Begonia (Polka dot plant) - Expert tips
How to care for Begonia: Expert Tips for Thriving Plants
Begonia is one of the most beautiful plants you will ever see, and its foliage is so vivid, colourful and unique. These plants come in various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for any space. It is well known that some Begonias are grown outdoors (in gardens or balconies) due to their beautiful flowers and blooming from spring to autumn. Indoor Begonias are more valued for their foliage and require slightly different care than Begonias grown outdoors.
Fun fact! Begonia plants are considered to bring good luck and prosperity, making them popular choices for feng shui gardens and gifts.
While Begonias are considered easy-to-care-for plants, finding the proper lighting and watering routine can be challenging. However, if you are willing to dedicate a little time to its care, you will be rewarded with its beautiful foliage.
Read our guide to get the best tips for taking care of indoor Begonias.
Begonia care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully
- Avoid overwatering your Begonias. Since they are fairly sensitive to overwatering, they can suffer from root rot.
- Water only after the soil has dried. If you have trouble watering your Begonia, a good rule of thumb is to water it after half of the soil ball is dry.
- Give your Begonia bright, indirect light. The best place for it would be a windowsill or a shelf near a window that gets filtered sunlight.
- Keep away from intense sunlight. Despite being tolerant to some direct sunlight, leaves can burn or turn yellow when exposed to too much of it.
- Keep an eye on the humidity level. Begonias prefer a humid environment, so ensure adequate moisture (especially in winter, when it's the heating season).
- Avoid cold drafts and sudden temperature changes. Begonias are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations and may become stressed as a result.
- Monitor frequently. Look for pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. If necessary, use a natural pest control solution to keep these pests at bay.
- Fertilise your Begonia regularly with a balanced liquid fertiliser. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage on the package and avoid over-fertilising.
- Pinch off the growing tips of your Begonia to encourage branching and a fuller, more compact plant.
- You can encourage flowering by providing your Begonias with plenty of filtered light and fertilising them regularly.
Indoor Begonia types
Begonias are a diverse group of flowering plants that are native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Various Begonias can be grown successfully indoors, including the following:
- Begonia Maculata, also known as the polka dot Begonia, is native to Brazil and is known for its large, heart-shaped leaves that are dotted with small, round markings. One of the pluses of this Begonia is its ability to tolerate low light conditions, making it a good choice for a room with less natural light. However, it does require regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist and may be prone to pests such as mealybugs and aphids.
Begonia Burkillii, also known as the hardy Begonia, is native to South Africa and is known for its large, glossy green leaves and delicate pink or white flowers. One of the pluses of this Begonia is its ability to tolerate a wide range of temperatures, making it a good choice for both warm and cooler climates. However, it may be prone to pests such as aphids and thrips and require regular fertilisation to maintain healthy growth.
Begonia Masoniana, also known as the iron cross Begonia, is native to China and is known for its large, green leaves with distinctive iron cross-shaped markings. One of the pluses of this Begonia is its ability to tolerate low light conditions and drought, making it a good choice for a room with less natural light or for someone who forgets about watering their plants. However, it may be prone to pests such as mealybugs and aphids and require regular fertilisation to maintain healthy growth.
- Begonia Rex, also known as the painted leaf Begonia, is native to tropical regions and is known for its striking, colourful foliage ranging in colour from green to purple to red. One of the pluses of this Begonia is its ability to thrive in a wide range of indoor conditions, making it a good choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. However, it may be prone to pests such as aphids and thrips and require regular fertilisation to maintain healthy growth.
Remember that each species has unique requirements and may be prone to specific pests and diseases. Hence, it is essential to research the care needs of each Begonia before adding it to your collection.
Light & Placement
The Rex Begonias prefer a more shady spot, but the Cane Begonias need bright, indirect sunlight. They will thrive on a windowsill with filtered sunlight or near a south or east-facing window. If the leaves appear scorched, then you can be sure that your Begonia is getting too much sun, and you should move it to a less sunny spot. If your windowsill is too sunny, you can also use a sheer curtain or blind to protect your Begonias.
Too dim conditions can cause Begonias to grow leggy and produce fewer flowers. They may also become pale or yellow due to a lack of light. It is also a good idea to rotate your Begonia periodically to ensure that all parts of the plant are receiving an even amount of light. This will help the plant grow evenly and maintain a healthy shape.
The biggest challenge in growing Begonias is finding the right balance in watering. Ideally, the soil should always be slightly moist, but not too wet because of their sensitive roots. The roots of Begonias are sensitive to overwatering, so it is necessary to let the soil dry between waterings.
One of the easiest ways to determine if your Begonia needs watering is to stick your finger about 2-4 cm into the soil. If your plant's soil feels dry, it's time to water it. A soil moisture meter is also an option. In doubt about when to water, remember that dry soil is better than wet soil.
