Storing Begonias Over Winter

Storing Begonias

Begonias, although often sold as half-hardy annuals, are mostly perennials. The tuberous (and rhizomatous) varieties can be over-Winter for progressively better results year after year. Fibrous rooted groups such as ‘wax begonias’ and ‘Angel’ or ‘Dragon’ winged varieties can be pruned into a manageable shape and taken into the house to serve as a pot plant during the colder months.

I especially prize my collection of tuberous-rooted varieties, such as Begonia ‘Apricot Shades‘, ‘Non-stop Mocca‘, ‘Aromantics’ and trailing classics such as ‘Cascading Picotee’ and Boliviensis.

Many Begonias have tuberous rooted perennials. Unfortunately, the majority of varieties are incapable of surviving the Winter, here in the UK. They will require a period of dormancy in a cool, dry place. The main benefit of storing tubers is that you not only save having to buy new plants in the Spring, but every year the tuber increases in size and so does the plant that comes from it!

Protecting Begonia Tubers

Overwintering Begonia tubers is quite simple:

  1. Dig up the entire Begonia plant with foliage still attached before the hard frosts set in, ensuring that the tuber is not damaged in the process.
  2. Cut away with a sharp knife, any disease parts of the tuber.
  3. Leave it to dry in a frost-free and sunny place for about 1 week.
  4. Remove the foliage by gently teasing the stems from the tuber.
  5. Clean away any excess soil or compost.
  6. You may dust your Begonia tuber with sulfur powder to guard against rot.
  7. Store tubers in a cardboard box, space them evenly apart and put them in a dry, frost-free and dark place until spring and then plant as normal.

I like to occasionally check my Begonia tubers during Winter to ensure they are still dry and rot-free. I tend to remove any that aren’t to prevent the risk of infecting other tubers.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.


  1. I am new at this gardening thing thing. I was told I can ‘tent’ my bagonia to save it over the winter. Is it that simple. I live in Bellingham Washington. It is still before the frost.

  2. Hi Barbara,

    I haven’t heard of ‘tenting’ begonias, except perhaps for propagation purposes. I’m not too sure what kind of weather you have in Bellingham – how cold it gets or general humidity, but I would suggest that digging up and over wintering your begonias is a very safe option. It also gives you the opportunity to perform a little health check on your plant’s tubers. I found a few grubs in mine this year – now I’m glad I checked.

    If your begonias are fibrous rooted, then you can either dig them up, trim them back and store as house plants over winter, or take cuttings and keep in a warm spot in your house. Most begonia varieties easily take from cuttings – hardly any labour at all.

    I hope this helps.

  3. i’m new at geraniums and begonia over wintering. i have kept plants as indoor but have many pots and not enough room for all so have decided to dryroot them. i am zone 6 (ontrio canada) have done much research and have come to the conclusion that dry root is the best method ?? i have both geraniums and begonias. any advice would be welcome.

  4. Hi Diane. The method doesn’t really matter, as long as you do the following to over winter your begonia tubers:

    * Keep in a frost free place.
    * Keep dry.
    * Check on them every now and then to ensure aginst fungal infections or pest infestations.
    * You can pack them in dry compost or in newspaper.

    Let the frost just touch the begonia plants before removing the tubers – this will allow for some of the nutrients to return back to the tuber. Don’t leave them in the ground for too long or you will loose them! It’s also a very good idea to label each tuber. I forgot to do this one year and had trailing begonias in tubs and erect forms in my hanging baskets!!!

  5. Last year, I left my tubers on my windowsil to dry for a week. Once dry, I tapped away the remaining compost and found and removed several vine weevil lavae. I’m glad I did this now as the weevils would have had a begonia snack over winter!

    Always be careful when cleaning a begonia tuber. They may look as tough as old boots, but they are not. The skins around the tubers are very thin and can easily peel away increasing the chances of fungal infection.

  6. My husband has stored my begonia tubers in newspaper, in an airtight polystyrene box.
    Is this OK.

  7. I think that sounds like a reasonable why to store them. Just make sure you check them every couple of months to ensure that they aren’t going rotten and keep each one separately wrapped. Thanks – a good suggestion.

  8. Hi James last year I left my tubers in the tubs in which they had spent the summer months. Letting the compost dry out and storing in a frost free greenhouse.

    This spring they came back to life giving me a flying start and enabling me to take fresh cuttings for rooting I then replanted the original tubers/plants into fresh tubs and compost

    I may have been lucky but I will try again this year to see if it works again, of course correct labelling is important at the time of storing

  9. To be honest with you, I think that this is the safest approach – keeping them in the tub or container they originally grew in. Be careful though – a sharp frost could still do major damage. A cool greenhouse or shed should be a safe environment for most winters. I would also recommend avoid watering. Don’t let them totally dry out, but a light misting over the compost if it dries out should do the trick.

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