Begonias are among the most popular houseplants, and it’s easy to see why. They require very little in the way of maintenance, making them suitable for seasoned and novice gardeners alike.
Plus, they have stunning flowers and foliage, so they’re sure to add a wow factor to your home.
Acetosa is one of my favorite begonias. Native to Brazil, it’s popularly known as Ruby Begonia. What I like most about this plant are its velvety, cupped leaves that have a red hue underneath. This foliage really makes my living room look glam.
Are you looking to purchase this plant but aren’t sure of how to take care of it? We’ve got you covered. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to care for Begonia acetosa.
Begonia Acetosa Care Guide
The most important aspect to consider when choosing a potting medium is drainage. Begonia acetosa needs to be planted in well-draining soil. However, it should also be capable of retaining moisture long enough to be used by the plant.
Consider purchasing or creating your own potting mix. Garden soil is not recommended for potted plants like this one because it’s too dense. As a result, it doesn’t allow water, nutrients, or air to pass through easily.
I prefer to use a mix of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. This combo absorbs moisture nicely, drains well, and is able to resist compaction.
Like other rhizomatous begonias, the acetosa thrives when it’s grown under bright, indirect light. If you’re growing it outdoors, look for a spot that provides partial to full shade, such as under a tree. A shaded greenhouse or a windowsill shielded from direct rays will also suffice.
I always place my acetosa on a windowsill, behind a sheer curtain. The drape filters the light reaching the plant so that it’s not too intense.
And if there’s not enough light, I like to supplement the natural light with fluorescent lighting. I place the lighting fixture about 6 to 12 inches above the plant and then leave it on for at least 12 hours.
If you want to know whether your Begonia is receiving enough light, check the condition of its stems and the plant in general. Acetosas that aren’t receiving enough light tends to have elongated stems and lanky structures.
If you’re the kind of homeowner who always forgets to water your houseplants, you will appreciate the tolerance of the acetosa. Since it stores water in its rhizomes, it can withstand neglect better than other begonia species.
Nonetheless, it’s important to water this plant whenever the top 1-inch of the soil feels dry. But, don’t go overboard. Overwatering this plant can result in root rot, not to mention, create a habitable environment for fungi.
I usually water my Begonia acetosa once a week. This is how long it takes for the top section of the soil to dry up.
Apart from frequency, you should also pay attention to the size of the container when watering. A container that is too big tends to hold more water than a small-sized one. If this is the only pot you can use, then add just enough water to avoid leaving the plant sitting in soggy soil.
Begonia acetosa is not picky when it comes to temperature. It can survive at standard room temperature. More specifically, the recommended temperature is 55°F (13°C) to 72°F (22°C).
This plant prefers a moderately humid environment. Consider maintaining the level at 70 to 90%. However, the acetosa can tolerate low humidity levels as well.
If you’re looking to raise humidity at your home, avoid misting the plant directly. Doing so increases the risk of powdery mildew, so consider alternative solutions.
For instance, you could install a humidifier in the space where your plant is located. Or, you could group it with other houseplants.
Still, you should monitor your acetosa closely, and take the necessary action if you notice any powdery patches (a sign of powdery mildew) on the leaves.
While not mandatory, applying fertilizer on your Begonia acetosa is a brilliant idea. Not only does it supply the plant with essential nutrients, but also helps to prevent certain diseases.
So what’s the best type of fertilizer? I find that well-balanced fertilizers work best for this plant species. It means it should contain all three essential nutrients, namely nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
As for the schedule, apply at planting time, and once every two to four weeks after that. Fertilize particularly during the growing season as the plant will be able to make the most of the available nutrients then.
Given how beautiful the acetosa looks, it’s not surprising that many homeowners would want to propagate the plant. And the good thing is, it’s quite easy to propagate. You have two options, that is, you can propagate from stem cuttings or a single leaf.
For this option, you’ll need to cut a 4-inch stem from your current begonia. Next, place your cutting in a glass filled with about an inch of water. Place the glass near a windowsill and wait for it to root.
After a month, you should start seeing tiny roots sprout, and after two months, your new plant will be ready to be transferred into a pot.
Although some gardeners prefer this technique, a more surefire way for me is to place the stem cutting directly in a growing medium.
Given how susceptible this species is to rot, I don’t like taking the risk of planting it in water. By planting in a potting mix, I have complete control of how much moisture the plant gets; hence, minimize the risk of rotting.
The Begonia acetosa can also be propagated from a leaf cutting. Follow these steps:
- Get a young and healthy leaf from your current plant. Use a sharp knife for precision and cut at the point where the leaf intersects with the stem
- Next, make slashes on the leaf’s underside; along the main vein. Plant the entire leaf, firmly on moist compost or potting mix
- Constantly check the leaf for progress. You’ll notice that several young plants will start forming on the leaf.
If you live in a tiny apartment, one of the things you might be interested in knowing is how big this plant grows.
Begonia acetosa grows to about 10 inches (25 cm) in height, and spreads to between 12 and 18 inches (30 cm to 46 cm). Thus, it doesn’t grow so big that it can’t fit in tight spaces.
Like most Begonia species, the acetosa likes being root-bound. Thus, the only time you should repot it is when the present container becomes filled with roots.
