15 Begonia Rex Varieties | Types Of Rex Begonias

Rex Begonias, or Begonia rex-cultorum, are some of the most interesting foliage plants around. They thrive in partial sunlight, making them ideal for use as potted houseplants.

There are over 4,000 varieties of Rex Begonia — some much more common than others — each boasting unique colors, patterns, and shapes. Unsurprisingly, these plants are also known as Painted-Leaf and Fancy-Leaf Begonias.

In this article, I’ve listed some of my favorite Begonia rex varieties and shared some expert tips and tricks for getting the most out of these vibrant houseplants.

Types Of Begonias

The Begonia genus is incredibly diverse, with around 1,500 known species and countless more cultivars and hybrids. Rex Begonias make up just a small portion of the total number of species growing around the world.

There are several ways to categorize Begonias. According to the University of Florida, the simplest method is to group them based on the plants’ root systems:


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All Begonias have some degree of fibrous root systems but the species within this group have exclusively fibrous roots. Wax Begonias are the most popular subcategory within this group but it also includes shrub, cane, and trailing species.

Fibrous Begonias are most commonly used as annual bedding plants that are prized for their colorful flowers.



Rhizomatous Begonias represent the largest of the three categories. This is the group Rex Begonias belongs to.

These Begonias have fibrous roots as well as thick, underground stems called rhizomes. Rhizomes typically grow horizontally and may produce new sprouts along their lengths. 

Species within this category, including Begonia rex, are most commonly grown as houseplants. They require short days to flower — most bloom in the wintertime — and are usually selected for their unique foliage rather than their blossoms.



Instead of rhizomes, tuberous Begonias have a combination of fibrous roots and modified underground stems called tubers. Tubers are thick and starchy — a white potato is a classic example of this plant structure.

Tuberous Begonias usually produce large, rose-like flowers. They may be used in annual shade beds or ornamental containers.

Varieties Of Rex Begonias

Since all varieties of Rex Begonia belong to the same species, they tend to have the same general growth habits and maintenance needs. The main difference between one cultivar and another is appearance — i.e., leaf size, shape, and colour.

If you’re looking to get your hands on a particular variety, keep in mind that some are easier to find than others. I always recommend sourcing rare or uncommon houseplants from trusted sellers or collectors.

Black Velvet

1. Black Velvet

(Begonia ‘Black Velvet’)

  • Leaf Color: Black
  • Rarity: Rare

With dark foliage and lime green stems, the Black Velvet Begonia is certainly unique. The leaves are deeply lobed — giving them an almost star-shaped appearance — and can measure several inches across. Many specimens have swirled leaves.

There’s some confusion over whether this plant is a cultivar of Begonia rex-cultorum or if it is a separate type of rhizomatous Begonia. You can find ‘Black Velvet’ plants for sale under both labels.


2. Escargot

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Escargot’)

  • Leaf Color: Green, silver
  • Rarity: Common

‘Escargot’ is one of the most popular cultivars of Rex Begonia. These plants have dramatically swirled leaves decorated with bands of silver and green. The spiral pattern these bands create only adds to the snail shell aesthetic.

While Escargot Rex Begonias are primarily grown for their interesting foliage, they can also produce small pink flowers throughout the year.

This cultivar holds an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


3. Fireworks

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Fireworks’)

  • Leaf Color: Purple, pink, silver
  • Rarity: Uncommon

The Fireworks Rex Begonia boasts large, heart- or triangle-shaped foliage. It tends to have a very compact, upright growth habit that looks particularly lush in a small container.

This cultivar gets its name from the starburst-like pattern stamped in the center of each leaf. 

In my opinion, the coloring and physical texture of Fireworks Rex Begonia foliage is some of the best within the species. It holds an Award of Garden Merit and stands out beautifully against other houseplants.


4. Flamenco

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Flamenco’)

  • Leaf Color: Silver, green, red
  • Rarity: Uncommon

Flamenco Rex Begonias have predominantly silver leaves with a blend of red and green veins. The leaf margins are commonly red or green as well.

These Begonias seem to differ greatly in terms of coloring and variegation from one plant to another. While individual genetics play a large role in the appearance of any particular plant, you can also experiment with different levels of light exposure and other factors. Small changes may make a big difference in your ‘Flamenco’ Begonia’s foliage.

Lava Red

5. Lava Red

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Shadow King Lava Red’)

  • Leaf Color: Red
  • Rarity: Rare

Part of the Shadow King line of cultivars, the Lava Red Rex Begonia is incredibly unique. While there are countless varieties with red leaves, this is one of the only ones with exclusively red foliage.

The entire leaf — including the stem and veins — is a solid, crimson red. Exposure to bright, indirect light is recommended to deepen the leaf color.

In addition to its stunning color, this plant is so glossy that it appears almost metallic.

Midnight Magic

6. Midnight Magic

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Midnight Magic’)

  • Leaf Color: Green, red
  • Rarity: Uncommon

While not incredibly popular, ‘Midnight Magic’ is reportedly one of the easiest Rex Begonia cultivars to care for. It was first hybridized in the 1980s but there are still many specimens available to propagate and grow.

The leaves of the Midnight Magic Rex Begonia are very dark green with purple-red undersides. In some light conditions, the top of the leaves appears nearly black. The leaves often have a slight swirl where they meet the petioles.

This cultivar is quite compact and not prone to going leggy (just be sure to provide adequate indirect sunlight). It may produce pink or red flowers with proper care.


7. Putzeys

(Begonia rex ‘Putzeys’)

  • Leaf Color: Green, Silver
  • Rarity: Common

According to the American Begonia Society, this is the ORIGINAL Rex Begonia. It was first cultivated in the Victorian Era and, since then, has been crossed with countless other Begonias to create all of the cultivars we have today.

