An Angel wing begonia, first found growing in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of South America, is part of the Begoniaceae family. Many of the plants in this family have colorful flowers or beautifully patterned leaves and can be used as indoor houseplants, potted outdoor plants, or planted in the garden. Angel wing begonias make up a large portion of the cane begonia group. These unique plants have several nicknames such as: Angel Leaf Begonia, Spotted Begonia, Spotted Angel Wing Begonia, Angel Begonia, and Dragon Wing Begonia. The plant is a cross between the begonia aconitifolia and the begonia coccinea. All cane begonia plants have long stems with “joints” on them; the leaves and flowers grow out of these joints
Angel Wing Begonia Description
Angel wing begonias are named for their large, “angel wing” shaped, dark green leaves that are often decorated with metallic or frosty silver specks. The underside of the leaf is usually a deep purple or red. These plants produce large, heavy, draping, clusters of delicate, dangling flowers in red, white, orange, or pink. The intensity of the flower and leaf colors depends upon how much light a begonia gets. When still a young, an indoor angel wing begonia is small enough to sit on a table or desk. As the plant matures, the stems can be pruned to create a large bushy floor plant or a beautiful hanging plant. If you have the room and the proper light, an angel wing begonia can grow into a 5ft tree.
Angel Wing Begonia Varieties
Some new angel wing begonia cultivars that can bloom all year, have fragrant flowers, more spectacular looking leaves, and even a delicate scent
Begonia “Splash Splash” has splashes of white on the leaves and produces dark pink and magenta flowers.
Begonia “Charles Jaros” is a smaller, shorter angel wing begonia, growing to about 18″-20,” and produces pink flowers.
Begonia “Silver Wings” has silver spots on it angel wing shaped leaves.
Begonia “Looking Glass” has silver colored, rather than green leaves, with green veins and produces pink flowers.
Begonia “Anna Christine” is a large begonia that can grow as tall as 4ft and produces red flowers.
Begonia “Esther Albertine” is a tall, upright variety that produces large, hanging clusters of pink flowers. It’s wavy, ruffled leaves have silver spots.
Quick Care Tips
Learning how to care for an angel wing begonia is not difficult but you can’t neglect this plant as you might a dracaena or heart-leaf philodendron.
Provide bright indirect light
The soil should be barely moist, but be careful not to over water. Water less in winter.
When flowering, fertilize an angel wing begonia every other week with a liquid plant food high in phosphorus
Temperatures should stay above 55°F in winter
High humidity is a plus
Propagate using stem cuttings
Is an Angel Wing Begonia Poisonous
An angel wing begonia plant is slightly poisonous to cats, dogs, and small children. Read more about common houseplants that are toxic in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants .
Angel wing begonias like bright indirect light but no direct sun. Proper light helps the leaves and flowers develop a more intense color. Insufficient light causes the plant to become leggy and prevents flowering. When light is too intense, the edges of the leaves curl and turn brown.
Be careful not to over-water! If the plant is in a small pot, allow the top 1” of soil to dry out before watering. In a larger pot, allow the top 2”-3” of soil to dry out. Angel wing begonia containers must have drip holes in the bottom for proper drainage and the plant should never sit in water. When over-watered, the leaves turn yellow and fall off.
Feed monthly in the spring and summer when an angel wing begonia is actively growing with a liquid plant food high in potassium. Fertilize every other month during the rest of the year. To prevent leaf burn, feed begonias when the soil is damp and always dilute the food to 1/2 the recommended strength.
Angel wing begonias do well when the temperature is 65°-75°F (18.3°-23.9°C). Temperatures below 50°F (10.0°C) damage leaves and flowers.
Average household humidity is sufficient, Never mist a begonia plant; wet leaves encourage powdery mildew and leaf spot diseases.
Bright indirect light and a fertilizer high in potassium help an Angel wing begonia produce more flowers. Remove dead or fading flowers as soon as they appear.
Mealy bugs are the main pest that infects this plant. Do not use toxic pesticides on a begonia, they will damage the leaves. I recommend using the “green solution” (recipe is in the Glossary of the website) or a commercial insecticidal soap.
Yellow halos on the leaves are a sign of leaf spot disease, a plant bacteria that occurs when plant leaves stay wet or the soil is too soggy. As with all fungal and bacterial diseases, better air circulation, well-drained soil, dry leaves, and less water help control leaf spot disease. Never mist a plant if leaf spot disease is suspected. You can use a commercial fungicide or the or the homemade remedy of putting a tablespoon or two of baking soda and a teaspoon or two of mineral oil in a spray bottle of water. Shake the solution well and then spray all areas of the plant.
Angel Wing begonias like a rich soil that’s a little heavier than the soil used for other begonia plants. A heavy soil helps support the large root system and tall stems. I often use an African Violet mix.
Angel wing begonias like to be a little root-bound. Use a container with drip holes in the bottom that is an inch or two larger than the root ball. Select a heavy clay or ceramic pot that can support the plant as it gets taller.
Prune the older growth yearly during the winter or early spring. This prevents the plant from becoming leggy. New canes (stems) should be left alone. This is also a good time to re-pot your begonia if it has out-grown its existing container. Throughout the year, pinch off dead flowers as soon as they appear.
Stem cuttings are the easiest way to propagate an angel wing begonia. Cut a 3”-5” section from a non-flowering stem. The piece should have two to four nodes on it. Dip the cut end of the stem into a small amount of rooting hormone and plant it in a small container of perlite or sand. Plant about 3 stems per pot to have a bushy plant.
Poisonous Plant Info
Angel Wing begonia plants have a #1 toxicity level due to the insoluble oxalates in the plant.
Angel Wing begonias need very bright indirect light in order to bloom. They also require quite a bit of plant food. Feed your Angel wing begonia monthly with a fertilizer high in potassium diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Increased light and food should encourage your begonia to bloom more.
The leaves on an Angel wing begonia usually turn yellow and fall off when the plant is over-watered. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering. Keep the leaves dry; yellow marks could be the start of Leaf Spot Disease.
Leaving your begonia hanging in an enclosed porch for the winter depends on how low the temperature gets. Angel wing begonias are easily damaged when temperatures go below 50°F (13°C). If the temperature on your porch stays this, you can leave your plant where it is; if not, you need to bring your begonia inside until the weather warms up.
Sounds like our angel wing begonia needs more humidity. I never recommend misting houseplants. I think that keeping the leaves of indoor plants wet encourages plant diseases such as leaf spot. To increase the humidity around a plant, set your begonia on a wet pebble tray. Be sure the begonia is sitting on the pebbles and not in the water. You can also place a small humidifier in the room.