Begonia maculata is wonderful as summer container specimen that effortlessly lights up shady areas with lush leaves and masses of flowers. Begonias are one of the most prevalently cultivated plants in both tropical and subtropical climates. Begonias are also a popular choice in cooler climates as an indoor plant-a great way to brighten up your plant.
The genus Begonia (Begonia ssp), named after a French botanist, includes many different species that selecting takes longer than planting. More than 2000 types of begonias exist and some 8000 different cultivars.
Begonia maculata is originally native to Mexico, Asia, South Africa and Central America. This plant spectacularly shines as an exquisite indoor treasure. This article provides a detailed overview of everything important that you need to have knowledge of in as far as Begonia Maculata is concerned.
Begonia maculata Plant Profile
|Scientific Name||Begonia Maculata|
|Common Name||Polka Dot Begonia, Spotted Begonia, Trout Begonia.|
|Light||Bright, indirect light|
|Watering||Water at least 1-2 times a week|
|Soil||A light houseplant potting mix is ideal for begonias.|
|Soil PH||Acidic to neutral (6.0-7.0)|
|Temperature||Between 65oF (18oC) and 86oF (30oC)|
|Fertilizer||Top dress in spring with a slow-release organic all-purpose fertilizer and again in mid-summer.|
|Humidity||Thrives in high humidity areas
|Propagation||Through Stem cuttings or seeds.|
|Pruning||At least twice per year to maintain compact growth.|
|Diseases And Pests||Slugs, powdery mildew, bacterial leaf spot, stem and root rot.|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets and people if ingested in large quantities.|
Propagation Of The Begonia Maculata
Propagation involves taking portions of a begonia plant and rooting them to grow into new plants. Some types of propagation require more skill than others or more specialized conditions. However, when it comes to begonia maculata, anyone should be able to propagate it without much difficulty. Begonias require partial shade and a well-drained, humus-rich soil to prosper in your yard.
There are three major ways of propagating the Begonia maculata. They include leaf, stem cutting and planting seeds. Among the three, leaf and stem cutting are the easiest as long as soil moisture and humidity is within the required levels.
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Propagation Of Begonia Maculata From Leaf Cuttings
- Snip a few fresh leaves from a well established (matured) plant.
- Use a sharp clean knife to slice the leaves into some wedge-like structure.
- Make sure there are veins in each wedge piece.
- Fill a small pot with a well-drained soil. You can consider having a mixture of vermiculite, peat and perlite moss.
- Stick the leaf wedges into the soil and place the pot in a plastic bag in a bright and warm place away from direct sunlight.
- Ensure that the soil has some moisture to keep the cuttings moist. Avoid overwatering as this can result to rotting of the wedges.
- After a period of between 4 and 6 weeks, apply diluted liquid fertilizer, at one-half the dosage rate prescribed on the product label, once two leaves emerge from the cutting.
- Keep the young plants in a warm location with bright, indirect light.
Propagation Of Begonia Maculata From Seeds
Just like many other plants, propagating begonia maculata from the seeds rather than buying transplants from a grower, means you will have better varietal selection to choose from and you will get a lot more bang for your buck.
- Propagating begonia maculata from its seeds usually takes time and is very involving. The plants are prone to developing fungal diseases including damping off and botrytis.
- Begonia maculata seeds are very tiny and you need to use new seedling trays or flats to plant begonia maculata from seeds.
- Use sterile potting soil that’s formulated specifically for seed starting.
- Fill your seed trays with sterile potting mix.
- Broadcast the seeds across the surface of the potting mix and press them against the surface of the soil with your fingertips or a flat piece of cardboard. Avoid covering the seeds.
- Place the seed trays under a shade with maximum light.
- After a period of between 4 to 6 weeks, your seedlings will have germinated enough for transplanting.
- Begonia maculata seeds need to be transplanted when they are still young.
Propagating Begonia Maculata From Stem Cuttings
Begonia Maculata can also be propagated from the stem cuttings commonly referred to as rhizomes. Rhizomes are long thick stems that can be grown under the soil.
- Pull up the horizontal rhizome of the begonia from the soil.
- Make cutting sections on the rhizome with a sharp, lean paring knife about 1 to 2 inches in length.
- Remove leaf stems from the cutting sections.
- Fill a seedling pot with peat-based potting mix. Ensure that the soil line is ½ inch from the top rim.
- Place one rhizome in each seedling pot. Make sure the cutting is laid horizontally and the leaf scar, bud or old stem base is facing upward.
- Tamp the soil gently around the cutting base with your fingertips.
- Place the cuttings in a shaded, warm location. This may be outside in a covered potting area or indoors in an area with bright light.
- Monitor the cuttings and the soil for the next 6 to 10 weeks, keeping the soil moist.
- If cuttings successfully root, you will see a small leaf emerging from either the leaf scar of the cutting or the cut edge.
- Cuttings that fail to create young new leaves after between 14 to 16 weeks should be thrown away.
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How To Effectively Care For Begonia Maculata
Light is a very necessarily component not only for the growth of Begonia maculata but for the growth of other plants as well. Begonia maculata when grown as either an indoor or outdoor plant prefers a location or position that receives bright, indirect light, such as a few feet away from a window or on the balcony. Avoid positioning the plant where direct sun call fall on its leaves.
Begonia maculata will display signs of stress if the daily sunlight amount becomes too intense. Some of the signs may include leaf bleaching; this is whereby the deep green foliage turns yellowish-white. Other signs may include wilting, leaf curling and stunted growth. You need to move the plant’s location, if possible, keep it indoors in a palace with bright and indirect light. You may also keep it outdoor under a shade.
Proper watering of the begonia maculata is one of the tricky parts of successful begonia plant care. This is because begonia maculata requires water to grow and bloom effectively, however they also abhor being overwatered and thus it can be tricky to balance these affair of never having the soil mix too dry or too moist.
The main rule of the thumb for watering begonia maculata is not to let the soil dry out completely. Poke your finger in soil, if your finger feels dry to your first knuckle, then it’s the best time to water. Remember to avoid overwatering, too much water can cause the green foliage to turn yellow and eventually drop, it can also result to root rot and death of the begonia plant.
During summer, water your begonia regularly at least once a week. During winter, begonia maculata plant is known to go dormant the entire period, therefore water your plant at most once a month during this period.
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Begonia maculata can be grown in any type of soil, as long as the soil is free draining and holds some level of moisture for a considerable period of time. Heavy clay soil that becomes waterlogged is unsuitable for growing begonia, as it can result to stem and root rot.
In the pots, use a light free draining general purpose potting soil or a potting mix containing coco coir, perlite, wood chips or vermiculite. An African violet potting mix would also work well for growing begonias. You can also combine clay, perlite and loamy soil to create a begonia potting mix.
More importantly, use peat moss in your soil mix especially if you intent to under water the plant most of the time. Peat moss is known to have high moisture retention capacity. For outdoor begonia, you can mix your soil with compost, worm casting or peat moss.
Begonia maculata prefer daily temperatures around 75oF (degrees Fahrenheit) and overnight low in the mid-60s, but they can tolerate higher temperatures with protection from hash sun rays.
During winter, when temperatures starts to dropping to below 50oF, remove your potted begonia maculata from outdoors, bring them indoors to a cool porch or basement. Temperatures dips below 50 oF ( degrees Fahrenheit) can damage begonias and prolonged cold snaps can weaken or result to their death.
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Apply a balanced fertilizer –Nitrogen, Phosphorus and potassium in equal quantities. A balanced fertilizer is necessary as it will keep the spotted green and silver foliage healthy and vibrant. Apply the fertilizer in dilute form at plant’s base least every three or four weeks. Irrigate before and after applying the liquid fertilizer.
Reduce the fertilizer application in late autumn to one dose a month. Stop all fertilizer use when winter arrives, because begonia maculata do not grow or use fertilizer efficiently at temperatures below 58oF. Begin again the process of fertilizer application the following spring.
Regular pruning is very necessary to in order to encourage growth of spectacular bushy potted begonia maculata plant. Pruning makes begonias to grow outward rather than upward. More importantly, deadheading the faded flowers also helps to encourage new blooms.
The most appropriate time to prune a begonia maculata plant is in late fall, because season of active growth has finished and the plant is headed into resting phase (dormancy) during the winter. To prune your plant, pinch about one-half inch from the top of the stem and by so doing, your plant will grow bushier because a few stems will grow in place of one.
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Most plant species require fairly high humidity, up to around 70-90%. Too little moisture in air can result to plant dryness and death. If you live in a humid environment then the moisture in the air should be enough to keep your plant healthy, however if you live in areas with dry air, then you might find yourself in position of devising ways to keep the air moist for the sake of your plant.
The three common ways of getting the moisture level right for your plants include: use of a humidifier, placing on a pebble water tray or planting them together with other plants.
Just like other plants, begonia maculata requires at least 55% humidity which is indeed more than the average room humidity. The most challenging period of the year for caring begonia maculata is during the winter. This is because household heating dries up the air moisture and if care is not taken, your begonia is more likely to dry up or die.
During this time, it is advisable to use a room humidifier to improve the humidity levels in your room. However, if you don’t have a humidifier or can’t afford to buy one, you can create a humidifying water tray. To achieve this, place a layer of pebbles in a shallow tray, then pour in enough water, almost half-way the pebbles. Now, you will need to place the pot on the pebbles and therefore, as water evaporates naturally, it will provide the necessarily air moisture for the leaves.
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Additional Care For Begonia Maculata
- Browning edges of leaves is a clear sign that the plant has been scorched by direct sunlight. You must always ensure that the plant receives enough bright but indirect light.
