Eazy Gardening

The Beauty and Care of Begonia Boliviensis ‘San Francisco’

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a beautiful flowering plant, perfect for adding an exotic touch to any garden. This species of begonia is native to Bolivia, but it can be easily grown in most regions with warm temperatures.

While this plant requires attention, it is not too difficult to care for it properly. In this article, we will explore the basics of Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ including its common and vernacular names, description and characteristics, and benefits to wildlife.

Additionally, we will cover the preferred growing conditions, potential pest and disease issues, and planting and maintenance tips for ensuring that this plant thrives in your garden.

Overview of the Plant

Common Names and Vernacular Names

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is commonly referred to as the Bolivian Begonia or the San Francisco Begonia. It is sometimes also called the Bonfire Begonia because of its spectacular red-orange flowers.

Description of the Plant

The Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a small perennial plant with delicate flowers. It grows to a height of about 20cm and a spread of approximately 30cm.

The leaves are glossy and green with a slightly toothed edge. The flowers are what make this plant unique, and they are the reason many gardeners grow it.

The flowers grow in clusters on long stems, and they are a bright red-orange color. Each flower has long, thin petals that resemble a swath of fire.

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ flowers from June to October.


The Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a striking flowering plant that can add aesthetic appeal to any garden. The flowers of this plant are the most distinctive characteristic and are a favourite of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Additionally, the shallow flowers provide nectar and pollen for a range of species, making it incredibly valuable in gardens as an environmental resource. Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a semi-evergreen plant, meaning that it keeps its leaves seasonally, and it prefers some shade to avoid scorching during the summer months.

You will find that this plant is relatively low maintenance, and it works well in containers or hanging baskets.

Plant Cultivation and Care

Preferred Growing Conditions

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ thrives in rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.5 and 6.5. This plant cannot withstand freezing temperatures, so it must be grown in a greenhouse, conservatory, or indoors in cold areas where winter frost is very likely. It thrives in partial shade, but it will also grow reasonably well in full sun.

It could benefit from a protective layer of mulch around its base to help retain moisture. Additionally, it requires regular watering, especially in hot weather.

Potential Pest and Disease Issues

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is susceptible to fungal problems like botrytis and powdery mildew, so ensure proper ventilation to help keep humidity levels low, as these issues are often associated with damp conditions. Aphids and spider mites are common pests, but they are not usually a problem if you have natural predators in your garden.

Handpicking the pests or comprising a solution from neem oil and water will help you keep these pests at bay.

Planting and Maintenance Tips

You can propagate Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ from stem cuttings in the spring, or you could use seed if you have it. Ensure that the soil is warm, moist and fertile, preferably with some organic material incorporated, like peat moss.

Your plants may require additional support if they grow too thin and tall. Some varieties of B.

boliviensis will generally undergo a natural dormancy when temperatures drop below a certain point, but if you’re growing it indoors or in a controlled environment, likely keeping temperatures high enough it will continue to grow and bloom throughout the year. Watering the plant in an overhead manner will help to avoid stressing the leaves of the plant as it dislikes soggy or wet conditions too.

Ensure that the plant has adequate airflow for proper growth and that the leaves do not touch the soil as this can cause root rot.


In conclusion, Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a stunning flowering plant that can add an exotic touch to any garden. Its striking flowers, low maintenance, and suitability for container or hanging basket cultivation make it an excellent choice for those gardeners looking for an easy-to-care-for and attractive plant.

By adhering to the preferred growing conditions, regularly checking for pests and diseases, planting and maintaining the plant, and ensuring appropriate care, you can grow Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ successfully. Plant propagation methods, including sexual and asexual reproduction

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ plant propagation can either be sexual or asexual.

Sexual reproduction involves seeds, similar to most plants. When the plant flowers and the flowers have been pollinated, seed pods form on the plant.

Usually, it takes the plant about 8-12 weeks to develop viable seeds. The pods are then harvested when they change colour and become slightly soft.

Propagation by seeds requires patience as it is a relatively slow process. You may consider starting the seeds indoors, 6-8 weeks before your last frost date in spring.

Sow the seeds in a tray with warm, well-drained soil and keep the soil moist. Once the seeds are germinated, the seedlings can be transplanted into smaller pots or into your garden once they have developed adequate growth with established roots.

Asexual reproduction, on the other hand, can be faster because it involves cloning mother plants to get a genetically identical plant to the original. Asexual reproduction also allows you to create more plants faster than the natural method of sexual production, which can take up to a year.

One of the most common propagation methods for Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is through cuttings. Propagation through cuttings involves taking a cutting from the parent plant, dipping the bottom in rooting hormone to stimulate root growth, and then planting the cutting in a pot of well-draining, moist soil.

You could also use vermiculite as a rooting medium. Once planted, you should maintain high humidity around the cutting and keep the soil moist while avoiding overwatering.

After rooting occurs in about 3-4 weeks, the new plant can be transplanted into a larger pot or your garden.

Plant Adaptations to Different Environments

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ has specific adaptations that enable it to survive in different environments. Understanding these adaptations can help you grow and care for them effectively.

This plant has evolved to grow well in conditions of high humidity level and low light levels. In its natural habitat of Bolivia, it is found growing on rocky ledges or along rainforest streams, where the soil is rich in organic matter.

It grows best when kept moist but not waterlogged, which is why it prefers partial shade. The Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ has developed leaves that are thin, delicate, and smooth.

This adaptation allows the leaves to maximize the surface area available to receive sunlight, enabling the plant to photosynthesize efficiently. Its leaves are light sensitive, which means they can detect changes in the amount of light within the surroundings and adjust accordingly.