To check this, gently remove the plant from the pot. If the plant still has loose soil, give it time to grow a little more. However, if you remove the plant and find that all its roots hold soil, this is probably a good time to repot.
When repotting, choose a container that is slightly bigger. By slightly, I mean about an inch bigger. It’s better to increase the size of the pot gradually, as opposed to transferring to an overly big container that will retain too much moisture.
Another point to take note of is the condition of the root system when repotting. You should transplant your begonia only if it has a solid root structure.
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It’s tough being a begonia when you live in a place where the humidity can dip below 20% (So. Dry.) and even the humans are suffering a little. That said, Begonia acetosa is this winter’s MVP. One of its recent leaves fell victim to the dryness and tore as it was hardening off, and it’s looking a bit etiolated as a result of being moved away from the prime window spot to avoid the radiators, but overall I think the plant looks pretty good given the circumstances. I don’t have time or energy to mess around with grow lights and humidifiers right now, so I’m really appreciating the plants that can get by during rough times. . . . . . . . #goodandplantiful #plantparenthood #houseplants #plantsmakepeoplehappy #houseplantclub #flauntyourleaves #terracottatakesover #plantenabler #nycplantclub #begoniamonday #begoniabrigade #begoniaacetosa
Common Problems with Begonia acetosa
Stem and root rot
A common problem among acetosas is the stem and root rot. Popularly known as pythium rot, it’s caused by a fungal-like organism called Pythium ultimum.
Pythium rot causes the leaves to wilt, whereby they start dropping prematurely. This leaves the Begonia vulnerable to sunburns. With this condition, the best form of defense is prevention. So, here’s how you can prevent your plant from rotting in the first place:
- Plant your Begonia in disease-free soil. When it’s too hot, consider covering the soil with plastic. Doing so increases the temperature of the soil; hence creating a hostile environment where no pathogens can survive.
- Before planting the Acetosa, enhance the soil’s drainage by adding organic mulch. If the soil still feels too compact, you can use an aerator to loosen the soil; thus, improve drainage.
- If you’re growing your Begonia outdoors, always water in the morning. This allows it ample time to dry before the sun sets.
- Water from the base as opposed to watering from overhead. This allows the excess water to drain efficiently
If your plant has already started displaying signs of rot, you should treat it immediately to prevent total damage. Remove the infected parts and discard them. Next, apply a suitable fungicide, but take note of the weather conditions.
The best time to apply a fungicide is when it’s not rainy, windy, or too hot. Moreover, dilute the fungicide with water before application.
Another common problem among begonia acetosa is powdery mildew. It’s characterized by powdery white spots, which form on the surface of the leaf, stem, and flowers.
Important to note is that this disease can easily be spread by wind. The fungal pathogens that cause this condition don’t even need water to germinate.
Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent your plant from getting powdery mildew. These are:
- Leaving ample space between plants; regardless of whether you’re growing them indoors or outdoors. Doing so ensures proper air circulation.
- Avoiding fast-releasing nitrogen fertilizers. Such fertilizers lead to hastened growth, which makes your plant susceptible to powdery mildew
- Looking for Begonia acetosa varieties, which are bred to be resistant against powdery mildew
- Planting your acetosa in a slightly sunny spot. Powdery mildew thrives in a cold setting so ensure you’re exposing your plant to a decent amount of light
Tips to Keep Begonia Acetosa Problem-Free
Distilled water is key
When watering, pay attention to the type of water you use.
In the wild, this plant is used to seasonal rainfall, so you should try and replicate the same. In that regard, distilled or tap water is better than non-distilled. The latter contains mineral salts, which can cause leaf burn if they accumulate on the surface of the leaves.
If you choose to fertilize, then pay attention to the technique you use. Essentially, apply around the plant’s base. Spraying the fertilizer solution directly on the plant can cause fertilizer burn because its stems and leaves are quite fragile.
It’s also good practice to water the plant before and after applying fertilizer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Begonia Acetosa
Can Begonia acetosa grow in full sun?
No, it cannot. While it can tolerate to a certain extent, it won’t thrive. Such intense light can stress its leaves, causing scorching and potential loss of color. If you suspect that your acetosa is getting exposed to direct sun, move it to a partially shaded spot.
Does Begonia acetosa require a lot of water?
Since it stores water in the rhizomes, it can go for an extended period without water. However, it’s good to keep the soil moist- but not soggy- so that it can transport nutrients to the root system.
Is Begonia acetosa a perennial or annual plant?
It’s an annual plant, which means you’ll have to replant or repot it every year. The most suitable time to do this is in mid-spring. Acetosas can’t tolerate cold and frost, so if you’re going to replant, do this at least one week after winter.
Begonia Acetosa, which is also known as Ruby begonia is a rhizomatous, and succulent plant, native to Brazil. It’s a low-maintenance plant, making it ideal for newbie gardeners.
All it needs is a spot with bright indirect light, potting medium that is consistently moist, temperature ranging from 55°F (13°C) to 72°F (22°C), and a fairly humid setting.
While it may not be the easiest begonia to find, it’s certainly worth looking for. Its exceptional yet simple leaf colors and patterns are a beauty to behold.
This consists of olive green foliage with a bit of red on the underside. You can put your acetosa on a windowsill, or make it the focal point of your space by placing it in a hanging basket.
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