Begonia peltata (Fuzzy Leaf Begonia) - An upright growing shrub begonia to 2 feet or more tall with erect thick succulent stems that hold fleshy nearly round to slightly oblong leaves with the petiole attachment towards the middle on the underside of the leaf, much like those of a waterlily. The leaves are apple green and covered with felt-like hairs, giving them a silver-green color, which is enhanced by bright light, and the newest leaves can be almost white. In winter appear the white flowers on long branching inflorescences.
Plant in a well-drained soil in an airy open location that gets bright light or morning sun and water sparingly. Those with the best results note it is best to treat this plant as though it were a succulent as rotting the plant by overwatering it is easy to do. It has proven frost hardy to around 30° F and likely would tolerate slightly colder temperatures for short durations, but is best in a frost free zone. It can be kept as a potted specimen or planted in a protected spot in the garden.
The Fuzzy Leaf Begonia comes from Mexico and is listed as being found in Vera Cruz south to Guatemala. The name for the genus honors Michel Begon (1638-1710), who was governor of French Canada, a passionate plant collector and a patron of botany. His friend, the French botanist Charles Plumier, named the genus for him. The specific name is descriptive of the skewered peltate leaves. This plant was described in February 1841 in Allgremeine Gartenzeitung by German botanists Christoph Friedrich Otto and Albert Gottfried Dietrich with this name, but later that same year was included in the British publication Edwards's Botanical Register as Begonia incana ("incana" means grayish or hoary in reference to the leaf color) by the English botanist John Lindley and it was under this name this plant was long cultivated.
We thank John Bleck for our cuttings of this unusual and attractive begonia, which he first grew as Begonia incana at the UCLA Mildred Mathias Botanic Garden and also had under this name in the UCSB Botany Greenhouse, but his current plant that we took our cuttings from was one that John "won" at the 2016 Exceptional Plant Auction at Ganna Walska Lotusland. Lotusland has this begonia growing in their fern garden and originally received it from Santa Barbara succulent and begonia specialist Diane Dunhill.
The information about Begonia peltata displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.