A Begonia Rex (Begonia rex-cultorum) is also called a Painted-Leaf Begonia, Fancy-Leaf Begonia, or King Begonia. This is a colorful, perennial, flowering plant that originally came from India. Today there are hundreds of hybrid varieties of the Begonia rex sold in stores throughout the world.
Begonia Rex Description
Most begonia plants are grown for their lovely flowers, though some have pretty leaves as well. A Begonia Rex, is grown for its large, colorful, patterned leaves rather than its small, pink and white “winter” flowers. The leaves come in a variety of shapes such as oval, spear-shaped, heart-shaped, and star-shaped. The leathery, ruffled, or puckered leaves can be as small as ½ inch or as large as 10”-12;” though the average leaf size is usually 4”- 6” wide and 5”-7” long. It’s the dramatic color combinations on the leaves that sets ta Begonia Rex apart from the usual green- leafed houseplant. Splashes, swirls, spots, and stripes of red, pink, silver, purple, bronze, green, yellow, orange decorate the leaves.
Begonia Rex Varieties
Some on my favorite Begonia Rex varieties are:
Begonia Metallica, is a bushy, upright begonia with metallic, dark green leaves and red veins.
Begonia Iron Cross, sometimes called a Begonia masoniana, has a distinctive dark burgundy, almost brown design in the center of it leaves that resembles a German iron cross.
Begonia “Tiger Paws” or “Eye Lash begonia” has white, eye lash looking hairs on the edge of chocolate colored leaves with bright green paw prints on them.
Begonia Cleopatra or Begonia Maphil has medium-sized, smooth, glistening, bronze leaves.
Quick Care Tips
A Begonia Rex is a little difficult to care for especially if you are new to houseplants, but don’t give up. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
High humidity is a must to keep the beautiful leaves looking good.
A Begonia Rex needs bright indirect light most of the year and morning sun in the winter.
The leaves look faded when the plant is root-bound in a small or is sitting in too much direct sun.
A Begonia Rex likes to be warm at all times.
A Begonia Rex plant is a slightly poisonous plant and toxic to small children, cats, dogs, and other pets. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants
The vibrant colored leaves of a Begonia Rex start to fade and look bleached when it is getting too much direct sun. Do not put a Begonia where it gets a southern or even a western exposure. Move your Begonia Rex to an eastern exposure and the new leaves will be fine. There is nothing you can do for the old damaged leaves.
The best way to get powdery mildew off of your Begonia Rex is to remove the diseased leaves on the plant and any dead leaves in the soil. Spray the entire plant with a Fungicide, keep the leaves free of moisture, and provide good air circulation around the plant.
You can easily propagate a Begonia Rex from stem and leaf cuttings and also by dividing the rhizomes.