Dragon Wing Begonia, also known by the common names of:
- Begonia ‘Dragon Wing Red‘
- Dragon Red Wing Begonia
- Cane Begonia
… and is a perennial flowering hybrid species of the family Begoniaceae.
Professionally known by the scientific name begonia x hybrida ‘Dragon Wings’, the plant was first grown in South America and is prized for its lush green foliage and colorful flowers.
Another reason for the Dragon’s popularity is its high tolerance for heat and humidity.
Dragon-wing begonias are often confused with the Angel-wing begonia.
While both of them qualify as cane begonias and both are hybrid varieties, they are different plants.
The leaves are the key to identifying the difference between the two varieties.
Angel-wing begonia has spots or a frosted pattern on the leaves, whereas the leaves of dragon wings do not vary. You’ll find both at local garden centers.
Dragon Wing Begonia Care
Size & Growth
Dragon wing begonias grow vigorously but don’t grow very high – the maximum height is about 2’ feet.
This plant is known for its shiny and dark green attractive leaves, which are wing-shaped and long, often growing up to 8” inches.
It is very easy to grow and typically forms a bushy mound. Give this begonia plenty of room to grow.
Flowering and Fragrance
Dragon red-wing begonia produces clusters of small tuberous (bell-like) scarlet-red flowers from late spring to fall (till the beginning of frost season), further enhancing the plant’s attractiveness.
The long blooming period and the production of showy flowers in abundant quantities, even during scorching summers, are reasons why dragon wing begonia is a highly popular garden plant.
Light & Temperature
This begonia hybrid species is heat-tolerant and continues to bloom and add color to landscapes even during blazing temperatures.
However, it cannot tolerate much cold and is winter hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
When grown in other USDA zones, it is recommended to dig up the dragon wing begonias before the beginning of the frost season or bring the containers indoors.
Store the plants in a dormant condition in a cool and dry place through the winter season.
While the cane begonia handles sun or shade and can easily tolerate full sun, it is recommended to provide it with partial shade, particularly when the temperature is very high.
An ideal site to grow the cane begonia variety is one where it gets some afternoon shade, good air circulation, and protection from strong winds.
Just like the red-wing begonia can tolerate full sun, it can survive in full shade, but it will have an effect on flowering.
The hybrid Dragon wing grows the best and produces more flowers when it continues to get bright, indirect sunlight (part sun) year-round.
Watering and Feeding
Begonia ‘Dragon Wing Red’ prefers moist soil, so water the soil adequately and regularly enough to maintain the soil moisture.
However, make sure not to over-water.
When it comes to watering dragon red wing begonia, watering less is better than over-watering because the plant is somewhat drought tolerant.
The rule of thumb for watering dragon begonias is to let the top 2″ – 3” inches of soil get dry between waterings.
Feed your dragon begonia with a diluted (by half) balanced liquid fertilizer once every two weeks during the spring and summer seasons.
Reduce fertilizing to once a month in fall and winter.
To avoid fertilizer burn, always fertilize plants when their soil is moist.
Soil & Transplanting
Red begonias thrive in light, rich, moist, and well-draining soil.
Regarding soil types, loamy and sandy soils are the best choices for growing the dragon wing.
As mentioned above, the dragon prefers moist soil but doesn’t like soggy soil.
Therefore, in addition to preventing over-watering, ensure the soil is well-draining.
With regard to soil pH, the plant prefers soil with acidic or neutral pH.
Grooming and Maintenance
Dragon wings are not only easy to grow but are also trouble-free and hence, easy to maintain.
It doesn’t need any grooming or maintenance, not even deadheading.
Propagating Dragon Wing Begonias
While the begonia dragon wing produces seeds, they are sterile.
The best and simplest way to propagate Begonia ‘Dragon Wing Red’ is through stem cuttings.
Take about 3” to 4” inches long tip cuttings from the non-flowering stems in spring or early summer and root them in a moist sterile potting mix.
The division is another method for propagating dragon wings.
But, for this, you need to have multi-stemmed plants.
Examine the base of all your dragon wing begonias and choose the one with more than one base stem.
Dig up the plant, separate the stems, and replant them individually.
Dragon Wing Pest or Diseases
Wing begonias are prone to mealybugs, and whitefly pest infestations.
It can sometimes get affected by chewing insects, root rot (overwatering) and powdery mildew, but they hardly ever go beyond control.
Avoid over-watering or planting in poorly draining soil, as wet soils can lead to root rot.
Red wing begonia attracts hummingbirds but is deer and rabbit resistant.
Dragon Wing Begonia Uses
Due to its ease of growth, low maintenance, beautiful clusters of flowers, colorful blossoms, and long blooming period, dragon begonia is widely grown in gardens, parks, and as a houseplant.
While they are planted anywhere, they particularly make great displays when grown in beds and borders, pergolas, patios, and window boxes, hanging baskets.