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Begonia is a genus of plants containing over 2,000 different and unique species, native to South and Central American, African and southern Asian tropical and subtropical environments. They are collected and grown for their striking foliage. With so many different types of Begonias, each with their own unique characteristics, we will group them here in to 3 main categories: Cane or Cane-like (Angelwing and Dragon wing), Rex and Rhizomatous.
Rex and Rhizomatous Begonias are often confused from one another, and for all intents and purposes here, we will group them together, as they are very similar. These Begonias are sometimes referred to as 'Painted Leaf' or 'Fancy Leaf' Begonias. They do flower, however, they are regularly grown and collected as stunning houseplants. They tend to grow in a mounding habit and can reach sizes of 3' in diameter or more. The leaves on Rex and Rhizomatous Begonias range from very small, to 12-18" in diameter and boast bright colors, incredible, contrasting patterns and unique textures. Most Rex and Rhizomatous Begonias also have very visible hairs, or trichomes on their leaves and stems.
Angelwing and Dragon wing Begonias are immediately noticeable by their leaves, growing in pairs, coming to points, and resembling a pair of wings. These Begonias can grow massive, reaching heights of 10' or more with a spread of almost just as much. Wonderful houseplants, Angelwing and Dragon wing Begonias will need pruning and most likely, staking, to keep them under control.
All Begonias are tropical or subtropical and enjoy bright, indirect sunlight, moderately moist soil and moderate to higher humidity levels.
An East facing window is a perfect place to grow your Begonias. Rotating every month may be needed, to keep your plants growing uniformly and to prevent too much of a lean. They do enjoy the morning sun, but do not generally tolerate any direct sunlight after mid morning, especially in warmer environments.
For watering, Begonias want to be kept moderately moist at all times. Do not allow your Begonias to dry out completely, as they will wilt, brown and drop leaves quickly. An evenly moist soil is best, and a planter with drainage is the best option so that excess water does not pool at the bottom of the pot, causing root issues.
Because Rex and Rhizomatous Begonias have many trichomes on their leaves and stems, they do prefer to not get and remain wet. We find that for these varieties, watering from the bottom, and allowing the soil to take the water up, as opposed to pouring water on to the plant, is best. Again, be sure not to let your Begonia sit in too much water for too long. Using a tray or saucer, add water to the base of the pot and allow the plant to absorb the water for roughly 20 minutes. At that time, discard any remaining water from the saucer, so that the soil can drain, if needed, and get air.
While it is not completely necessary, you can use a general purpose, high quality fertilizer from Spring through Fall. We recommend diluting the fertilizer to about 50% strength. Fish Head Farms soil conditioner is a great option to use year round to provide essential nutrients and promote strong, healthy growth.
A loose, well draining soil or soilless mix is ideal. A peat based mixture with lots of perlite, vermiculite or sand will do the trick. Adding perlite or vermiculite to a commercial pre-mixed soil with suffice just fine as well.
If happy, Begonias are moderate growers and should probably be transplanted once a year, in the Spring or early Summer. Be sure to only increase the size of your pot by 1-2" in diameter each time you repot. If you have just recently purchased your plant, do not repot it for at least 6 months.
The most common pest issues for Begonias would be Mealy Bugs. It is always best practice to isolate any new plants you bring in to your home for a few weeks to watch for little pests. If you were to find any, see our At Home Pest Recipes here.
Begonias of all types can be propagated by dividing the new plants from the mother plant, at the root level, as long as they have a few leaves on them, as well as from leaf and stem cuttings. Most Begonias stems will root quickly in water. When experimenting with this, be sure to use a healthy leaf and clean tools to make your cut. If propagating in water, purified or distilled is the best option and be sure to change your water out every 24-48 hours to prevent bacteria and mold.
If you have any more questions, or need further assistance, please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email!