The unusual silver-spotted green leaves of the Begonia maculata with their red undersides are a must for every home and garden. However, these fast-growing plants do have certain requirements to thrive but they are easy peasy to grow and propagate.
Here’s everything you need to know about growing and caring for Begonia maculata.
What Is Begonia Maculata?
The botanical name of Begonia maculata is Begonia maculata var. Wightii. It is a tall Begonia with silver spotted green leaves which are red on the underside. Because of this, it is commonly called the Polka Dot Begonia.
Maculata means “spotted” － the polka dot begonia originates in southeast Brazil and is endemic to the Atlantic rainforest. Bearing white to pinkish flowers, it has become a popular house plant around the world.
How To Grow Begonia Maculata
It requires a bright indirectly lit area in the home but it is susceptible to draughts or wind, so don’t grow it near open windows.
They thrive in fairly high humidity of 60-80%, given their origin but they will do well in any sheltered well lit indoor area. A good tip to increase humidity is to use a pebble tray for the pot to stand on. Place pebbles in a tray with a few inches of water. Place the pot on top of the pebbles (not in the water) and the vapour from the pebble tray will increase humidity around your plant.
They are usually propagated from cuttings but can be grown from seed.
Plant it in a mixture of loamy soil with added clay, perlite and sand in a pot with pebbles at the bottom for good drainage. Begonia’s are prone to root rot so don’t over water them. They prefer moist soil.
Once your plant matures and gets too big for its container, repot it in a pot twice the size of the original.
When To Plant Begonia Maculata
Plant your Begonia between March and April or early spring.
Where To Plant Begonia Maculata
It can be grown indoors in a pot or in the garden. But remember these are tender plants which cannot tolerate cold and wet conditions. So perhaps it’s better to stick to growing them indoors in pots so you can make sure their growing environment is ideal.
How To Plant And Grow Begonia Maculata
The plant can be propagated by leaf or stem cuttings, the usual method of propagation. Take stem cuttings with a clean and sharp knife of about 2-4 inches and at least two leaves on the stem. Place them in a jar of clean water on a window sill. They don’t usually require rooting hormones.
Within a week or two you should see roots forming. These can then be planted into the potting soil as described above.
To take leaf cuttings, snip off a leaf where the leaf stem meets the main stem and place the tip of the leaf stem in a jar of clean water in a bright area. Again you should see roots forming after a week or two. Plant out in the same way.
What Is The Meaning Of Begonia Maculata?
There don’t appear to be any symbolic meanings attached to the said plant. They are grown for their beautiful spotted angel wing-shaped leaves with their eye-catching red undersides. The plant blooms between spring and fall.
Perhaps it is important to mention that begonias are toxic for dogs and cats. So if you have pets that like eating garden plants, then avoid these plants.
How To Care For Your Begonia Maculata
The tender plant prefers good light and dappled shade with small amounts of sunshine. Sunny spots outdoors are not a good idea as the plant scorches easily. This is where they grow best. The leaves provide intense colour when grown in good light, they will not thrive in a dark area.
Water them every 5-7 days (i.e. weekly) just enough to moisten the soil. The soil should be slightly damp, but not soggy.
Fertilise your Begonia in spring as they send up new growth. You can use liquid houseplant food for potted begonias and a balanced 10-10-10 fertiliser for bedding begonias in the garden. Fertilise in spring and summer and every two months in winter and autumn.
Trim off leaves that are fading or have died to keep your plant looking its best.
Stick to a spare watering regime to avoid yellowing leaves and keep an eye out for powdery mildew, aphids or thrips. These can be treated with a spray of diluted dishwashing liquid soap which won’t harm the plant. Garden fungicides can sort out powdery mildew. Follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s label. Spider mites are difficult to spot but they can be treated with a light swab of rubbing alcohol if you pick them up.
Which Types Of Begonia Maculata To Grow In Your Garden
The choice of these striking plants can be a bit overwhelming as there are so many available today. The following types of Begonia maculata are rewarding and pretty:
- Begonia maculata Silver Spot
- Begonia maculata Flamingo Queen
- Begonia maculata Medora
- Begonia maculata Annan Grace
- Cane Begonia maculata Mrs Hashimoto X Maculata.
FAQs About Begonia Maculata
How Do You Care For An Angel Wing Begonia?
To grow well, the plant needs good light, good drainage and temperatures between 18-22 ° C. A weekly light watering to keep the soil moist and regular feeding in spring and summer will keep your plant happy.
How Fast Do Begonia Maculata Grow?
The said plant is a rapid grower and can produce leaves weekly. Some varieties reach a height of over 2 ft.
Are Begonia Maculata Difficult To Grow And Care For?
The plant is not hard to care for but they do have strict requirements to thrive. They prefer good light, humidity above 45% and spare watering to keep the soil moist.
How Do I Get My Begonia Maculata To Flower?
It flowers during in spring and throughout summer. Fertiliser every two weeks in spring and summer and keep the soil slightly moist. Make sure your plant gets enough good light for maximum blooming.
With their long and wing-shaped spotted leaves and their unusual flower show in spring and summer, these long-legged beauties are lovely to look at.
With just a little bit of extra care, the plant is easy to grow and will provide your home or garden with much-needed colour after a long winter.
They are readily available at nurseries and garden shops and are not prohibitively expensive to buy. So, what are you waiting for?