Dragon Wings begonia is one of the most remarkable new garden flowers to come along.
Dragon Wings is a 2- to 3-foot tall, cane-forming begonia with deep, glossy-green, 5-inch long leaves and drooping clusters of flowers. Because the hybrid is sterile, it just keeps blooming from spring till frost. The original introduction had bright red flowers but now you can get it in a soft pink too.
The name Dragon Wings is a bit confusing. According to the members of the American Begonia Society a plant was registered in 1985 and named Christmas Candy by Mable Cowin, a hobby breeder working with shrub type begonias. Mable Corwin was one of our own San Diego Begonia Society breeders and has a Begonia Society branch name after her. She named her begonia cross Christmas Candy and it does look identical to what we call Dragon Wings begonia. It may have just gotten re-named and when the big producers found out how good it was they began to promote and sell it. We’ll never know for sure but one thing we do know is that this is one great begonia.
The name Dragon Wings is the name that has stuck/ What makes this begonia so special and so useful? There is some Brazilian blood in that plant and perhaps this is what makes it so agreeable to all sorts of climates. You can grow it in the shade and the flowers will be a softer color. You can grow it in the sun and have a tougher darker leaf and bloom. Give it a shady spot in your hotter inland climates and it’s just fine. Put it in a giant basket and you will have a real showstopper. In a large pot at your at the font door it can stand all alone and look great.
Because the Dragon doesn’t set seeds (sterile) it blooms all the time trying vainly to make some seeds. Dragon Wings’ sterility is good for both the gardener and the seed company. For the gardener, sterile plants never develop seeds and keep flowering in an unfruitful attempt to procreate. For the seed company, it’s good, because the only way seeds can be produced is to make the cross by hand and harvest the seeds,
Care tips. Be sure to keep your Dragon Wing in a large enough container. Don’t be afraid of going up to an 18” or 20 “ pot. We had a huge pot with two Dragon Wings in it a few years ago and that combo ended up being about 6 feet across. Food and water does it all.
If your plant gets dried out or abused somehow, just give it a feeding then cut it back about 2/3 of the way. You will soon have a full bushy plant again.
What about pests? Giant white flies used to be a problem. They seem to have become less active recently but if you get some, go after them ASAP. If you wait until mid-summer you will never win the battle.
Can you propagate your own Dragon Wings. Sure. but it will take time. You will need a large 32 oz plastic pop bottle with the bottom cut off. A 6 inch or so pot filled with Weidner’s mix and of course a plant. Take a tip cutting about 5 inches long. Cut all the big leaves in half crosswise. Use some Rooting hormone. We have it. Stick one or two at the most cuttings in the soil , Water and put the pop bottle over the top. This will act like a little mini greenhouse. Place in a warm shady spot and wait for roots.
So what about after next winter. Here is Evelyn’s special way. Sometime in the spring you will see the new growth start. It starts down at the base of the plant. Then you pour yourself a Drink of Choice and wander over to your plants. Simply snap off the long bare branches with a twist of your fingers. Have a sip and snap again. You will soon have a nice new full plant.