up and down, some variegated ivy and liriope in the back of the pot. This plant is massive and the stalks of begonia stand over 5' tall.

The glossy green leaves of angel wing are a beautiful contrast to the blush pink flowers uniquely draping and dripping out from underneath nearly every set of leaves. Once it begins blooming profusely in May or June, it continues until the end of the year. But truthfully, even in the quieter months it will have "some" blooms.

The dragon wing and angel wing both work great in filtered sun/partial shade. In partial shade, the look is lush, tropical and exotic.

I bought two dragon wing begonias as small plants last year for containers. They don't bloom as profusely but when they do it is a lighter pinky-white. When they got too big for the containers I decided to try them in the ground. I really wasn't sure how they would survive the sun, the heat and the humidity without the protection of the patio where they were initially. They have done quite beautifully and have proven they can take the heat of our hottest months. With the same propogation methods of "sticking" branches into the ground I now have them planted in containers and some in the ground.

The dragon wing above is planted in the ground. I'm especially fond of the ruffly form on the thick, deep green, polka-dotted leaves and the deep red on the underside peeking out at the curves of the leaves. Coupled next to persian shield, indian hawthorne, red pentas, and caladiums the overall combination is a tropical feast for the eyes.

Another begonia (above) given to me by another neighbor years ago survived many years of neglect. Now I adore it as it trails over the boundaries on the walkway entrance to my front door. I have absolutely no idea the name of this one and it has never bloomed. The leaves are 6-7' in diameter...

... and this is the underside of them viewing them from the other direction. I don't know if they are supposed to bloom but the foliage makes me happy enough.

There is one more exotic style begonia I recently received in the mail from Susan. After I drooled all over her blog about the Lotus begonia when she featured it blooming on her blog, she graciously dug this guy up and mailed it to me. Gardeners are the nicest people! Just last week I transplanted it into this new container garden. It is a shallow bowl measuring 38" x 12". The container of lemon lime dracaena, anthurium, black magic taro, coleus, and persian shield when filled in should make a nice exotic combination.


  1. Beautiful meems! I grow one begonia here...a hardy begonia~~ B grandis. Not a particularly showy plant but it has that wonderful red coloration on the backside that just glows in the right light! Yours are what we would call tropical and exotic! They are lovely and look so delightful in your garden! Even without the flowers they have enough texture and color. I still marvel that you can stick a cutting into the soil and it grows! Wow!


  2. i have fond memories of that beautiful begonia on the patio. i still have a photo of it with my feet up and flip flops on in those chairs on the front of my phone. i want to recall those few days of leisure in and around your garden and pool. these pictures are great and you are so blessed to have such great soil. did you want to be a dear and ship some to me(soil)? hehe!

  3. The foliage on those begonias is lovely. Their texture & color is pretty amazing and the blooms are just icing on the cake. :)

  4. Beautiful! You're such an inspiration! I reckon begonias are my favourite house plants, but I only have one that I shamefully neglect. I'm thinking it might just get some friends soonly. 8-]

  5. I got tickled when you called these 'hardy' begonias. Hardy to your area, but sadly not to ours.(5b) I have both the angel wings and the dragon wings. And I am beginning to suspect-like you-it depends upon the grower what they are called. My angel wings are a pink color bloom with smaller green leaves and the dragon has red blooms with a slightly darker and bigger green leaf. My fondness of them came about a few years ago when they were new. They are such prolific bloomers and so different than the commercial planting types. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them every year. Maybe, I will try to bring them in this fall and over winter them in the house. All of yours are beautiful and you have created such a lush tropical garden with them and all your other plants. Ahhh! Paradise!

  6. My favorite hanging begonia is called Illumination by Proven Winners. It gets to 36 long and blooms continually. I also like Angel Wing. I'm hoping I get my back beds in shape this year for next year's batch of these beauties. Great write up and I enjoyed learning the difference. I sure couldn't have told you.

  7. Hi Meems, I'm sure no begonia expert - I just know I love 'em.

    I thought the speckled ones were the angel wings and the shiny, solid green ones were the dragon wings.

    As if it's not confusing enough, the way it was explained to me, dragon wing is a type of angel wing. They're both really angel wings, even though one is also called dragon wing. Sheesh! That's about when my eyes started glazing over, especially since the solid green leaves are the ones that to me, look most like angel wings. (or more accurately, like I imagine angel wings to be.)

    I'm glad I'm not the only one growing them who's not quite sure what they're supposed to be called no matter what the label said.

    Whatever they are, yours are sure huge, and beautiful!

  8. Meems I love your begonias, we grow them as house plants but I suspect that a lot would survive our mild winters. The trouble is that these plants are rarely marked with names so it is a case of trial and error. I have been meaning to take a cutting of our house begonia and try it outside - next year!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  9. gail: Thank you! For the first time... recently I've started 'sticking' some cuttings in starter pots - you know the old fashioned way vs. sticking them right in the garden where I will wait for them to mature- and then when they are more mature I can transplant them (or give them away). Both ways are fun and both ways work - most of the time. Certainly not all plants work this way but I'm constantly experimenting with the ones that do because I'm kind of lazy in that respect. When something can be stuck in the ground to propogate... it will be seen in repetition throughout my garden.

    nancy: Thank you... You must be thinking the porch plant is a hanging basket? Actually, all the plants featured here are in pots or the ground... but you have given me a good idea to try.

    marmee: I've had to trim back all the porch plants since you were here and I've moved those chairs further away from the billowing begonia. It was getting to the point we couldn't see each other when sitting in our favorite evening spot.

