It is one of the most popular bedding and balcony plants. Outdoors, it blooms tirelessly from May until the first frost. The ice begonia with the botanical name Begonia semperflorens from the Schiefblatt family is a real carefree flower, because as a houseplant it even delights gardeners all year round with its countless flowers. The only thing the ice begonia does not have is the winter hardiness that the name suggests. It makes up for this fact threefold, because it thrives in almost any location, does not mind a strong pruning and can be easily propagated by seed. Begonia semperflorens, which are often called God’s eyes, are therefore simply indispensable in the life of the enthusiastic hobby gardener.


Since the Begonia semperflorens are hybrids, it is not possible to propagate the same variety by collecting seeds yourself, but rather a botanical roulette. It is impossible to predict which attributes of which parent will prevail. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase the seeds of the desired variety in specialist shops or on the Internet, where they are offered for little money. Ideally, the hobby gardener sows indoors or in a heated greenhouse from January to March:

  • Provide seed trays or seed pots.
  • Sterilize low-nutrient substrate in the oven at 200°.
  • Fill the pots with potting soil.
  • Spread the tiny seeds carefully and evenly.
  • Just press the light germs and do not cover them with soil.
  • Moisten well with a water spray, but do not soak.
  • Close the culture vessel with a translucent lid or foil.
  • Place in a bright place at 18° to 22° Celsius.
  • Protect from direct sunlight.
  • Germination time 10 to 20 days depending on the temperature.
  • Keep evenly moist during this time.
  • When the first leaves appear, the lid is removed.

As a rule, the seedlings are so strong 6 to 8 weeks after sowing that they can be pricked out and cultivated in their own pot. A temperature between 18° and 22° Celsius is optimal in this phase. The young polar begonias can already tolerate light morning or evening sun. They are only shaded under direct midday sun. Immediately after the ice saints in mid-May, they can go into the bed, onto the balcony or the terrace.


Begonia semperflorens make no special demands on the site conditions. They thrive in a sunny location just as diligently as in partial shade or even in the shade. So it is not surprising that the eyes of God can often be found as grave plants, even if the resting place is in the shade of a tree. In addition, experienced hobby gardeners pay attention to the following care instructions:

  • Substrate made from quality potting soil with peat content.
  • The pH ranges between 6 and 7.
  • A leaf soil and compost mixture as an inexpensive alternative.
  • Water evenly without causing waterlogging.
  • Water in the morning and evening on dry summer days.
  • Do not place tubs and flower pots on coasters.
  • Create a drainage of potsherds or perlite.
  • Do not water ice begonias overhead.
  • Fertilize every 4 weeks in summer.
  • Rinse wilted plant parts regularly.
  • Check daily for pests and diseases.
  • Pull weeds in flower borders every few days.

Thanks to the fleshy leaves, the polar begonia is able to store a water supply. As a result, it does not perish immediately if it has to survive a short dry season. This circumstance may also have contributed to the fact that Begonia semperflorens are so numerous in the cemetery, because very few relatives have the time to appear there every day in summer to water the grave plants.


In addition to sowing, ice begonias can be propagated at any time during the course of growth using leaf cuttings. A healthy leaf is cut off the mother plant with the longest possible stalk. The cut is immediately covered with charcoal ash or some other wound closure agent to prevent the plant from bleeding out. Experienced gardeners first place the leaf cuttings in a glass with room-temperature rainwater or stagnant tap water for 2 to 3 days. Only then is a 5.5 cm pot taken and filled with a moist peat-sand mixture. The sheet is inserted 1 cm to a maximum of 2 cm deep into it.

A small support may be needed to keep it from tipping over, such as a long toothpick or plastic shim. The leaf cutting itself is not sprayed with water because in this case it is endangered by rot. A plastic bag pulled over it promotes a microclimate in the pot that supports rooting. During the 4 to 6 weeks that follow, the substrate is kept evenly moist and the plastic bag is aired from time to time until it has done its job at the end of this time and is left out altogether. If the ambient temperature is between 20° and 25° Celsius, there is a good chance of growing several young plants from a single Ice Begonia leaf. Depending on the extent of root formation, there is the possibility

Force rooting with willow water

If you want to shorten the waiting time for complete rooting, use willow water for the process. The secret of its effectiveness lies in the auxins found in the willows. These are natural growth regulators that have a beneficial effect on a wide variety of processes in this process. Therefore, auxins are also among the natural phytohormones. Thanks to this knowledge, experienced gardeners save the money for expensive rooting powder from specialist shops.

Every hobby gardener can easily produce this little miracle of nature himself:

  • Cut off annual willow branches.
  • Break into small pieces as fresh as possible.
  • Pour into a jar with a lid and pour boiling water over it.
  • Cover and let steep for at least 24 hours.
  • Strain the broth and you’re done.

