(aka. ‘Brazilian Lady’)
Begonia thelmae x Begonia peruviana
Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ is a registered cultivar developed by Francis Michelson in 1977 by crossing Begonia thelmae (female parent) with Begonia peruviana (male parent). I believe the name ‘Brazilian Lady’ was made up by a plant company and is NOT a “registered” cultivar.
Begonia peruviana A.DC. is also an accepted scientific name. It was named and described by Alphonse Louis Pierre Pyramus de Candolle in Annales des Sciences Naturelles in 1859.
The genus, Begonia L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists 1,897 species in the Begonia genus (as of 1-9-21 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the plant family Begoniaceae with 2 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
Before I continue, I want to give special thanks to Rick Schoellhorn (Proven Winners) for helping me out with the correct names of this Begonia (and a few others). He sent me the link to the International Database of the Begoniaceae. The Record List includes 19,401 different species and cultivars of Begonias…
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
I was given 2 cuttings of this beautiful Begonia hybrid by the owner of Pleasant Acres Nursery in Leland, Mississippi in 2012. I had been living at the mansion in Leland since December 2008 and didn’t even know Pleasant Acres was there until 2012. We started trading plants.
She didn’t know the name of the Begonia, so for a long time, I called it Begonia #2. I had already been given a very nice Begonia by a neighbor, also unnamed, and I called it Begonia #1. I really love those leaves!
I brought my Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’ with me when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013. I was surprised it didn’t go dormant (or die) after the 8-9 hour trip in a 30-degree trailer.
After I returned to Missouri and started my first Belmont Rooster blog in 2013, a fellow blogger told me this Begonia was ‘Brazilian Lady’. I looked up the name online and it appeared he was right. SO, I changed all the captions with the photos (on this page and on my computer) to Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’.
I always liked Begonias even as a kid. My mother and grandmother had a few that very very large and very old. So, when given an opportunity to bring cuttings home, I readily accepted even though I didn’t have a name. Having a blog, even then, knowing the names of plants was very important so I could write about them. When you don’t have a name you have to do some work which isn’t always that easy.
There is plenty online about growing Begonias from sellers of various cultivars and hybrids. There are over 1,700 accepted species of Begonias and over 10,000 cultivars of making the genus one of the largest. I found out Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’ is was a hybrid between Begonia thelmae and either Begonia juliana or Begonia peruviana. Several websites said one or the other so I wasn’t sure which was correct.
Then I saw the name Begonia withlachoochee ‘Brazilian Lady’ and a few sites that say Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’… I thought, “Now what is withlachoochee? Could there be such a species name?”
I ran across a page from EOL (Encyclopedia of Life), which is an “OFFICIAL” site from folks that know what they are talking about. They, in fact, list Begonia withlacoochee ‘Brazilian Lady’ with information submitted from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2007. There is a photo with a description, but it is too blurry to read. You can click HERE to see for yourself. (Hmmm… I tried that link when I was updating this page on 1-10-21 and it says “ERRORS#not_found”…).
FINALLY A BREAKTHROUGH…
I received a message from Rick Schoellhorn on September 8, 2020, with information about the history of the Begonia ‘Frosty’. I followed up with an email and as it turned out he works for Proven Winners (which is a division of Walters Gardens). Then, when I was updating the Begonia pages on January 8-10, I sent him another email and quizzed him about the other Begonia cultivars including Begonia withlacoochee ‘Brazilian Lady’. He said, “it sure looks a lot like ‘Withlacoochee (a south Florida Frances Michelson hybrid). I looked at the pictures and they look identical to me and very similar to other Frances Michelson hybrids, likely they are the same, but if that’s the case then B. ‘Withlacoochee’ is the correct name since Francis named his hybrids after towns in Florida.” He gave me the link to ‘Brazilian Lady’ on The International Database for the Begoniaceae which showed photos like this plant. Then I clicked on “Find” and typed in Withlacoochee and found information about the cultivar…
As it turns out… “Withlacoochee” is NOT a species name… Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ is a registered cultivar developed by Francis Michelson in 1977 by crossing Begonia thelmae and Begonia peruviana. Apparently, the name ‘Brazilian Lady’ was made up by a plant company and IS NOT a registered cultivar… Then I had to change all the captions AGAIN… I may miss a few.
