I Love The ‘Immense’ Begonia

Mar 1, 2019 | Love This!

Name: Begonia ricinifolia ‘Immense’ aka the Immense Begonia

Type of Plant: Large (yes, the name is accurate) begonia that has interesting hairy stems and clusters of pink flowers in the middle of the winter. 

Why I Love/Hate this plant: Large, bright green leaves, strong growth and lots of flowers from January through March…that alone would be enough to make this a great houseplant. But best of all are the red hair-like clumps on the stems. These almost look prickly from a distance but they are actually quite soft. When this plant is in an eastern or western facing window those red hairs light up in the sunshine, so every day the begonia will make you smile.

A Word to the Wise: Most begonias hate being too wet – they are prone to crown rot when the soil is too damp.

My friend Chris Hestwood gave me a small plant from her begonia – this is an easy one to root from a stem or leaf, so a nice pass-along plant for others. Once it gets too, too large, however, root a new one for yourself and start over.

All winter there are several tall stems of pink flowers on this plant.

My Immense Begonia is in an eastern-facing window so in the early morning the sun illuminates the stems, leaves and flowers. See how the stems look hairy? 

This shows the closeup of the hairs on the stems when the sun isn’t illuminating them. A plant dressed for a party.  

30 Comments

  1. nl

    where did you get yours?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      I got mine from a friend. If you’re in the USA you can order from here: http://www.glasshouseworks.com/begonia-immense-hyb
      Note – I have not ordered from them in the past so I am not endorsing this business…but a quick Google search showed me that they carry this plant and send by mail.

      Reply
      • nl

        unfortunately i’m in california and they want around $40 for shipping alone to send to california. it’s ridiculous. evidently, this is their policy for the entire west coast and nevada – only 3 day ups air shipping. the plant itself is only $12. i might have to just wait until spring when more things are for sale and maybe i’ll catch it on etsy or ebay. thx.

        Reply
  2. Gail Arthur

    I think I have a similar Begonia. I have noticed the bottom leaves leaves are pointing down and turning yellow. What is wrong with it? Thanks.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Gail – this begonia regularly sheds oldest, lower leaves and they yellow and fall away. No worries unless the entire plant is turning yellow. If the top foliage looks green it’s behaving normally.
      C.L.

      Reply
  3. C. E. Terzian

    I bought a one-gallon of this begonia at Green Acres Nursery in N. California for $9.

    Reply
  4. Cheryl Kaiser

    I have two. The momma and her baby. Both in 14” ceramic pots and almost 30 years old. They take up quite a footprint in our house but I love it. Momma has never bloomed and baby gets one pink flower stalk once a year. I’m glad to know the name and the lighting. I think I also overwater. I had gotten from a friend and love to propagate and give away too. Thank you for sharing this article. Very helpful!

    Reply
  5. Kate Henry

    I have three of these from a garage sale. One has 5 stalks of flowers, none on the others. The stems grow sideways and are way out of the pot. When the dirt dries a bit, they fall over. Is there a way to make them grow straight up or is it a losing battle. They are so big they are taking over the room. Can they be put in the ground outside? They put out a lot of seeds. Will the seeds survive the winter in Indiana?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Kate,
      This is definitely a houseplant that takes management! Not hardy outside. When the stems get too long and crazy (as they will) cut off the top 6 to 8 inches and coat it with rooting powder, and plant that piece in a pot of fresh, moist potting soil. Keep it out of direct sun while it roots and you’ll have a shorter, tidier plant for a while. You can combine two or three of these stems in a larger pot if desired. Use clay pots for weight so they don’t tip.

      Reply
  6. Jan Lewis

    I have seen this plant grow to about five foot. Cannot remember how old. It was in an antique store in Colorado. I finally got some leaves to root and just love it. Trying to figure out how to place support for the leaves so they will maintain balance. Love this beautiful plant.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Jan,
      Yes, I can see that if left to grow unchecked that this plant could get 5 feet tall or more! I don’t let mine go for too long that way. Once the stems extend beyond 18″ the plant is a bit too “sprawlly” (not that this is a word) for my house. At that point I cut off a 6″ piece from the ends, use rooting hormone and root that to make a new plant. Sometimes I’ll put two or more cuttings in one pot and it looks pretty full for awhile before it starts to do its funky-stem-sprawl again.

