Begonia flowers have been gardeners’ best friends for a long time because of their attractive blooms and sweet scent. They also served as portals to the beauty of planting to many because of their easy-to-care nature.
But there’s more to these flowers than just their color and appearance. Not only are they eye candies, but they also hold several meanings that range from love and peace to caution and misfortune.
In this article, we’ll discuss the meanings behind begonia flowers, what each color symbolizes, and what cultural significance you have to remember to make sure your next floral gift will touch the heart of the recipient!
How did the begonia flower get its name?
Begonia’s name is derived from the last name of French politician and naturalist Michel Begon.
Begon was an avid plant collector and became friends with Charles Plumier, the French botanist who discovered begonia flowers, during the latter’s stay in the Antilles.
Michel Begon was the one who introduced and recommended Plumier as head plant collector in the Caribbean to King Louis XIV, which led to many opportunities for Plumier to explore the world and discover different plants.
When Plumier discovered begonia flowers in 1690, he named them after Begon as a form of gratitude and recognition for his contributions to Plumier’s career.
What is the botanical origin of the begonia flower?
Begonia is a genus of flowering plant and is one of the two genera of the Begoniaceae family. It was first documented in Brazil when Charles Plumier discovered them.
However, it’s been proven that the flower was used in Mexico before Plumier’s discovery and in China in the 14th century.
There are over 2000 species in the genus, many of which are cultivated for their ornamental value.
Where do begonia flowers grow?
Begonia flowers prefer tropical and subtropical climates, so they mostly grow in Central and South America. However, due to their popularity, they are now grown in almost all countries around the world.
In countries with harsh winters, begonia plants are often grown as annuals or are placed indoors to shield them from extreme weather conditions.
Do begonia flowers require maintenance?
Begonias are relatively low-maintenance plants, making them popular choices for both experienced and novice gardeners. However, providing them with basic care and proper humidity is still important.
Do begonia flowers need shade or sun?
Begonia flowers thrive in bright, indirect light, as their leaves can be burned if exposed to direct sunlight for hours.
This makes them perfect for indoor growing, as the filtered light they’ll receive indoors will be enough to keep them healthy and alive.
When do begonia flowers bloom?
Begonia flowers typically bloom from spring until the first frost in fall. This may change depending on the species and the surrounding environment of the begonia.
What kind of soil do begonia flowers prefer?
Begonia flowers prefer nutrient-rich and well-draining soil. They may suffer from root rot if there’s too much moisture in the soil, so adding ingredients that can improve the soil’s draining properties is essential.
Perlite and vermiculite are among the best components that can help make the soil more suitable for the begonia flowers’ needs.
When is the best time to plant begonia flowers?
Begonias are sensitive to cold, so the best time to plant them is in late spring after the last frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. Some regions may have to wait until summer if it’s still cold during spring.
What do begonia flowers mean?
Begonia flowers carry both positive and negative symbolism, so caution is essential when gifting them to someone.
Begonia flowers generally stand for harmony, peace, justice, gratitude, individuality, and love. However, they’re also used to symbolize caution and misfortune.
Flowers were frequently used in the past to reconcile with enemies or to express a desire for a harmonious relationship. One example of this is when Japan gave newly cultivated begonia flowers to North Korea to solidify their relationship.
This is why begonia flowers are often viewed as a symbol of harmony, peace, and justice.
They were also used to convey deep gratitude and deep love, making them perfect wedding anniversary gifts.
That said, the flowers were also widely used as gifts during hospital visits. They are used to remind friends and loved ones to take care of themselves and be cautious of different situations that may bring them misfortune.
The color of the flower and the cultural background of the recipient play a massive role in identifying what meaning they’ll perceive from the flowers, so be extra cautious when gifting it.
What do the colors of begonia flowers mean?
|White||White begonias are often associated with purity and innocence. Their pristine appearance can symbolize the purity and kindness of one’s soul.
