Begonia ‘China Curl’


Unlike the previous two begonias, this is not a species but a hybrid, created by Leslie Woodriff and introduced in 1979. It is a Rex begonia, meaning that it is bred from the rhizomatous B. rex though the ancestry of the hybrids involves other species. Rex begonias have the most spectacular foliage of all, with silver and red and purple shades commonly dominant in the leaf. They can be spectacular but they like warmth, gentle light and high humidity. The leaves can be massive and because they are rather brittle, growing a really good plant is an achievement. If you remember that they like to be warm and comfy and never wet and cold you are on the right track! It is best to let the plants almost dry out before watering again but excessive drought will bring on powdery mildew and that spoils the leaves and is a bugger to get rid of since none of these plants likes to have wet leaves so spraying is tricky.


‘China Curl’ is a beauty with beetroot red leaves with a central silver band that is flushed with pink. What makes it extra special is that the edges of the leaves keep growing round in a spiral. The most famous of this type is ‘Escargot’ which is another large plant but has rounder, green and silver leaves.


Being a Rex begonia this should be a low-growing, rhizomatous type but my plant has an upright stem with leaves growing from that, rather like a cane begonia – time will tell if this is just a phase or not!


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