Begonias are huge family of plants that fill different needs at different times of year.

In the summer, they are a ever-blooming annual with lush blossoms that thrive in the shade. If you want to make a splash with an annual, go with begonias – especially the Nonstop begonias, which do well both in containers and the ground. Many of their blooms look like fully open roses.

At this time of year, begonias are a foliage plant, and for foliage you can’t go wrong with Rex begonias, which are sometimes called painted-leaf or fancy-leaf begonias. The leaves – which come in a variety of patterns – are large (up to 6 inches long), multicolored and deeply textured.

The number of varieties seems almost unlimited, so use it as an excuse to shop. Go to a garden center that has a large selection of houseplants, browse and pick what you like. (At this time of year, with temperatures in the single digits, it’s nice to soak up the sun in a greenhouse while browsing.) Rex begonias have small white or pale pink flowers, but they’re almost beside the point.

When you get them home, know that Rex begonias want bright light but not direct sun, and should be planted in fast-draining soil. Let the plants dry out between waterings and don’t mist them, because they can get powdery mildew.

Once they get larger, Rex begonias are easy to divide into new plants – letting you spread this beauty among your friends.

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