Supersized begonias in bloom at Gardens by the Bay

The Begonia "Prima Donna Sunburst" (above, foreground) and Begonia "Cascade Red" (left) are among the varieties on display.
The Begonia "Prima Donna Sunburst" (above, foreground) and Begonia "Cascade Red" are among the varieties on display.ST PHOTOS: SYAMIL SAPARI
The Begonia "Prima Donna Sunburst" (above, foreground) and Begonia "Cascade Red" (left) are among the varieties on display.
The Begonia "Prima Donna Sunburst" and Begonia "Cascade Red" (above) are among the varieties on display.ST PHOTOS: SYAMIL SAPARI

More than 20,000 begonia plants, some of them with supersized flowers, will be on display at Gardens by the Bay's Begonia Brilliance show

Tens of thousands of begonia plants are now in bloom at Gardens by the Bay and among them are supersized flowers as well as varieties that do not usually thrive in the tropics.

This is the first time the Gardens is putting on a begonia display.

Begonia Brilliance features more than 20,000 begonia plants and over 50 varieties.

Most are from Europe and Malaysia, but some 5,000 supersized ones were cultivated by the Gardens' research and horticulture team.

An average begonia flower is about 5cm wide, while supersized blooms are 13 to 16cm in diameter.

Begonia plants are found in tropical and subtropical regions and are grown for their attractive foliage and flowers.

  • BOOK IT / BEGONIA BRILLIANCE

  • WHERE: Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive

    WHEN: Till July 1, 9am to 9pm

    ADMISSION: Admission charges to the Flower Dome apply

    INFO: bit.ly/2kjkLar

  • Begonia facts

  • • The Begoniaceae family is one of the largest flowering plant families, with over 1,500 species and numerous hybrids and cultivars.

    • Begonia plants are found in tropical and subtropical regions such as Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Leafy rex begonia and cane begonia are the most common ones in Singapore.

    • The leaves are usually asymmetrical, arranged alternately, and have streaks, marks or patches of different colours.

    • Flowering begonia plants produce blooms in colours ranging from white, yellow, orange and apricot to shades of pink and red.

    • It takes three to four months for begonia plants to grow from tubers to full bloom.

    • Begonia plants have a long flowering season. Each flower lasts two to three weeks. The plant will keep producing flowers until it uses up all its energy, after which it will go into dormancy.

On display at the Gardens are tuberous begonias, which are liked for their flowers but are not commonly found here as they do not thrive in the tropical environment.

Growing tuberous begonia plants for the display posed some challenges, says Ms Lim Mei Leng, senior assistant director (research & horticulture) at Gardens by the Bay.

They need at least 14 hours of daylight every day to grow and flower.

Singapore, however, receives just 12 hours of daylight a day.

Lights had to be installed in the glasshouses, which had to be kept at between 19 and 23 deg C as tuberous begonias are sensitive to temperature changes.

Begonia plants, which are susceptible to disease, also need a lot of energy to produce flowers.

One way to create supersized blooms is to reduce the number of flower buds on each plant, allowing the energy and nutrients to be channelled to the remaining buds.

Male flowers tend to be more attractive, so female buds are usually removed.

Begonia plants are monoecious, which means that separate male and female flowers are found on the same plant.

This is the first time the Gardens is attempting to grow large begonia plants, Ms Lim says. "We are keeping our fingers crossed."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2018, with the headline 'Begonias in bloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe