Nothing adds beauty to your garden or apartment the way pinkish-red Begonias do. People adore their flowers and leaves.
Beginners can also decorate their homes with these houseplants as they don’t ask a lot. As adaptive as they are, your Begonias can be a little picky when it comes to the right lighting conditions.
Though some of the begonia species have a tolerance for more light, others are happier in semi-shaded areas.
Are Begonias OK in the shade?
Begonias plants are ok in the shade. They grow best in semi-shaded areas around 2,500-10,000 LUX, however, where they have 2-4 hours of direct sunlight and bright indirect light for the rest of the day. East-facing windows are a perfect choice for Begonias as they provide bright indirect light at 10,000-20,000 LUX throughout the day. Begonias also tolerate almost full shade around 200-500 LUX, but will grow slower and bloom less compared to semi-shaded areas.
Like most houseplants, Begonias thrive best in filtered sunlight. It helps them photosynthesize and stay healthy. However, too much heat and light can discourage their growth. 2-4 hours of direct sunlight in the morning is fine. Anything more than that will harm and scorch Begonias. Begonias grow best in filtered indirect light.
Why is Sunlight Important for Your Begonias?
Begonia leaves are a treat for the eyes. Their structures have green pigments called chlorophyll. When you expose the plant light, chlorophyll absorbs the rays. Chloroplasts then transform the light into usable fuel.
It provides your Begonia the energy it needs to photosynthesize, transpire, and grow. I’ve seen that some of my Begonias (like Wax Begonias) grow quicker when I provide them filtered sunlight.
So, placing your Begonia pot in a very dark and cold corner is not the best idea, although the will survive as long as there is some light present through the day.
Which Begonia Species Thrive in Shade?
These beautiful plants consist of over 1200 species. Some are more popular than others. They have also evolved for a long time. It is why they adapted well to different environments.
If you are considering indoor Begonias, you should look for the varieties that aren’t light-sensitive. Here are some excellent Begonias you can grow in low light.
Begonia Maculata plants are among the unique ones. I especially love their giant polka dot leaves. Besides adding aesthetic value to your home, they are also easy to grow.
The silvery leaves of Begonia Maculata are sensitive to heat and light. They are quite happy when I place them indoors. They also tend to grow fast when at a safe distance from the sun.
So, if you want to brighten a shaded area in your home, Polka Dot Begonias would be perfect.
If I had to recommend my favorite Begonia, it would be this one. Begonia Pavonina’s glowy cobalt-blue leaves are simply irresistible. It is also why many plant lovers call it Peacock Begonia.
Interestingly, they thrive in the shade. The veins of their leaves are often sparkly. Botanists have formed different theories on why this happens. Many believe that Begonia Pavonina can absorb more energy if you place it in dim light (as occurs in the shade).
This species initially grew in dark rainforests and learned to cope.
Heather Whitney and her fellows from the University of Bristol spent much time researching their evolution. They found peculiar chloroplasts and thylakoids in Begonia Pavonina’s leaves.
These structures wonderfully reflect blue light and absorb green and red. The best part is that they do this while staying in the shade.
So if you want to observe some casual blue magic indoors, get yourself some Begonia Pavoninas.
Another species that will thank you for placing it in a shaded area is Tuberous Begonia. From soft pink and pastel yellow to crimson red and lilac, it grows stunning flowers.
My Tuberous Begonias stay healthy and happy in shaded sites. Sometimes, I place them in dappled or filtered sunlight during the evening. They look very fresh afterward.
Getting these will light up the shaded areas of your home.
How Much Light Do Begonias Generally Need?
Though it depends on the variety of Begonia you want to grow, none of them ask for too much. Begonias are popular as low-light houseplants. You can keep almost any Begonia species healthy by placing it in a spot with indirect sunlight.
It means that you shouldn’t place your pot outdoors in the garden or roofless patio. The sun rays should pass through another medium before they reach your Begonia. It could be a canopy of older trees, curtains, or any other object that gives shade.
You may live in naturally sunny regions. If so, placing your pot too close to the sun is also not a good option. It stays valid even if you shade it with a cloth. It is because when the sun is hot, its rays can easily penetrate through mediums.
What Happens if your Begonia Gets Too Much Light?
Too much light can damage your Begonia’s foliage. It includes curling and wilting of leaves. When you have a variety like Polka Dot or Peacock Begonia, you especially want to avoid this.
Sun can scorch their leaves. The edges will begin to darken and curl inwards. If it continues, your plants may not bloom. If they produce flowers, they’ll be weaker and dull-looking.
It can be stressful for the roots since they don’t have many photoreceptors. A few days back, I came across the recent research about roots’ tolerance to sunlight.
It said that too much sunlight could potentially cause root rot and a disease called halotropism. It means that your Begonia can stop absorbing valuable nutrients from its soil.
In short, exposing your Begonia to direct sunlight can be very problematic and stressful.
Which Shaded Areas Can You Use for Begonias?
Your Begonias can lighten up the atmosphere and uplift your mood. So, it’s natural that you want to put them somewhere nice.
If you enjoy hosting guests, Begonias can help you welcome them. They will look pretty in the lounge, especially if your walls have pastel shades. The vibrant colored Begonias create an impressive contrast.
You can place the potted Begonias on a stand, on an entry table, or next to your couch. Your Begonias may be small enough to move, like mine. If so, you have even better options as you can use hanging baskets, lattices, and trellis.
Stating from personal experience, these flowers look delightful when peeking through wooden baskets. Additionally, Begonias will also brighten your mornings if you put them next to the work desk. Many people who have photography or art studios at home love Begonias for the same reason.
If you wish to provide filtered and low sunlight, use a North-facing window. But if your Begonia wants bright, indirect sunlight like Wax Begonias do, an East-facing window would be better.
How to Use Artificial Lights for Begonias?
Alternately, you can also resort to artificial light for your plants. Grow lights don’t have to be intensive and will keep your plant healthy.
You can choose fluorescent light bulbs and place them overhead. Make sure they are at least 8-10 inches above your plant leaves.
I’d suggest keeping them on for around 12 hours daily. I turn mine on when the afternoon light starts to fade away and turn them off before going to bed.
I’ve seen that artificial lights encourage Begonias to bloom with more flowers. It is important to note that your indoor plant can also grow thirsty quicker. So, check its soil for dryness and water regularly.
When you are using artificial lights, you can also decorate your bookshelves and closet with Begonias.
Frequently Asked Questions about Begonias and Shade
Can I leave my Begonia in the dark?
Though Begonias can do well in shaded areas, a total absence of light will stunt their growth of a Begonia and kill the plant eventually.
Why does my Begonia wilt when I place it outdoors?
It likely means that you have a shade-loving variety of Begonia. Placing it outdoors can give it heat stress from the increased sunlight. Transfer it to a shaded area where sunrays are not meeting the plant’s leaf directly to prevent wilting.