by Erin Marissa Russell
Ready to learn about how to best care for begonia maculata? This plant, with its dark green wing-shaped leaves and white spots, is sometimes known as “begonia maculata wightii,” “angel wing begonia,” or “polka dot begonia.” In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to keep begonia maculata flourishing.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Fertilizer
Fertilize your begonia maculata plant in the spring, once it comes out of dormancy and begins to grow again. Use an all-purpose water soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks throughout the time the plant is actively growing.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Humidity & Temperature
Begonia maculata is a tropical plant that thrives between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, it’s usually kept indoors, though it can do well outdoors in the summertime. At the lower end of its temperature range, begonia maculata often goes dormant indoors, and like most houseplants in their dormancy, it won’t do a lot of growing during this time.
To replicate the tropical environment, you’ll need to keep begonia maculata in a place where the humidity is high. Most of the time, the humidity inside a home is not enough for this plant.
Bathrooms and kitchens tend to have the highest humidity, so think about keeping your begonia maculata in one of these rooms. Other options include keeping your begonia maculata near other plants, using a humidifier, or positioning your plant near a tray filled with pebbles and water.
Begonia maculata can get its humidity from being misted, but the plant prefers indirect humidity. Ideally, begonia maculata likes to get at least 45 percent humidity.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Light
Keep your begonia maculata in a place that gets bright, indirect light. Much of the time, the best spot is a window that gets bright light and faces east, west, or south. The plant will tolerate the medium light it will get from a northeast or northwest facing window. If it doesn’t get enough sun, begonia maculata’s gorgeous colors will start to look washed out, and there’s a greater chance of mold in the soil where your plant is growing. If your begonia maculata gets too much sunlight, its leaves can be marred by sunscald [https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-recognize-and-prevent-sunscald-in-the-garden/].
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Pruning
Prune your plants when they need to be shaped up or when they’re getting leggy as they grow. Pruning will help the plant to become denser and bushier. New growth will come from the places you prune. The best time to prune a plant that has grown too tall is late autumn, at the end of the plant’s growing season.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Soil
Begonia maculata is perfectly happy in potting soil made for houseplants. But if you’d like, you can mix in some coconut coir, fine moss, or perlite to loosen the soil and give it better drainage. For the best possible results, use a mixture of clay, loamy soil, and sand, which will increase drainage while retaining moisture in the soil.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Repotting
Your begonia maculata plant will do best if it’s repotted into a slightly larger container each year. Plants that are especially in need of repotting might have their roots sticking out of the drainage holes, but ideally you will repot your plant long before it shows this sign.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Water
Begonia maculata is prone to root rot, so take care especially not to overwater this plant. Luckily, there are lots of signs you can watch out for to make sure your plant isn’t getting overwatered or underwatered.
Signs that your begonia maculata is getting too much water include brown spots on the leaves, mold in the soil, wilting stems, and yellow leaves
Signs that your begonia maculata isn’t getting enough water are scorched-looking brown and yellow spots on the foliage that give way to wilting. The leaves may also dry out or become so fragile that they easily come off.
There’s an easy test you can do to make sure the soil is dry before you water your plant. Just insert a finger into the soil where your begonia maculata is growing. If the soil feels moist or sticks to the skin of your finger, it’s not yet time to water your plant again. Make sure the soil has dried out, not sticking to your skin when you test it, before you water begonia maculata.
Make sure that when you water your begonia maculata, you aim the water at the base of the plant. Begonia maculata can only use the water that its roots can reach, so water that splashes onto the foliage or around the soil far from the base won’t hydrate the plant. Excess moisture on the foliage can also lead to root rot or fungal diseases.
Caring for Begonia Maculata: Propagation
It’s easy to propagate new plants from begonia maculata. The simplest way to do it is to use stem cuttings (also called rhizomes), which are best taken during the winter while the plant is dormant.
Use sharp, sterilized gardening shears and cut off one of the stems just below the bud. Strip any leaves off of your rhizome, and carefully place it in a pot filled with soil that drains well. The soil in the pot should be kept damp but not too wet, the way you keep it for your established begonia maculata plants.
In five to seven weeks, roots begin to form. You can determine when roots have formed by gently tugging on the stem. You will be able to feel resistance once the roots have started to grow.
Another way to propagate your plant is with a stem cutting. Choose a stem with one or two nodes, and clip it from the plant with clean, sterilized gardening shears. You can keep the pieces you prune off your begonia maculata and make stem cuttings from them. Place the stem cuttings in a small jar with water and wait for roots to form. Insert a stem cutting into the soil in a new plant pot once roots have formed, and care for it as you would a mature plant.
Now you know exactly how to give your begonia maculata the best care. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or someone with a “black thumb,” simply follow the directions provided in this article, and you’ll soon have a thriving plant in your collection.