I had been having some trouble with crickets munching on succulents, so I brought the Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’ inside for a while on August 23, 2013. I didn’t want the crickets snacking on this plant!
When I thought the coast was clear, I moved it back outside again until the temperatures started getting cooler.
Begonias need a nice well-drained potting soil that should not be allowed to dry completely. I say that because that is what they prefer not necessarily what happens. There were many times where their soil dried out to the point they would start drooping. They are pretty forgiving, though, as long as you pay attention and give them a drink.
Then I had to bring it back inside in October. I was a bit paranoid about the cooler weather approaching when I moved back to Missouri, especially the first fall I was back. I had to get used to an earlier frost again… Knowing that some plants can go dormant at the drop of your hat.
I am not sure what happened with the Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’ but there are no photos of it in 2014. I thought it went dormant then came back up in the spring, but it may have died. I didn’t take many photos in 2014 and then later in the summer I gave up most of my plants then had to start over.
I was so glad to find Wagler’s Greenhouse had another Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ again in 2017. Of course, I had to bring one home. I had not had one of these awesome Begonias as a companion for several years.
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30 to 40º F/-1.1 to 4.5° C).
Size: 24-36” tall and wide.
Light: Light to part shade.
Soil: Well-drained potting soil.
Water: Average to moderate.
Flowers: White flowers year round.
Propagation: Stem cuttings.
Uses: Pots or hanging baskets. They will need room.
I had my Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’ behind the shed under an old Elm tree where it received a little morning sun then light to part shade the rest of the day. It is kind of hard to describe the light there because while the leaves from the Elm tree were higher up (which means “light shade”), as the summer progressed the Japanese Beetles ate holes in the leaves which made more filtered light. Then as the sun passed overhead, the plants had more shade from the shed.
The leaves of the Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ (aka. ‘Brazilian Lady’) are a nice dark green with lighter green veins. The undersides of the leaves are a nice maroon color.
The nighttime temperatures started getting cooler and I knew soon I would have to move the potted plants inside for the winter. Our house doesn’t have many good places for plants in the winter, especially for those plants that can be picky about the temperature and the amount of light they receive.
As temperatures started getting cooler, I moved all the potted plants inside for the winter. Most of the cactus and succulents will be moved upstairs while the Begonias and a few other plants will remain in the basement. The Alocasia are on the other side of the basement.
All the Begonias made it through the winter in the basement with flying colors. When temperatures warmed up enough, I moved the plants back outside where they usually are for the summer. I could have cut the Begonias back, but I decided to let them grow as they were. I did get Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ re-potted.
I think it is a good idea to re-pot Begonias once a year, especially if you use potting soil with a timed-release fertilizer, preferably in the spring. If you don’t want to re-pot with fresh potting soil, then adding a water-soluble fertilizer to their water off and on is a good idea. After you have had your Begonia for a year or so, remove it from the pot to check to see if it is root-bound. If so, then transferring it to a larger pot may be a good idea.
We had a bad Japanese Beetle infestation, worse than in 2017. They didn’t bother the plants in 2017, but they did in 2018. The above photo shows them on the Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’ on July 4. Good thing I noticed them when I did.
I had to move most of the potted plants to the front porch on July 4. The plant tables were under a Chinese Elm tree that the beetles were feeding on. Even though the beetle population would drastically reduce within a few days, they changed the amount of light in this area from light to part shade to nearly full sun. So, I would have needed to move most of the plants anyway.
The Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ (aka. ‘Brazilian Lady’) is doing well on the front porch now.
Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ (aka. ‘Brazilian Lady’) flowering up a storm on 8-26-18.
Begonia ‘Withlacoochee’ (aka ‘Brazilian Lady’) is easy to grow and undemanding. Just follow a few basic rules and you will enjoy this plant. I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you notice I made an error, please let me know.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE
(GENUS/B. thelmae/B. peruviana)
INTERNATIONAL DATABASE OF THE BEGONIACEAE
THE NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION
GARDENING KNOW HOW
GET BUSY GARDENING