When the sun becomes too hot, the leaves fold together, creating a shade that helps to prevent a buildup of heat and water loss from its foliage. Additionally, Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ has developed clustering growth habits, allowing multiple stems to emerge from one single spot, producing a dense, bushy appearance.

This adaptation helps the plant to benefit from the surrounding humidity, creating a mini greenhouse atmosphere around the plant, allowing it to keep its moisture and maintain the ideal temperature.

Another essential adaptation for Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is its roots.

The roots are shallow, spread wide and flat, allowing it to absorb as much moisture as possible. It enables the plant to take advantage of every available source of water, even in drier environments.


Understanding the adaptations of Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ can help you create an ideal environment to keep the plant healthy and thriving. Its specific adaptations have allowed it to survive in its natural habitat, and it is essential to reproduce the same conditions in gardens or indoors.

These adaptations help to prevent a buildup of heat and water loss from its foliage, making it essential for gardeners to maintain humidity levels. By combining this knowledge with effective propagation methods, such as using cuttings, you can propagate the plant successfully to fill your garden with beautiful and unique tropical plants.

Usage of the Plant in Indoor Setting

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is an excellent choice for indoor plants. These plants add a fantastic pop of color, making them ideal for window shelves or a desk.

Their preference for partial shade and their unique adaption to low light level environments also make them an ideal choice for indoor gardening. When grown indoors, it is essential to position Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ in a place that receives low to indirect light.

Make sure to avoid placing them in direct sunlight, which could lead to leaf burn and damage to the plant. They also require high humidity, making terrariums or humidifiers the best choices for indoor cultivation.

Always ensure that you keep their soil moist but avoid overwatering.

Usage of the Plant in Outdoor Setting

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is an excellent plant to use outdoors in both residential and commercial settings. They are ideal for gardens, decks, balconies, and in mixed planters.

Planting them in hanging baskets can also turn your patio into a haven of beauty. When planting outdoors, make sure to choose a suitable site.

Partial shade is the best condition for growing Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco.’ Choose a location with well-draining soil, high in organic matter and with a pH in the range of 5.5 to 6.5. When planting, ensure that you space them apart to give them enough room to spreadd and expand. You could plant them alone or combine them with other colourful flowerbeds.

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is popular for hanging baskets and window boxes too. Hang the baskets in a partially shaded area.

Make sure to also keep their soil moist and drain well to prevent root rot. In public space, begonias like the Bolivian Begonia are perfect for use in landscapes, public parks, and street plantings.

Their unique flowers will brighten the landscape and attract pollinators, making them ideal for public spaces such as roundabouts and city parks. Their one significant advantage is their low maintenance once established.

As long as you ensure they receive adequate water and keep the soil moist, they will perform well. Additionally, they tolerate deadheading reasonably well, which means once their flowers fade, plucking them off will encourage further blooms.


Growing Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ plants can be a great joy for gardeners. With proper care and attention to their unique environment, they can thrive in both indoor and outdoor settings with no issues.

Choosing the right spot and planting in well-drained soil with proper humidity controls is essential to keeping them healthy. Whether for ornamental or planting in public spaces, these low maintenance plants can grow into colorful displays if given the right care.

Toxicity of the Plant to Pets and Horses, Humans

Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is toxic to both pets and humans if ingested in significant amounts. The plant contains small amounts of calcium oxalate crystals that can lead to irritation of the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract.

The symptoms of ingestion might include drooling, vomiting, and difficulty in swallowing, depending on how much of the plant the animal has consumed.

If ingested in larger quantities, the calcium oxalate crystals that are found in the plant can cause severe health issues.

In rare cases, they could lead to temporary paralysis in the throat, making it extremely hard to breathe without immediate medical attention.

It’s important to limit pets and livestock’s access to this plant, especially in outdoor settings.

Ensure that you keep animals away from the plants, and if displaying it within reach of pets curious enough to chew, ensure you try to choose a safe and secure place or opt for safer alternatives. Ensure that you always wash your hands after handling the plant.

It is also advisable to wear gloves when gardening since direct contact with the plant could cause skin irritation.

If pets happen to ingest the plant, seek immediate veterinary care.

You should call your vet or pet poison control center for guidance as soon as possible. For humans, contact a poison control centre for advice on what to do after consumption immediately.

In conclusion, while Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a great plant, its potential toxicity means that it should be handled with utmost care when cultivating it. Always keep the plant out of harm’s way, especially if you own pets or have wildlife in the area.

When handling the plant, ensure you wear gloves and practice proper sanitation afterward. Finally, always seek medical help if exposed to the toxicity incidents.

In conclusion, Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ is a beautiful and unique flowering plant that can add a touch of the tropics to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Understanding the important details such as its propagation, adaptations, preferred growing conditions, and toxicity, can help you to cultivate and maintain this plant successfully.

By adhering to the proper care, you can enjoy the beauty of Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ in your garden, on your balcony, and even indoors, with a minimum of fuss. Here are some common FAQS that might be top of mind when cultivating this plant:

1) Is Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ toxic?

Yes, the plant is toxic to pets and humans if ingested in large amounts. 2) Can I grow Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’ indoors?

Yes, it is an excellent choice for indoor gardening in a space with low to indirect light. 3) How do I propagate Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’?

You might propagate it through seed or cuttings. 4) What are the preferred growing conditions for Begonia boliviensis ‘San Francisco’?

It prefers a pH range of 5.5-6.5 and a rich soil full of organic matter, partial shade and well-drained soil in outdoor settings.

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