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Begonia ‘Little Brother Montgomery’ is a real showstopper. Photo: Annie’s Annuals & Perennials

The world of begonias is mind-bending. There are more than 1500 species or cultivars and at least nine accepted groupings of the genus, each one worthy of its own library of publications. Amazingly, begonias are widespread between 15 degrees north and 15 degrees south latitude—yet conservation is needed as many native species are endangered.

Begonias exhibit a staggering variety in form, including some that are succulent or epiphytic. Breeders have tinkered with begonias almost more than any other common plant. Somehow, this genus manages to contain within its horticultural borders everything we find curious, absorbing, obsession-making, and downright delightful about gardening.

The “big guys” in the genus—the shrub and cane begonias—are a beguiling group I find worthy of a collector’s passion.

Cane Begonias

Cane begonias derive their common name from the slender, bamboo-like stems that are common to the species in this group. They have woody, fibrous roots and often stay evergreen in mild climates....

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