|Begonia 'Caribbean Star' (click for larger image)|
I wish I could claim this as my own hybrid! In March 2012 I found this begonia growing in the greenhouses of Palm Hammock Orchid Estate in Miami, Florida. The plant was labeled only as "PHOE 09177". Owner and begonia breeder Tim Anderson was not available and the staff couldn't give me a name. I assumed it was one of Tim's own hybrids and finally managed to get a name for it from the nursery: 'Caribbean Star'. As I expected it's one of Tim's hybrids but of uncertain parentage; they believe it is a B. diadema hybrid (although I suspect B. deliciosa instead). It's similar to Begonia U358 (sold under the name 'Pewterware' by Plant Delights Nursery) but larger growing and with more distinctive leaf markings.
Interestingly, the plant had fairly small leaves and a tight growth habit in their greenhouses:
In my own garden, planted in the ground in bright shade, the plant has has proven to be a handsome and vigorous plant but with a looser growth habit and much larger leaves:
Best of all, it has proven to be somewhat hardy! My plant survived the winter, albeit a warm one and with a heavy mulch. The plant has not yet bloomed for me, but is budding up and should be blooming shortly.
UPDATE: my plant bloomed with pale pink flowers, starting in late October and blooming until a hard freeze in mid-November: