This plant was hybridized by Patrick Worley in 1981 using B. luxurians x gehrtii. He introduced it in 1985. It takes after its “mama” in that it is a shrub, but like “papa” its leaves are pustulated. Unlike either parent, the leaves are much like the various other hybrids having B. luxurians in their parentage (B. ‘Lady Clare’, ‘Mrs. Fred T. Scripps’, and “Lee’s, Stewart’s and Rudy’s Luxurians”).

B. ‘Paul Hernandez’ is not a plant for those with limited space on a windowsill. It, like B. luxurians, can get very, very big if grown where it likes it. There was a plant at Antonelli Brothers that was at least eight feet tall and equally wide. For me it is an easy, if somewhat slow grower in a pot. This year it is staying outside for the winter, and so far (December) is showing no signs of mildew. While protected, it also is showing some new growth. Like all begonias, mealybugs like it.

B. ‘Paul Hernandez’ exhibited by Mary Sakamoto in the show in Los Angeles in 1999. | Photo Credit: Brad Thompson

A giant B. ‘Paul Henandez’ seen in Elda Regimbal’s garden in 1999. | Photo Credit: Brad Thompson

It is easy to start from stem cuttings, but I’ve never been able to successfully get a plant from a leaf, a characteristic it shares with “papa” B. gehrtii. Leaves root, but no plant forms. I’ve never tried parts of leaves, only whole leaves.

While my plant has never bloomed, it has large clusters of small white flowers. Since it is a hybrid, the only way to propagate it is vegetatively.

To produce a full plant, it probably should be pinched. However, I cut it back in the spring to propagate, and this also forces new growth from below the soil.

In general this is an easy plant to grow with no special requirements. Given ample light the leaves take on a red color, less light and the leaves stay a light olive green.