Rieger Begonia Care: How To Grow Elaitor Begonias

The Elatior Begonia [ee-LAY-tee-or] [be-GON-yuh], aka Rieger begonia, belongs to the Begoniaceae genus, the sixth-largest flowering plant genus in the world.

The original plant (begonia x hiemalis), was a hybrid created by English plant breeder James Veitch in 1883. Two popular begonia species were used in the cross – Begonia socotrana and tuberous begonia.

Close up of orange flowers of Rieger begoniasPin
Orange flowers of Rieger Begonias | icrms7 – DepositPhotos

Begonia socotrana comes from the Scootra (Soqotra) Island off the coast of East Africa. The tuberous begonia came from South America.

They are fast-growing and typically bred to bloom during the winter season and sold as disposable plants; the idea is to enjoy the bloom and throw them out after the season is over. 

Besides the name Elatior and Rieger, these begonias go by other names:

  • Hiemalis Begonias
  • Veitchii Begonias
  • Baardse Begonias
  • Eliator hybrids

They are easy houseplants to care for and feature bright, small, colorful rosettes.

Flowering begonias, also known as Rieger begonias, are beautiful flowering winter plants with creamy blooms in bright yellows, reds, pinks, and even white.

Rieger Begonia Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Begonia x hiemalis ‘Elaitor’
  • Common Name(s): Rieger Begonia, Winter-flowering Begonia
  • Synonyms: Begonia x hiemalis, Begonia x tuberhybrida
  • Family & Origin: Begoniaceae family, hybrid origin
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 8-11
  • Size: Grows up to 12′ inches tall and wide
  • Flowering: Blooms in winter and early spring with pink, red, white, or orange flowers
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: High humidity preferred
  • Temperature: Prefers temperatures between 60-72°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Keep soil moist but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Use high-phosphorous fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and powdery mildew
  • Propagation: Propagated through stem cuttings or leaf tip cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Indoor plant, decorative plant, gift plant

Read on to learn how to get begonias to bloom and more.

Rieger Begonia Care

Size and Growth

The Elatior hybrid begonias are a bushy little variety. It grows a compact set of stems reaching a few feet in height. However, after several years, they can start to grow a bit taller.

To maintain the compact size, trim off the top each spring.

They are frost sensitive and only recommended for outdoor use in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. These zones cover Southern parts of the United States.

Rieger Begonias Are Beautiful Flowering Plants With No Fragrance

Reiger produces large, round flowers with no scent.

The flowers often bloom throughout the year, providing a bright splash of color during each of the seasons.

The flowers are one of the best features.

The vibrant colors include warm red, rose, and yellow.

Light and Temperature

People grow Rieger begonia as houseplants. It requires airy, light, and fast-draining soil and bright but indirect light.

Rieger Begonias needs lots of sunlight. However, avoid direct sunlight. If placed outdoors, find a spot offering partial sun to partial shade.

When grown indoors, set the plant near a window while avoiding south-facing windows with bright or direct sunlight.

It doesn’t like temperatures to be too cold or too hot.

If the temperature drops below 60° degrees Fahrenheit, the leaves and flowers may start to die off. If the temperature increases above 72° degrees Fahrenheit, the buds and flowers may begin to drop.

So, you can keep up the humidity levels by placing the pot on a pebble tray, using a humidifier, or misting the roots. 

Rieger begonia also enjoys fresh air. If you plan to keep it indoors, set it somewhere the plant gets some air movement, a gentle breeze, but not a draft.

For example, set it in a room with a ceiling fan. You can also set a floor fan near it without pointing the airflow at the plant.

The fresh air helps prevent mildew, a common issue with begonias.

Watering and Feeding

Water Elatior regularly throughout the growing season. Container plants shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely. When the soil surface feels dry to the touch, thoroughly water.

Try not to overwater the plant, as this also promotes mildew and root rot.

In the winter, it’s easy to overwater, as the plant doesn’t take up as much water.

In the late fall, switch to a high-phosphorous fertilizer to encourage bigger blooms. Pruning As old flowers are spent, pinch off the flowers to encourage new blooms to open. 

Throughout the blooming season, give the plant liquid fertilizer at half strength or quarter strength once per week.

Too much fertilizer can damage plants, so it’s important to follow the package directions to determine how much and how often to feed plants. Slow-release fertilizers are an especially good, carefree choice for container plants. 

When blooms are not in-season, skip the fertilizer.

Soil and Transplanting

Place Rieger begonia in regular potting soil or peat moss. You only need to transplant if the plant gets too big for its current pot.

NOTE: It is important to use a pot with drainage holes.

Bark mulch is widely used while preparing the growing medium to retain the soil moisture, protect against the invasion my weeds, and keep the roots from rotting. 

Be careful when transplanting, as the move may damage the plant.

Carefully remove the plant from its current pot and set it in the other container filled with soil. Gently add potting soil around the roots and press down to compact the soil.

Flowering plants of rose colored Rieger Begonias | meinaliao – DepositPhotos

Grooming and Maintenance

Cut back Rieger begonia plants after the flowering season to control growth.

Seasonal trimming helps keep the plant short and thick, producing new shoots. Other than trimming and the removal of dead and old flowers, you shouldn’t need to spend any time grooming the plant.

Related: Dragon Wing Begonia Care

How to Propagate Elatior Begonias

Like other begonias, however, the Rieger’s begonia readily propagates from leaf-tip cuttings, so it seems a shame to throw away a plant that wants only for a short dormant period and can be quickly and easily propagated into a host of new plants. 

To grow more Rieger begonia plants, take stem cuttings. The cutting should be about 3″ inches long and taken just under a pair of leaves.

Use a sand/peat mixture. Keep cuttings in an area where temperatures remain at an average – 72° degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid direct sun and cover with a plastic bag with several holes for ventilation.

When the roots form, you can place them in small pots. In about four months, the first blooms should arrive.

Begonia Plants Pests or Disease Problems

The main threats to this plant include mildew, rot, and the common pests – aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies, and scale. If you detect yellow leaves dropping, the plant is getting too much water.

However, you want to avoid misting the leaves as this can cause fungal disease.  You may also start to notice mildew and rot. Cut off any mildew-covered or rotten parts of the plant and limit your watering.

If you notice small spots on the leaves, you may have aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites. Wash away these critters with soapy water or spray the plant with insecticide.

Suggested Use For Elatior ‘Hiemalis’ Begonias

The elatior begonia looks wonderful on a window sill where it can get plenty of indirect sunlight.

In some regions, you may also be able to set up potted plants or in hanging baskets out on a patio or covered porch.

You can grow Rieger begonias year-round and enjoy their blooms next fall.

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