Recommended Use: These flowers are the perfect decoration for baby showers and weddings.
|Yellow||Yellow begonias have a bright and cheerful appearance, so they’re often associated with happiness, wealth, and positivity.
That said, some cultures may view them differently. In Africa, for example, they’re considered symbols of death.
Recommended Use: Yellow begonias are ideal gifts for a friend or loved one who’s celebrating a birthday. Just make sure they’re not of African descent to avoid any misunderstanding.
|Red||Red begonias, just like many red flowers, are frequently associated with deep love, romance, and passion.
But be careful, though, as some may see it as a rejection of their love. This is because some countries like Colombia and Venezuela associate flowers with rejection.
Recommended Use: Your spouse will surely be happy if you wake them up with a bouquet of red begonias on your anniversary. Slip in a note expressing your love for them to make the gift even more special.
|Pink||While red begonias are used to represent deep love, pink begonias represent a love that’s relatively new. They’re frequently used to symbolize infatuation and affection.
Recommended Use: Pink begonias are the perfect first date gifts, as they express gentleness and affection.
|Purple||Purple has historically been used to symbolize nobility. This is why purple begonias are still widely used to represent respect, nobility, and royalty.
Recommended Use: Purple begonias can be great birthday gifts for your mother or grandmother. They’ll help you express your respect for them.
What are the cultural associations of the begonia flower?
|China||In China, begonias are believed to bring good luck and fortune. Hence, they’re often given as gifts during Lunar New Year.
Additionally, begonia flowers are seen as symbols of femininity and beauty. In fact, the flowers were once called “the flower concubine” because of their beautiful and delicate appearance.
Begonia flowers are also associated with bravery because of the animated film Big Fish & Begonia.
The film is led by Chun, a young girl who wants to save the soul of Kun, her friend who died while saving her.
In the film, Chun’s grandfather sacrifices his life to save the life of Qiu, Chun’s friend. His soul became a begonia tree after he promised to take care of the two.
Chun also later sacrificed herself to save her town from the flood. Her soul merged with her grandfathers in the begonia tree.
The film’s popularity led many to associate begonia trees and flowers with bravery.
|North Korea||In North Korea, begonia flowers, specifically the kimjongilia variety, are seen as symbols of peace, justice, wisdom, and love.
The variety was cultivated by Japanese botanist Kamo Mototeru in honor of Kim Jong Il’s 46th birthday. The flower became a symbol of friendship between Japan and North Korea.
When Kim Jong Il died, the flower was used as decoration when his body was shown to the public.
Until today, the flowers are prized and respected in North Korea due to their association with the Dear Leader.
|Africa||Begonia flowers are considered symbols of death and mourning in some regions of Africa.
That’s why flowers are primarily used in funeral arrangements rather than as gifts.
What are the uses of the begonia flower?
Begonias have certain compounds that are believed to have potential benefits. The water where the flowers were boiled was widely used in the past to treat various ailments, including burns, menstrual cramps, flu, and toothaches.
The flowers are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, so they’re helpful in treating bronchitis and rheumatism. These anti-inflammatory properties are also the reason the flower is used to heal skin conditions like rashes and burns.
Moreover, the flower is said to contain anti-virus and anti-bacterial properties that help in curing flu and cough.
However, it’s important to note that some varieties of the flower are toxic to humans, so conduct extensive research on the varieties you have before consuming them.
The flowers are also not a substitute for a doctor’s appointment and should only be used after talking to a professional.
Begonia flowers were first cultivated for their ornamental value. Today, their primary use is still decorating gardens and homes with their stunning and colorful blooms.
Their flowers come in a wide variety of colors, including white, red, pink, yellow, and purple. Some types are also multi-colored, giving the garden a more unique appeal.
The genus has over 2,000 species, so there’s a variety of choices for gardens and homes.
They can be used as stunning bedding plants and ground cover or added as borders for a pathway. There are also varieties, like begonia pendula, that are perfect for hanging baskets.