Willow water can be stored for at least two weeks in a cool place. During this time it is used as an alternative to conventional irrigation water, which significantly accelerates rooting. Therefore, the leaf cuttings are better placed in willow water than in conventional rainwater. It is good to know that this broth is not only suitable for ice begonias, but is also beneficial for all plants in the garden to use during propagation.

Multifaceted variety

Apart from the colors yellow and blue, ice begonias are represented in all conceivable colors. In addition, some very decorative breeds with double flowers and green and dark foliage have succeeded in recent years. Some attractive varieties or groups of varieties are presented below:

Green Leaved F1 Series ‘Jewel’

  • Bicolor with pink and white flowers
  • White with pure white flowers
  • Scarlet blooms a rich scarlet

Green leafed F1 series ‘Quick’

  • Pink shines in beautiful pink
  • Red flowers in bright red

Green Leaves F1 Series ‘Super Olympia’

  • different varieties with pink flowers
  • Growth height up to 20 cm
  • particularly rich floral decoration
  • Variety ‘Starlet’: white flowers with a pink border

Benary F1 hybrids in new breeding

  • convincing successor generation of ‘Super Olympia’
  • Growth height 20 cm
  • fresh green foliage
  • very early flowering
  • large-flowered in decorative color nuances
  • noble and even growth habit

Benary F1 hybrid special varieties

  • ‘Derby’: salmon pink flowers with a coral colored centre
  • ‘Organdy’: intensive shades of high brilliance
  • ‘Whisky’: white flowers with bronze foliage
  • ‘Vodka’: scarlet flowers with black-brown foliage

Dark-leaved F1 Series ‘New Globe’

  • different varieties in white, red and pink
  • dense, compact growth
  • profusely blooming
  • nice contrast

Dark F1 Series ‘Diable’

  • Shades of pink, red and white
  • one of the smallest varieties with a height of 18 cm
  • for a short cultivation

Dunkellaube F1 Series ‚Fantastic Compacta ‘

  • half-height plants 25 cm to 30 cm
  • in different colors
  • somewhat sensitive to wind

Begonia semperflorens Serie ‚Vision‘

  • ‘Salmon’ with large salmon pink flowers and dark foliage
  • ‘Red’ with deep red flowers surrounded by almost black foliage
  • High quality ‘White’, early flowering

Ice begonias with double flowers

  • Doublet White in pure white
  • Doublet pink with soft pink flowers
  • D. Red with deep red flowers


In the warm climes of its Brazilian homeland, the ice begonia blooms non-stop for years. This is not possible in the regions of Central Europe because it cannot withstand temperatures below freezing, even for short periods. If the Begonia semperflorens have spent the summer in the bed, they are dug up after the first frost and disposed of on the compost. In the planter, on the other hand, the eyes of God can hibernate well at 16° to 20° Celsius in a bright place and then even bloom in the dark season.

During the winter in the house, conservatory or greenhouse, the plant only gets a ration of low-calcium water if it has been determined with a thumb test that the surface of the substrate has dried out. Fertilizers are not used at all during this time. So that the dreaded spider mites, who love the dry heating climate so much, do not have an easy time, the God’s eye is sprayed with rainwater at room temperature at regular intervals. When spring is announced, the experts advise slowly getting used to the sunshine or hardening the ice begonia.

diseases and pests

Begonia semperflorens are known to be extremely resistant to pests. The dreaded slugs usually give them a wide berth. Likewise, aphids, whiteflies and thrips don’t seem to think much of the polar begonia. However, problems can arise from propagating fungi that spread if the growing medium is kept too wet. The seedlings can no longer be saved in the event of an infestation. It should therefore be pointed out once again at this point that a lot of tact is required when watering in the course of propagation.

Slate leaf plants, such as Begonia semperflorens, are among the favorite plants of the aphids. The threadworms, which are a maximum of 1 mm long, reach the roots and leaves via the irrigation water, where they suck out the plant sap. The infestation can be recognized when the foliage appears glassy and turns brownish-yellow. At an early stage, it is helpful to cut off the infected parts of the ice begonia plant. Otherwise, it is advisable to dispose of the entire flower in the household waste to prevent it from spreading to neighboring plants. In contrast to commercial cultivation, no pesticides are currently permitted for use in the home garden.

Flowering ice begonias that get waterlogged in the planter will soon develop root and stem rot. This is a fungal disease that is usually caused by an overdose when watering. The fungal species Phytophthora cryptogea spreads from the roots and over time softens the entire ice begonia to the point where it dies. As with the propagating fungi, it is also true here that the eyes of God would rather be a little too dry than too wet.

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