The introduction of the begonia (in the form of Begonia Boliviensis, rosaflora and Pearcei among others) caused a small storm in the Victorian gardening world. They became instantly popular, and more varieties were imported or created. By 1880 some 150 varieties could be found in gardening catalogues.
All begonias required a light,mellow rich soil. Victorians could grow begonias in pots by mixing together equal quantities of turfy yellow loam, old rotten hotbed manure, and well-rotted and sifted leaf-mould. Some grit could always be added.
Begonias could be planted out into the garden from June onwards in a sheltered, sunny position. Once the plant had finished flowering, then the roots could be dug up and stored in sand on a shelf in the greenhouse. In February or March the tubers could be planted out in pots to start growing on (the tubers not to be any deeper than three inches) to be eventually restored to the garden when it was warm enough.
Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols.