Ever since I spotted this wonderful Begonia growing at Yewbarrow (Grange over Sands) I have been fascinated with the idea of being able to grow a hardy Begonia. There is something so exotic about being able to grow such a plant in an East Yorkshire Garden.
Begonia ‘Benitochiba’ is the one that I have chosen, it is rated as being H5 hardy by the RHS, in their new hardiness scale. This suggests a hardiness range of -5C to -10C which will obviously depend on the soil conditions in the individual garden.
Begonia ‘Benitochiba’ is beautifully exotic looking. The leaves are palmate and tinged with pink and silver.
‘Benitochiba’ prefers to be grown in the shade or partial shade and copes well with a drier soil. To increase the chance of winter hardiness spring planting (so that it can become well established before the onset of winter) with copious amounts of alpine grit added to the soil (to improve drainage over the winter) is the order of the day. Despite all of this attention it may well loose its foliage over winter, regrowing in the spring. The flowers are a pale pink colour.
It is of Rex-cultorum origin and was hybridised by Isazu Misono (Japan) using Begoinia ‘Filigree’ a rex cultivar as the female parent. With Begonia luxuriant as the male parent However some sources are now suggesting the male parentage as being Begonia hemsleyana.
Begonia ‘Benitochiba’ was introduced in 1973, and has had a strong following as a result of its hardiness, I will be reporting back on my experiences with this plant.