Bonfire begonia is a type of showy, multi-branched perennial that produces bright blossoms on bushy stems. Like many begonia cultivars, Bonfire begonias require semi-tropical climates with warm temperatures. With proper winterisation, these exotic plants can withstand temperatures as cool as U.S. Department of Agriculture climate zone 7. Healthy Bonfire begonias can return year after year, lighting up the landscape with their vibrant blossoms.
Bonfire begonias exhibit masses of bright, red flowers that begin opening in the late spring. This cultivar continues to produce blossoms throughout the summer. It maintains a compact form in the landscape, growing to an average size of about 16 inches tall and equally wide. The drooping habit of the blossoms make this variety of begonia suitable for growing in hanging baskets or elevated planters.
Bonfire begonias require soil with good drainage. The roots are prone to fungal disorders from standing water and cannot withstand prolonged submersion. Keeping them in their pots encourages good drainage, especially in plants elevated above the surface of the soil. Although many begonias prefer shaded locations, Bonfire begonias thrive in areas with at least eight hours of full sunlight. However, a few hours of afternoon shade, especially in hot climates, helps keep the flowers and foliage looking fresh.
Monthly applications of fertiliser during the active-blossoming phase can help ensure adequate nutrients necessary for producing abundant blossoms. Bonfire begonias need even moisture and benefit from regular watering sessions every four to seven days, especially in arid climates. Powdery mildew, stem rot, mealy bugs, spider mites and scales are some conditions and pests that may plague a Bonfire begonia plant. Close examination and quick treatment with fungicides or pesticides can help protect the plant from extensive damage.
Even in climate zones 8 and 9, potted begonias require some care during the winter. The lack of available soil around their roots leaves them vulnerable to unexpected freezes that may damage the delicate roots. Placing potted Bonfire begonias in a protected area and burying the pots in mounds of mulch, will help insulate their roots. However, in zone 7 or cooler, these plants require a protected, indoor environment during the coldest months of winter. Transporting the potted plants indoors during the winter will guard against plant loss due to cold temperatures. Water the plants infrequently during the winter and avoid feeding them plant food during the dormant season.