Use room-temperature water when watering. Water that is too cold can shock the roots of Begonias, causing them to become stressed and wilt. Ensure the leaves do not become too wet when watering, making them susceptible to fungal diseases. The best way to water the Begonia is to moisten the soil around the base of the plant or water it from the bottom.
Begonias thrive at temperatures between 17 and 25°C. In any case, Begonias must not be placed in areas exposed to drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations, as this can cause them to become stressed and cause them to wilt.
In Europe, Begonias can be taken outside in the summer as long as they are protected from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Place the plant in a shaded area for a few days before moving it to a sunnier spot to gradually acclimate it to the outdoors. Before the fall temperatures drop, Begonias should be brought inside to avoid cold damage.
A moderate humidity level of 40-70% is ideal for Begonias. Too low humidity can cause the Begonias' leaves to become dry and wilted, while too high humidity can lead to problems such as root rot and pest infestations.
If you have trouble getting proper air humidity for your Begonia, read our tips on air humidity.
Begonias may need to be repotted if they have outgrown their current pot or if the potting soil has become depleted of nutrients. Generally, Begonias do not need to be transplanted very often, as they prefer to be slightly pot-bound and do not require a lot of root space.
If you think your Begonia may need to be repotted, it is a good idea to do so in the spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. Use a pot slightly larger than the previous one and a well-draining potting mix. Begonias do not like to be disturbed, so it is essential to handle the plant gently and avoid disturbing the roots too much during the repot process.
Begonias love the well-draining potting mix that is rich in nutrients. They prefer slightly acid soil, with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. As Begonias are susceptible to root rot, we recommend using a PLNTS organic potting mix with a layer of hydro grains (or pebbles) at the bottom.
Water the plant with fertiliser every two weeks in spring and summer. This will encourage bigger leaves and encourage them to bloom. For best results, use PLNTS Nutrition liquid plant food.
Having small leaves and slow growth is her way of telling you that it is not getting enough fertiliser to grow properly.
We understand that you are so fond of your Begonia that you want to make more new plants. Luckily, Begonias are relatively easy to propagate, and there are several methods you can use to create new plants from existing ones.
Cuttings from stems and leaves, or division, are the easiest ways to propagate Begonias. These are a few quick overviews of each method:
- Stem cuttings: This is the most common method of propagating Begonias. To propagate Begonias using stem cuttings, start by selecting a healthy stem from a healthy Begonia plant. Cut the stem just below a leaf node (the point where a leaf attaches to the stem) and dip the cut end into the rooting powder. Place the stem cutting into a pot filled with well-draining potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. After several weeks, the cutting should develop roots. Stem cuttings can also be rooted in clean water. Change the water from time to time, and soon you will see how the roots start to develop. Plant the cutting when the roots have already grown larger.
Leaf cuttings: To propagate Begonias using leaf cuttings, start by selecting a healthy leaf from a healthy Begonia plant. Cut the leaf from the plant's stem, preserving as much of the leaf petiole (the stem-like structure that attaches the leaf to the plant) as possible. Place the leaf-cutting into a pot filled with peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite or use a soilless rooting mix. The cutting should take several weeks to develop roots if you keep the potting mixture evenly moist but not soggy.
Division: Some Begonia species, such as rhizomatous Begonias, can be propagated by division. To propagate Begonias using division, start by carefully removing the plant from its pot. Using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, carefully divide the root ball into sections, ensuring each section has at least one growing tip. Plant the divisions in separate pots filled with potting soil and water them well.
Regardless of your chosen method, it is essential to keep the newly propagated Begonias in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight and to water them regularly, but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Gradually expose the plants to more light as they become established. With proper care, your Begonias should grow into healthy, thriving plants.
Most common pests & diseases on Begonias
The main pests and diseases that can affect your Begonias are aphids and powdery mildew. Mildew can often be avoided by relatively harmless preventive treatments with sulphurous products, and an aphid infestation can be tackled with neem oil treatments.
If you want to know more about the right treatments, our PLNTS Doctor will help you! On this page, you will find all the tips and tricks you need when your Begonia shows signs of trouble.
Begonias are a diverse and colorful group of flowering plants that includes many different varieties, each with its unique characteristics and features. The most popular type of begonia is the Begonia Rex Boweri, which is known for its intricately patterned leaves that come in a variety of colors and textures. Other popular varieties include the Begonia Maculata (Polkadot plant), Begonia Burkillii and Begonia Masoniana. Begonias are a stunning and versatile addition to any indoor jungle and are sure to brighten up any space with their colorful blooms and foliage.
Are Begonias toxic for pets or children?
Yes, Begonias are poisonous. The most toxic parts of the plant are the underground tubers and roots, but ingesting too many of the leaves or other parts of the plant is also not good for humans and animals.
Buy your new Begonia at PLNTS.com
At PLNTS.com you can buy Begonias online, like the Begonia Maculata and the Begonia Masoniana. Whether you like your Begonia big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy Begonia online at PLNTS.com.