You can still source this plant, often labeled as a Putzeys Rex Begonia, for your collection. Its silver and green foliage admittedly falls short of many of its successors. However, I think it’s a cool way to own a piece of botanical history!

Pink Splash

8. Pink Splash

(Begonia x tuberhybrida ‘Jurassic Pink Splash’)

  • Leaf Color: Pink, silver, green
  • Rarity: Uncommon

This cultivar is part of the Jurassic line of Begonias and was likely created by crossing a Rex Begonia with a tuberous variety. As a result, it is marketed under multiple classifications.

While Pink Splash has mixed parentage, it is most similar to a classic Rex begonia in terms of appearance and growth habits.

The leaves somewhat resemble those of ‘Fireworks’ but — as the cultivar name implies — also have a saturated splash of fuchsia pink. The amount of pink on each leaf can vary.

Red Kiss

9. Red Kiss

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Red Kiss’)

  • Leaf Color: Red, black
  • Rarity: Uncommon

The Red Kiss Rex Begonia is a beautiful cultivar with deep red and black foliage. Each leaf features a red band bordered by black margins and veins. Some specimens have patches of light green within the red portion.

The leaves are smooth-edged and slightly heart-shaped. This cultivar is also known for being smaller than others within the species.

Red Tango

10. Red Tango

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Red Tango’)

  • Leaf Color: Red, green, black
  • Rarity: Rare

If I tried to describe the Red Tango cultivar in words alone, you’d probably think it looked very similar to the Red Kiss Rex Begonia I just mentioned above. But comparing photos of these two plants reveals that they are very different.

Red Tango Rex Begonias have triangular foliage covered in muted patches of red, green, and black. New leaves tend to be silver and green but darken and change color as they mature.

This cultivar is also more prone to flowering throughout the year than some of the others listed here.

River Nile

11. River Nile

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘River Nile’)

  • Leaf Color: Green, brown
  • Rarity: Common

Despite being far less flashy than many other cultivars, the River Nile Rex Begonia is one of my absolute favorites. It has bright green, ruffled leaves with red or brown margins. The foliage is often swirled.

This Begonia has small white flowers that may emerge during cooler parts of the year. It’s one of the more popular options for outdoor planting in warmer climates.


12. Salsa

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Salsa’)

  • Leaf Color: Silver, green, red
  • Rarity: Common

You might expect this cultivar to have predominantly red leaves. Instead, the Salsa Rex Begonia has silver foliage variegated by dark red and green.

Some of these plants are almost entirely silver while others boast equal amounts of all three colors. The foliage may naturally fade during some parts of the year. You can also experiment with different levels of light exposure to get the most from your Salsa.

Silver Limbo

13. Silver Limbo

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Silver Limbo’)

  • Leaf Color: Silver
  • Rarity: Uncommon

With metallic silver leaves that almost look unnatural, Silver Limbo is one of the most intriguing cultivars currently out there. It’s also not that hard to source from a trusted greenhouse or collector.

While the top of the foliage is solid silver, the undersides are a striking shade of red. This cultivar has smaller and narrower leaves than the average Rex Begonia.

Silver Swirl

14. Silver Swirl

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Jurassic Silver Swirl’)

  • Leaf Color: Silver, black
  • Rarity: Uncommon

Another cultivar developed as part of the Jurassic line, Silver Swirl is dark and dramatic. It boasts swirled leaves with thick bands of silver and brownish-black.

The leaves of this Rex Begonia are rounded and quite large. They also have attractive ruffled edges.


15. Spitfire

(Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Spitfire’)

  • Leaf Color: Pink, green, silver
  • Rarity: Common

The Spitfire Rex Begonia is a multi-colored variety with sharp, arrow-shaped leaves. Most of the foliage is red or pink with wide margins of silver and green. Another strip of pink wraps around the edge of each leaf.

This cultivar is relatively common, so you might even stumble across it at your local plant nursery if you’re lucky.

Begonia Rex Plant Care

In my experience, Rex Begonias are almost exclusively grown as container plants. This is because they are only hardy in very warm climates, or USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12.

Whether you keep your Rex Begonia indoors 24/7 or move it outdoors during the summer months, here’s what you need to know about its care and maintenance:


Rex Begonias thrive in full or partial shade. When grown indoors, these plants grow best in bright, indirect light from a nearby window. 

Water Requirements

These plants like consistent moisture but should never be left in soggy soil. I recommend watering only when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.

Temperature & Humidity

The ideal daytime temperature for a Rex Begonia is about 70°F. They can tolerate nightly temperatures of about 60°F.

Rex Begonias enjoy an average humidity of around 50%. While some gardeners opt to mist their Begonia’s foliage, I generally advise against this as it increases the risk of rot and powdery mildew.


You can successfully grow Rex Begonias in any light, well-draining potting soil.


I recommend a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer applied at half-strength every few weeks during the growing season. Reduce or cease fertilizing in the winter when your Rex Begonia’s growth naturally slows.

FAQs Begonia Rex Varieties

How Many Types Of Rex Begonia Are There?

The Rex Begonia, or Begonia rex-cultorum, is a single plant species that contains thousands of genetic varieties. Currently, there are over 4,000 recorded Rex Begonia varieties in existence. There are likely even more cultivars and hybrids out there that we don’t know about!

Can Rex Begonias Handle Full Sun?

Rex Begonias grow best in bright, indirect light indoors or partial shade outdoors. They can only tolerate short periods of full sun. Too much sunlight is likely to scorch the foliage, which can fade or discolor the unique leaf patterns these plants are known for.