Common Name: Polka Dot Plant
Botanical name: Begonia Maculata
Begonias are pretty well known as outdoor annual plants, but some varieties are more common as houseplants. Houseplant variety Begonias usually have flashy leaves that showcase a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns and some even feature unique textures. The leaves are commonly the focal point of houseplant Begonias, as opposed to the flowers which are usually the draw for outdoor plants.
There are thousands of different types of Begonia and each and everyone is breathtakingly beautiful. These tropical and subtropical plants can be particular about their care, but once you get a handle on what they like, and don't like, they can be easy to maintain.
Important! Begonia are poisonous if ingested, so be very careful if you have pets and/or small children.
Medium to bright indirect light is ideal for Begonia houseplants. Light helps draw out the variegation of the leaves, so the plant may look a bit drab if placed in an area without enough light. Direct light should be avoided, as this can damage and singe the leaves.
Determining when to water a Begonia can be a challenge for new (or at least new to Begonia) plant owners. This is a type of plant that likes consistently damp soil. Don't allow the soil to completely dry out, but it's important to let the soil somewhat dry out.
Wait to water until the top couple of inches of soil are dry. When you do water, completely saturate the soil until water runs through the drainage holes in the pot. Make sure to empty the cache pot or the saucer, so the plant is not sitting in water.
Anything from 60-75 degrees is good for Begonia houseplants. These plants like to stay warm, and generally comfortable room temperature is fine. When grown indoors, these plants can tolerate air conditioning, but they would much rather spend their summer on a porch or patio. Avoid placing a Begonia in an area with drafts or temperature fluctuations, like near exterior doors and heating or cooling vents.
If you place your Begonia outdoors for the summer, wait until the temperature is consistently above 60 degrees. Also, make sure to place the plant in a spot that will not receive direct light.
Begonia houseplants thrive with high humidity. The Begonia is a plant that will really appreciate placement in a steamy bathroom or busy kitchen. If you notice the leaves drying out and turning brown along the edges, then you may need to bring in a humidifier or a saucer with pebbles and water to increase the dampness in the air around the plant.
Use a ¼ strength complete liquid fertilizer every other week to keep your Begonia looking lush and amazing. Fertilize during the spring and summer when the plant is pushing out new growth. You can take a break from fertilizing the plant during the fall and winter.
- Begonias can be propagated through cuttings. Simply snip off a section of stem with at least one leaf and place the cut end in water or soil.
- Overwatering is a common problem for Begonias. As much as these houseplants like a nice long drink, too much water is potentially more of a problem then not enough. To try to prevent overwatering your Begonia, wait until the leaves begin to droop slightly. This is an indication the plant needs water.
- Begonias love lots of humidity, but they do best when the leaves remain dry. These plants can be prone to mildew, so do not mist the leaves. Also, when watering a Begonia, water the soil and not the plant itself.