With over 1,800 species, the begonia genus actually has something to offer for every taste and purpose. Despite this, they are sometimes considered old-fashioned or boring today - unjustly, according to the Landgard growers' cooperative and its member companies, who regularly test new varieties and variants to get younger people interested in begonias. Together with the trade, producers, and marketers are therefore working to boost the image of these plants in the long term.
"Indoor begonias are now in season all year round. Depending on the weather, the time for outdoor begonias starts in April, when there are no more night frosts," explains Niko Vennekel, manager of the Landgard Cash & Carry store in Oberhausen. "As a classic, Begonia semperflorens, for example, are in high demand there, especially from 'cemetery nurseries.' These robust perennials are heat-tolerant, and thanks to their thick leaves, they still thrive even when the consumer forgets to water them. For the home balcony or garden, on the other hand, there are other cultivars and varieties that can come up with unusual flowers, unusual leaf shapes and patterns, or an interesting play of colors."
Farms like Gartenbau Laege from East Westphalia-Lippe are always experimenting with new varieties. With a total area of 8,000 square meters under glass, the family-run business specializes in different begonia varieties, in addition to Primula, Hydrangea, Impatiens New Guinea, Pelargoniums, Exacum affine, and Euphorbia pulcherrima, which they grow throughout the year. "For example, we have been gaining initial experience with leafy begonias since the beginning of the year," says Daniela Hoffmann, who is the third generation to run the Landgard member business. "Of course, they are nowhere near taking the place of flowering begonias in terms of quantities and sales. But we believe that they can be an interesting way to attract new customers to this great product. After all, the trend is currently moving increasingly toward green plants, especially among young people."
Daniela Hoffmann's love of begonias practically runs in the family: her father, from whom she took over the business in 2016, had already specialized in the slate-leaf plants. "As a result, we naturally have a lot of know-how and experience in the family and know, for example, when we need to compress the plants and to what extent in order to reliably produce good qualities," explains Daniela Hoffmann. This year, the company is cultivating around 150,000 elatior and foliage begonias, which are marketed via the cash & carry markets, primarily to specialist retailers. And demand for begonias from Gartenbau Laege has been good so far, especially at seasonal highlights such as Easter or Mother's Day.
In recent weeks, as part of the Landgard Mother's Day concept "Super Mom," they have once again shown that the colorful indoor and outdoor plants are real eye-catchers. For Daniela Hoffmann, begonias are definitely the perfect gift: "The beauty of the begonia is that it not only looks great but also blooms again and again. So with the right care, you can enjoy the plant for a long time. And, what many do not know at all: If there is no suitable place in the apartment, begonias can also be planted directly in the garden. At appropriate temperatures, they can be used very well as shade bedding plants."