With their clusters of showy flowers, Begonias occupy a place of pride in any garden, indoors or outdoors. So, it is indeed frustrating when your begonia is all leaves and no flowers.
Begonias may produce only leaves and no flowers if the plants do not receive adequate light, water, and nutrients. They stop blooming when stressed by overwatering, too much sunshine, and cold temperatures. Failing to deadhead your begonias also slows down flowering.
Before attempting to fix the issue, you must know what inhibits flowering in begonias. In this article, I will explain why begonias stop flowering and how to make your begonias bloom more.
Why Begonias Don’t Bloom
It is easy to keep begonias alive. However, they are notoriously fickle about producing flowers. You must fulfill several environmental conditions before your plant blooms its head off.
So, first, let’s understand why begonias don’t bloom. The following are some common reasons:
Your Begonia Has Wet Feet
Begonias originate in the tropical regions of the world that receive ample rainfall. These plants thrive when they receive plenty of moisture.
However, like most plants, they hate standing in water. Waterlogged conditions are typically due to the soil not draining well or overwatering.
Sitting in consistently soggy soil can cause root rot and make the plant vulnerable to pest attacks. An unhealthy begonia is too stressed and focuses its energy on surviving and healing instead of producing flowers.
The Soil Is Too Dry
Begonias need constant water to thrive. The plant is stressed and fails to produce blooms if the soil is too dry.
Dry soil can be caused by:
- High summer temperature
- Inadequate watering
- Dry ambient air, such as that in winter months when we crank up the room heater
- A porous planter like one made of terracotta
- Potting mix that drains too well, such as one that contains excess sand
There Is Too Little or Too Much Light
Begonias thrive and produce abundant blooms when they receive the right amount of sunlight.
It needs sunlight to flower but can get stressed if it receives direct sunlight for too long or if you expose it to the scorching afternoon sun in summer.
However, begonias also do not produce blooms if kept in the shade.
It Is Too Hot or Too Cold for Your Begonias
Begonias are tropical plants that grow well in warm, humid climates. They can tolerate temperatures down to 72°F (22°C). They will survive in slightly lower temperatures but usually don’t flower.
Begonias do not tolerate frost.
If exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period, a begonia plant can go into a heat shock and stop blooming.
The Plant Is Not Receiving the Food It Needs To Bloom
Begonias survive and produce lots of green leaves but no flowers if you feed the plant too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Nitrogen encourages lush foliage growth.
It would be best to feed flowering plants like begonias a fertilizer that contains a balanced mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Phosphorus promotes flowering and fruiting, and a lack of blooms in your begonia can indicate a deficiency of this element in the soil.
On the other hand, over-fertilizing can burn the plant roots or make the stems leggy. The result—our begonia’s growth stalls, or the stems topple over, and there are no flowers.
Your Begonia Species May Influence Flowering Behavior
There is a variety of begonia species, and some have different requirements for blooming conditions. Depending on your species, you may not be meeting the needs of your particular species. For example:
- Wax begonias are not affected by day length in blooming, although their daily light levels influence their flowering.
- Tuberous begonias are long-day plants, requiring day lengths over 12 hours to stimulate flowering.
- Reiger begonias prefer short days to promote flowering, so covering your plants from natural light may be an option when encouraging your plant to bloom.
- Cane begonias are less affected by day length, but shorter day lengths can enhance flower growth.
Tips To Make Begonias Bloom
Make your begonias bloom by taking care of their essential needs: light, water, and food. Read on as I explain how you can create the ideal growing environment for your begonias.
1. Plant Your Begonias in Well-Draining Soil
Begonias require well-draining soil to thrive and blossom. If you grow your begonia in a pot, use a store-bought potting mix or make your own at home.
Potting mixes are light and airy and strike the right balance between retaining water and promoting drainage. Potting mixes keep the soil moist for longer without causing waterlogging.
You can make a potting mix for your begonia at home using:
- Peat moss
- Environmentally-friendly coco coir.
Mix these ingredients in equal parts to make your potting medium.
Perlite and vermiculite are expensive horticultural ingredients. You can use coarse builder’s sand, parboiled rice hulls, or leaf mold instead to aerate the soil and improve drainage.
DO NOT use garden soil in your potting mix. These soils tend to be heavy and clayey and can cause waterlogging.
Learn more about how to prevent indoor plant soil from staying wet in my article: What to Do When Indoor Plant Soil Stays Wet
2. Provide Your Begonia Adequate Light
Begonias are shade-loving plants. Too much exposure to direct sunlight can burn them and reduce blooming.
However, begonias still need 4-6 hours of direct light to produce flowers. You should expose them only to early morning or late afternoon sun, especially if you live in an area with hot, scorching summers.
If you live in a sunny area, choose begonia varieties that can tolerate more sun. For instance, the Cocktail series of wax begonias with their characteristic bronze leaves and the Solenia series of tuberous begonias do not wilt and wither under a hot sun.
However, I recommend that you place even sun-tolerant begonias under the shade of a larger and bushier plant or in a shaded portion of the porch if you live in an area with brutal summers. Draw the curtains to allow only filtered light to come in during the hottest part of the day.
3. Water Sufficiently, but DO NOT Overwater Your Begonias
Overwatering begonias harms them more than keeping the soil a little dry.
Begonias prefer consistently and evenly moist soils. However, they detest wet feet. Keep the following tips in mind when watering begonias:
- Ensure that the planter has enough drainage holes at the bottom.
- Make sure soil clumps do not block the drainage holes.
- Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch a few inches below the topsoil.
- Check moisture levels by poking your finger a few inches into the soil.
- Water to thoroughly soak the soil until water runs out from the bottom of the planter.
- DO NOT let the soil go bone dry before watering.
- Water at the bottom of the plant and just above the soil level.
- DO NOT water the leaves because wet leaves attract pests and mold.
- Avoid letting water stagnate in the drainage saucer.
4. Feed Your Begonias Regularly With the Right Food
Begonias are heavy feeders. Those in containers are more so because they quickly deplete the nutrients in the soil.
However, you must feed your begonias the food that promotes flowering. A plant food high in phosphorus is ideal for encouraging abundant blooms in your begonias, such as the Miracle-Gro Blooming Houseplant Food or Dr. Earth Organic Bud & Bloom Booster (both available on Amazon.com).
Whatever plant food you choose for your begonias, remember to feed according to the dosage and frequency prescribed on the package. Too much fertilizer can burn the plant roots and stall flowering.
Water the plant well before applying solid fertilizer.
5. Deadhead Regularly
It would be best to deadhead your begonias regularly to keep your plant flowering.
Flowers bloom, fade and go to seed as part of a plant’s natural life cycle. When you let spent flowers remain on the plant, the plant spends its energy creating seeds.
Deadheading frees up the plant’s energies that it can then use to produce more flowers.
The key to making begonias produce more flowers is growing them in an environment miming their natural habitat. You must shower extra dollops of TLC if you grow them in pots. However, the spectacular and colorful displays merit effort and attention.