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PlantFiles: Star Begonia
Begonia heracleifolia

Family: Begoniaceae (be-gon-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Begonia (be-GON-yuh) (Info)
Species: heracleifolia (hair-uh-klee-ih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

» View all varieties of Begonias

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From leaf cuttings
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive suncatcheracres On Oct 27, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I too have done considerable research on this plant as I recently purchased a huge one from a local "hobby" tropical plant grower. I paid him the most I have ever paid for a begonia, as I had never seen a Star Begonia before, and I was struck with an attack of "plant lust" at the time. The grower told me he had found his original plant growing on his property near Gainesville, Florida, when he first moved there.

I live in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, and the culture sheet that came with this plant says it is winter hardy in the ground in this area: "A hard frost will kill the foliage but the rhizomes will survive a hard freeze. The rhizomes grow close to the soil surface and spread several inches a year, eventually forming a nice mat. The flower stems appear very early in the Spring so the plant is not dormant for very long." But just to be sure I only planted half of the plant in the ground and put the other half in a pot for overwintering.

I have a plant-loving friend who recently took a 10 day trip to Belize, and she saw this plant growing there in wet, part shady conditions near stream banks.

The Begonia Society website describes a trip they took to "Tropical World" near Vera Cruz, Mexico, where they found Star Begonia growing everywhere--"in every crack and crevice"--and the owner of "Tropical World" considers the plant to be particularly invasive in mild climates. The Begonia Society writer notes that Star Begonia is highly variable--some leaves are all green, some are almost all black with green centers, some are green with dark margins, and some are darker green with dark splotches, with flowers from white to pink. Mine is dark green, with almost black margins, and the flowers are supposedly pink.

In South Florida, Star Begonia can be used as a ground cover, and it has naturlized there and is now considered invasive. It supposedly likes to grow near limestone--which makes up most of Florida--and I planted mine in a slightly raised bed surrounded by native limestone rocks which are covered with moss, under a native evergreen holly tree where it will get morning sun only.

The above writer is right in that this plant is not in the trade. An internet search of the Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association found not one big commercial plant nursery in Florida offering this plant for sale. I would guess that because it is considered invasive, growers have stopped producing it. Or maybe it is just so easily grown it has become one of those infamous "pass-along plants" of the South, to be shared with friends and neighbors.

I very recently found a local "Mom & Pop" nursery near my house that has absolutely huge specimens of Star Begonia. By this time of the year they have no small ones for sale, but she said she does a brisk business with them in the Spring.

Positive htop On Oct 27, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
I researched this begonia for a very long time and could not locate a cultivar name. It was given to me by a nice lady who lives in Houston. It has simple, palmate, coarse textured leaves which are at least 10 inches across at their widest points. It blooms only in the spring and can be used as a flowering ground cover or a specimen foliage plant. I have it in a hanging basket with the leaves cascading out and downward as well as upward. It does not prefer full sun nor full shade, preferring medium light; I have it located in partial shade. The light green stems are very sturdy and are covered in maroonish colored bumps which make them strikingly beautiful. According to several sources, these begonia used to be highly available in the 60s, but are difficult to locate now. This is probably because there are so many hybrids which are much more "showy" and more marketable. It is a carefree plant that can adapt to many soil types and needs a medium amount of water and fertilization.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

New Port Richey, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Sorrento, Florida
New Orleans, Louisiana
San Antonio, Texas

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