There's lots to be learned about plant varieties from the people who work at local garden centers.
That's where I learned about 'Bonfire' begonia. Diana at Hahn Nursery turned me on to the plant a couple of season ago. When someone like Diana works with hundreds of varieties, she can evaluate the truly great ones. There are amazing nurseries and garden centers all over our area. Each one offers something special, it's fun to explore each of them.
I can't imagine my garden without 'Bonfire.' It's a prolific bloomer which will grow in shade or part sun. The trailing habit is perfect for hanging baskets and growing on pedestals. I use the plants both ways and while sitting in the garden yesterday, thought of another great place for them. Hanging baskets are on sale now as the season progresses and I'm going to buy two of them, remove the hangers and put them on the top of an arbor. The flowers will cascade down flanking the entryway to a garden.
As long as 'Bonfire' gets watered every week and gets a little liquid organic fertilizer once in a while, it will happily bloom until frost. Another cool thing about the plant is that it grows from a tuber which can be saved just like a dahlia.
I also discovered 'Gryphon' begonia at Hahn. It's grown for its foliage although it does produce insignificant white flowers. The beautiful mottled, bronze leaves will get huge by the end of the season. Up to three feet tall. I love the use them as the main plant in the center of containers and surround it with caladiums and other shade lovers.
'Gryphon' also can be found on sale right now around our region and it grows from a tuber too.
Event though my life revolves around plants, I've fallen in love with many varieties which would have eluded me without the help of my friends at local nurseries.
Get to know them and you'll reap the same benefits.