      Reply
  7. Patty Moran

    Would you be able to recommend a good how-to book for the Begonia Immense? I have one and I cannot find anywhere that gives good info for pruning. It finished flowering a couple of months ago and I cannot find anywhere that discusses how to prune after flowering. Do I cut off the whole flower stems or cut them back, or leave them be?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      I don’t know of a book about this plant. Check in with my blog in the months to come – I may post something. In the meantimes, cut flower stems all the way back.

      Reply
      • Paula

        I ought this begonia last July and brought it inside for the Winter. It did fine inside but little growth. I put it on my screened porch for the summer and it loves it and is enormous. I’m bringing it in now for transition but don’t know if I need to prune it. It’s big but stems and leaves are healthy. It did not bloom. What should I do?

        Reply
        • CL Fornari

          Only remove dead or damaged leaves. It’s called “Immense” for a reason – don’t try and make it smaller. They come into bloom indoors in the winter. Place it in an Eastern or western facing window.

          Reply
  8. Loveleen

    Hi – thank god i found someone who has the same plant as mine! I got this as a gift from a friend about 2 year ago – it was doing okay till I re-potted the plant 🙁 Now the stem of my begonia is turning brown and is soft with its leaves falling off (there is only one remaining 🙁 ) I would love it if you could give me some tips to save this plant!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      It might just be suffering from the repotting – but it might also be rot from overwatering. You might be able to save it by cutting off the leaf and putting the LEAF into new, fresh soil after dusting the bottom of that leaf and a bit of the stem that’s on it with rooting hormone. Put that in moist soil but not really wet – place in a bright location but not direct sun, and see if it roots.

      Reply
    • Bonnie

      They like to be pot bound and don’t water until mostly dry. DO NOT OVER WATER. I love mine. I’ve had it for 18 years. I love rooting the plant in water and then potting them up and giving them to friends.

      Happy growing
      Bonnie

      Reply
  9. Karen Ostlund

    I think my begonia is developing root rot. Can I dig it out, cut off the soft dying stem and re-plant?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Tip it out of the pot, knock off old soil, cut off black stems and roots, and repot in new, fresh soil in a clean pot.

      Reply
  10. Renny Halstrom

    Hello, help! My Immense is well over 20 years old. In a 10″ pot. not doing well for about a year now. It does flower. The leaves are very small they droop and some fall off. Right now there are about 50 new leaves but they never grow to any size. ( they were plate size at one time). I will re-pot the plant but should I use a 12″ pot? What type of fertilizer is best? It is also reaching for light even though it is in a small east facing window. Do I need to rinse the plant of any toxins before I repot?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      I’d put it in a 14″ pot, and wash as much of the old soil off as possible without hurting the roots before potting it up. You could put a tablespoon of time-release fertilizer such as Osmocote in the potting soil (mixed in through the soil) when you pot it up. I think you’ll see some “immense” growth this winter? 😉

      Reply
  11. Lily Turtletail

    Great info here! I got my “Immense” by propagation during a propagation course at Purdue University long ago. It is huge and is actually three plants in one pot now. At my former home it struggled and when I moved into my current home I purchased new plants and with them came fungus gnats. I treated that problem by covering the tops of my plants with sand to prevent the insects from entering or exiting the soil, which was very effective, but I had to modify the watering schedule as the sand held moisture. The begonia became lush and very happy. We’ll see if it blooms this winter.

    Reply
  12. Kathy Nesbit

    Where can I buy A Immense Begonia?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      I don’t know, Kathy. You might Google it.

      Reply
  13. J. Barnhart

    Is this a rhizome begonia?

    Reply
  14. Lahna Young

    I have one of these and it is HUGE. It was my grandmother’s plant and it fascinated me as a little kid. She died in 1955 and our family all has its ‘children’. Same plant, very old.

    Reply
  15. Cp

    Thanks for the article, very helpful!

    Reply

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