- Spotting or yellowing leaves is a clear indication that the plant (Begonia maculata) has been overwatered. Makes an effort to properly drain the plant soil after watering and also during the winter, allow its top-soil to dry.
- Wilting or drooping leaves– Under-watering is usually the main cause of droopy leaves on begonia maculata. This phenomenon can also happen after the plant has been repotted or if the surrounding temperature is getting hot.
- Curling Leaves– A number of factors are known to be responsible for curling leaves in all types of begonias. You need to check the leaves especially on the undersides to make sure there are no bugs on the leaves. Curling can also be due to lack of humidity, improper watering or too much sunshine.
- Leaves Turning White/Faded Leaves: White or faded leaves; is usually due to the fact that, begonia plant is getting too much direct sunlight. You need to move the plant to a location with bright, indirect light. This could be indoors or in a shade spot outside.
- Not Flowering: The problem of no flowers could be either due to light, lack of fertilizer or use of a wrong type of fertilizer.
- Flowers Turning Brown: Begonia flowers turn brown as they begin to die back, which is perfectly normal. Cut out the brown/faded flowers regularly to encourage fresh new blooms.
Repotting Begonia Maculata
Repotting a plant is very necessary for the health and growth of a plant. It not only entails changing a plant’s current planter but also changing its soil or potting mix. This helps to refresh the soil, give the roots more room to breathe and improve drainage. Here is how to repot a begonia maculata plant.
- Gently remove the plant from the pot, taking enough precaution not to damage the plant stem or roots.
- Shake off the excess soil and loosen the roots.
- Brush of the excess soil from the plant with your hand; make sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process.
- Hold the begonia maculata plant in the new pot and fill with new, moist fresh potting mix, spreading the roots out as you repot.
- Ensure that the plant is at the same height as it was in the previous pot.
- Water the plant with enough water and only fertilize after four weeks.
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Begonia Maculata Care: Diseases And Pests
Just like other plants and trees, begonia too is susceptible to pests and various fungal and bacterial diseases. Common disease and pests that affect vitality of growth of begonia maculata include:
Powdery mildew is fungal disease common throughout the United States. It is often found on many plants and is easily recognizable. Low soil moisture combined with high humidity levels at the plant surface favors this disease.
The disease starts on plant leaves as raised blister-like areas that cause leaves to curl, exposing the lower leaf surface. Infected leaves become covered with a white to gray powdery growth, usually on the upper surface. When most of the plant leaves are affected by this condition, photosynthesis is greatly affected and leaves will eventually begin to fall prematurely.
If your Begonia plant is affected with this condition, you will need to prune out the affected leaves in order to improve air circulation then you will be required to apply sulfur or copper-based fungicides. Within one week, your begonia plant will regain its spectacular elegancy.
Botrytis also referred to as Grey Mould or Bud Rot, is a fungus that attacks tender parts of the plant in the presence of high humidity. The fungus is often found growing on indoor plants. Botrytis at first appears as a white growth on the plant but with time it darkens to a gray color.
Botrytis can cause premature leaf fall, root rot and can cause the death of a plant, if early care is not taken. To deal with botrytis, remove and destroy all infected plants to allow for good air circulation, however, depending upon the susceptibility of the plant to this disease, spray every 10 days with a fungicide.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Leaf spots are round blemishes found on the leaves of many species of plants, mostly caused by parasitic fungi or bacteria. Spotted leaves occur when fungal spores in the air find a warm, wet, plant surface to cling to. Leaf spot is characterized by leaf spots, wilts, scabs, cankers and rots of roots. Usually, leaf spot diseases weaken plants by interrupting photosynthesis.
Stem And Root Rot
Stem and root rot commonly arises due to two issues. Either your plant got waterlogged due to overwatering or improper drainage or a fungus in the soil attacked and infected the roots.
If you notice that your begonia maculata is slowly wilting and the leaves are turning yellow or dull for no know reason, there is a likelihood that your plant may be affected by root and stem rot. Wilting and dulling of color may happen quickly or over the course of a few weeks.
Check the roots of your plant by removing it from the soil and feeling the roots with your hands. If the roots feel mushy and look dark instead of creamy white or tan, then probably your plant has root rot issues.
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Mealybugs are soft, oval, wax-covered insects that feed on many plants in garden, landscape and indoor settings. Mealybugs are most active in warm, dry weather; they damage plants by inserting their threadlike mouthparts into any part of the plant and sucking out the sap.
Plants infested with Mealybugs usually have leaves that turn yellow and wilt and if the infestation is not eliminated, the plant may eventually die.
- Begonias: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begonia
- Growing And Caring For Begonia: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/begonia/annual-begonia-care.htm
- Everything About Begonia: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/begonia/
- Growing Begonia: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/begonia-plants-262335
- Begonias: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/begonia-grandis/
- Problems commonly associated with Begonias: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/be-familiar-with-common-problems-on-rieger-begonias