Begoniaceae is the fifth largest angiosperm (seed producing, flowering plants) genus with nearly 2,000 species. It's not surprising then there are many species of Begonia that are not as well known as others. All gardeners will be familiar with the bedding Begonias with bright blooms in the summer and Begonia Rex, grown for its striking foliage rather than its flowers. Begonia luxurians has both attractive foliage and pretty flowers, with the added bonus that the flowers are perfumed. Common names include Palm leaf Begonia and Shrub Begonia.
Begonia luxurians is native to the rain forests of Brazil. It can reach up to 2.5 metres tall, with about the same spread.
The glossy, green leaves are reddish bronze underneath and measure around 30cm across, They are divided into 11-15 long finger-like leaflets radiating from a central point. The leaf petioles are red, as are the branches of this tropical-looking plant.
From spring and through the summer Begonia luxurians will produce loose racemes of white and yellowish flowers which are lightly scented.
Being tropical it won't withstand frosts so it is best to give it plenty of protection in the winter. It will withstand some drought but prefers a moist soil. Allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings and a position with dappled shade is preferable.
Although it can grow to be a giant, it can be kept as a patio plant in a container and trimmed in the autumn. The Palm leaf Begonia, like all Begonias, is easy to propagate and will root easily in water. It can also be grown from seed (there are hybrids available though and seed collected from them may not come true to the parent). It will also root easily through layering and from leaf cuttings.