    Would love to get you started with some of the potting soil my little garden center sells. Maybe next time you are down here in your own car...

    perennial gardener: I'm a BIG fan of the texture and color too. It was the characteristic that attracted me to the darker one in the first place and it has been that factor that keeps me propogating it in so many places in my garden.

  10. i like begonias. and i agree, in my experience, gardeners ARE the nicest people. :o)

  11. sophiemae: If you can grow begonias indoors then you are doing better than me... I wouldn't even attempt it... no flowering plant seems to be able to take the cooler temps of the a/c around here.

    Beckie: I checked again at my local garden center before writing this post to see what terms they used... they are opposite of what I see on the Internet... I'm sure somewhere along the way there is a correct ID. It has never mattered to me so much what a thing is called... it matters more to me what growing conditions to be aware of... but then again I'm not a professional. It would be interesting to try to over winter your begonias then it wouldn't make a difference if your center carried them the next spring.

    anna: I googled your PW Illuminations... seems it comes in many variety of colors. It is the type seen in most of the centers that is typically used as a border plant I think. We see them around town in massive commercial plantings.

    garden girl: You are right... I've seen them labeled that way as well.I'm glad you "cleared" that up for us about dragon wings really being angel wings. :-) Seriously, your explanation is probably exactly why there is so much confusion about them... dragon wings are really a type of angel wings... makes sense right? HA!

    Do you grow yours in the ground too?

    Sylvia: I vote for you trying your house plant outdoors... do let me know if it works for you.

  12. s/s/m: You must have left your sweet comment while I was replying... didn't mean to overlook...

    I'm so thrilled to know you like begonias. No, I won't be giving you one for your next birthday or anything (so you don't have to worry) but still it's nice to hear from you what you like in the garden.

  13. Do you have any 'sticks' you would like to give away? What could one lose if it is just to 'stick' a cutting in the pot or the ground? I am willing to try that since my garden is almost exclusively patio pots. The price is right for me and no mailing costs for you! Then, if it would only grow and bloom for me the way yours do! Lovely!

  14. Hi Meems...The lotus begonia looks great. I knew it would thrive under your care. Thanks for including it in your post, so I could see it.

  15. I am loving the pink angel wing begonia. Everything looks lush.

  16. Meems, I grow them in pots since they're not hardy here. I haven't had them in a couple of years, but got some this spring. I have the the ones with the solid green foliage. I love 'em! They're blooming like crazy. I plan to overwinter them in my basement "greenhouse," and will probably try propagating them over the winter too.

  17. Hello Meems;

    The begonias reminded me of perhaps 30 years ago when I began a collection to get me through Vermont winters. A had a couple that a farm lady gave me and on I went from there.

    There is a lady on the hosta list who knows the perennial (hardy outside types) begonias very well. She lives in Tennessee and grows marvelous hostas --"marvelous" as in some of the best in the universe. There's also a very old greenhouse in Connecticut named Logee's which was always known for begonias. Try

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Gardens
    Vermont Flower Farm

  18. Mom aka Seniorgardener: Of course! Why didn't we think of it before? They will be perfect for your patio area. I'll even give you some I have already potted up.

    susan: I had it in a 5" clay pot since I received it making sure it was acclimated. Also I knew I wanted to place it in the new container. It is in the front garden and I can see it to the right of driveway upon entry and exit. I will be looking for a bloom next April or May.

    Mother Nature: With a name like yours I suspect you might know the correct ID! :-)

    Linda: I think I remember seeing some in your pots on your post (something like) "from where I sit"??? I'll have to come over and take a peek again to see if I remember correctly.

    George Africa: Thanks for the ideas on the link... I'll try it out to see if I can get some official information.

  19. I love your begonia photos. Where I live begonias are grown as annuals and I've often wished they could survive as perennials.

  20. I gave up on begonias recently, but this post is enough to make me want to give it a-go again.

  21. Hi Meems....your begonias are stunning.....and some flower to the end of the wonderful to live in a climate that gives you such an extended season.....
    Lovely photography.......

  22. Oh my stars! I want my garden to look like that....I have a couple of wax begonias and a piece of one I am starting that my mom in law gave me. I saw the persian sheild in the background of one of your on those please? I struggle with few plants, that is one of them. Thanks

  23. Amy: Good to see you getting around... begonias are typically grown as annuals. It's just that in our climate most things that grow as annuals--- if it likes the humidity--- will act more like a perennial. Thanks for stopping by.

    WG: Definitely don't give up. Although if you are referring to the fuzzy-leafed type sold in the garden centers I don't blame you. Those can be cantankerous even in our climate. Give the angel (or dragon) wing a try in partial sun and see how you like them. If I were you, I'd start with one in a potted plant and go from there.

    Cheryl: Thank you... flowering through the winter is definitely the upside to living here. There are downsides like the unbearable sauna-like heat in August. :-)

    Darla: Thanks and welcome to Hoe & Shovel. Persian Shield likes filtered sun. It will stop growing in the winter and you may have to cut it back to the ground but it will hardily come back in the spring. I keep mine pruned as it gets too leggy and I like to have them tucked behind another plant so the sparse trunk doesn't show. Right now I have several cuttings started in 6" pots to transplant in the fall when it gets a little cooler. Just cut the tips off and put them in the potting mix, keep them moist and voila you will have as many plants as you need.

  24. Love the flowers on that pink begonia...beautiful!

  25. Hi. Found your post here this evening...and I had just read THIS and wondered if you had read it yet. It talks about all the different species and hybrids of Dragon and Angel wing Begonias. Interesting, and confusing.

  26. I am so envious!! The plant on your pool deck is absolutely gorgeous. How did you grow it so big? Do you bring it inside in winter, or are the Florida winters mild enough that it remains outside? And what about the begonias in your garden? Do they die down and then grow back each year or what?


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