A Begonia plant, part of the Begoniaceae family, is often considered to be an outdoor plant, but they also make excellent indoor plants that can bloom the entire year. Begonia plants originally came from the tropical, moist regions of southern Asia, Africa, South America, and Central America which is why they require such high humidity to grow well. There are over 1500 varieties of begonia plants that fall into the categories of caned, rhizomatous, or tuberous. Each of these varieties have different care requirements but they all prefer warm temperatures, barely moist soil, bright, indirect light but no direct sun.
Begonia Plant Description
The leaves of some begonia plants, such as the Begonia Rex or the Iron Cross Begonia, have extraordinarily colorful foliage. Other varieties, such as the Rieger Begonia have broad green leaves and beautiful flowers. There are some such as the Angel Wing Begonia, that have both lovely flowers and outstanding leaves.
Rhizomatous Begonias have large, often colorful leaves that grow out of rhizomes, thick, fuzzy horizontal, stem-like growths that produces stems, roots and stores food for the plant.
A Cane Begonia is named for the tough, bamboo-like plant stems. The angel wing begonia is an example of a cane begonia.
B. Angel Wing B. Dancing Girl B. Looking Glass B. Irian Java
A Tuberous Begonia develops from a from a tuber which is an enlarged stem. Like a rhizome, a tuber also stores food for the plant. A tuberous begonia produces beautiful flowers and sometimes blooms for up to three or four months.
Quick Begonia Plant Care Tips
Medium to bright indirect light, direct sun in the morning only
Allow soil to partially dry out before watering, keep water off the leaves, and reduce water in winter
Propagated easily by stem cuttings
Provide high humidity
Brighter the indirect light, the more flowers a begonia plant produces
A begonia plant is a slightly poisonous plant and toxic to dogs and cats. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
Although certain varieties of begonia can adapt to lower light, most begonias need medium to bright indirect light. The better the light, the more flowers a begonia plant produces. Leaves and flowers drop off when the light is too low.
Water a begonia well and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. Too much water causes mildew, mold, and permanent root damage. Water dripped on the leaves may cause leaf-rot.
Feed a Begonia plant monthly with a fertilizer high in phosphorous at 1/2 the recommended strength.
Begonias plants do well in cool temperatures between 65°-75°.
A Begonia needs a great deal of humidity to thrive. You can increase the humidity by placing the plant on a wet pebble tray, by putting a small humidifier near the plant, or by grouping several plants close to each other and creating a mini- greenhouse effect.
The brighter the light, the more flowers a begonia produces.
Begonia plants are relatively pest-free.
Because of the high humidity begonia plants require, powdery mildew is a major problem. A commercial fungicide is usually the best way to get rid of powdery mildew on a begonia plant. To help prevent mildew and mold provide good air circulation and keep the leaves dry.
Begonia plants need a rich well-aerated soil that drains quickly. African Violet soil is a good choice.
Use a clay or terra cotta pot for a begonia; this helps the soil dry out quickly and prevents root-rot.
Immediately remove any dead leaves, stems, and flowers from a Begonia Plant to help prevent mold and mildew. Prune long stems to keep a Begonia Plant compact and full.
Begonia Plants are easily propagated from stem tip or leaf cuttings.
Poisonous Plant Info
Begonias are poisonous plants with a #1 toxicity level. They are especially toxic to dogs and cats.
Massive leaf droppage on a Begonia Plant is usually caused by sudden changes in the environment or in the care of the plant; for example, temperatures that go from cold to hot, soil goes from very dry to very wet, light changes from very bright to very dark.
The white marks on the leaves of the Begonia Plant usually mean the plant is getting burned by too much sunlight. Some Begonia Plants can gradually be introduced to direct sun, but most Begonias prefer bright indirect light.
Begonias, like Peace Lilies, tend to bloom more often in bright light and when under a little stress. Move your Begonia Plant to brighter location, cut back on your fertilizer, and allow the soil dry out a bit more. This should encourage your Begonia Plant to produce more flowers.
The grey powder on the leaves of your Begonia Plant are an indication of the plant disease powdery mildew. Remove any diseased leaves on your Begonia Plant and any leaves that have dropped onto the soil, allow the soil to dry out more, keep the leaves dry, provide good air circulation, and spray your Begonia Plant with a commercial Fungicide.