Begonia Cucullata is one of the most commonly cultivated plants for gardens and flower beds. They are a classic and have been colorfully decorating gardens for ages.
They are native to South America (Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil) and can grow up to 18 inches in height and 24 inches in width.
What is special about Begonia Cucullata is the glossy, succulent leaves that are shaped like a scallop, which is why it is also commonly known as the clubbed Begonia.
In these mounds of green leaves, you will find the usual Begonia white to pink colored flowers that will keep on coming in throughout the whole season.
If you are thinking of adding it to your garden collection keep on reading.
In this article I am going to outline all of the care tips and tricks you will need to take care of your Begonia Cucullata and keep your beautiful garden thriving!
- 1 Begonia Cucullata Care Guide
- 2 Fertilizer
- 3 Common problems with Begonia Cucullata
- 4 How to keep your Begonia Cucullata problem-free
- 5 Frequently asked questions about Begonia Cucullata
- 6 Conclusion
Begonia Cucullata Care Guide
When planted outside the Begonia Cucullata will like a well-draining humus-rich soil that is slightly acidic (5.5 to 6.5 pH).
If you have very basic soil in your garden a good idea would be to add some peat, this will not only make the soil more acidic but also help with humidity retention of the soil so that you don’t have to water as often.
If you are not sure of the pH properties of your garden soil a good idea would be to test it. Simple pH soil kits are sold in garden centers, and you can take samples from different parts of your garden and see how acidic or basic it is.
Just like most Begonias keep in mind that the Begonia Cucullata will not tolerate wet feet- water stagnation at the roots, so think of this when choosing a spot in your garden.
If you are thinking of growing it in a pot indoors, also make sure it has a very well-draining soil, even more so than outside, and keep it on the acidic side.
When grown outside the Begonia Cucullata will do well in any light. It will thrive in shade as well as in direct light, but the important thing is to acclimate them if you are drastically changing their environment.
If you bought a begonia in a store and it has been sitting in the total shade, for example, do not plant it in direct sunlight right away.
Slowly increase the light so that it has time to get used to it, and it will do just fine.
Indoors you can place your Begonia Cucullata in a south or east-facing window, but same as for outdoors it will do well in any lighting, as long as you don’t shock it.
Watering Begonias is tricky for beginners as they like being constantly watered but dislike too much water stagnating around their roots.
If you stick your finger in the soil next to the plant grown outdoors, and it is dry to your firs knuckle it is time to water them. If you notice yellowing and wilting this could be a sign of overwatering.
When grown indoors about once a week will be enough, but you can also do the finger test, and don’t let more than the top couple of inches of soil dry out.
I water my indoors Begonias over a sink to let the water flow through the drainage holes making absolutely sure no water is left standing in the container.
It is also very important to water your Begonia Cucullata at the base of the plant and avoid getting the succulent leaves wet. This will lead to leaf spot and other fungal problems that I will mention later.
The ideal temperature for a Begonia Cucullata is between 30 and 50 F. They will suffer at higher temperatures and go dormant in lower temperatures.
This is probably a good time to mention that if you do live in an area that has cold falls and winters you can overwinter your Begonia Cucullata indoors. This is an easy procedure and will save you some money if you don’t want to keep buying new plants every season.
Dig up your begonias before it gets too cold, check them for various pests and diseases and if they are all well and healthy you can cut away all of the dead stalks leaves, and flowers and put them in a pot. Keep this pot on a humidity tray in a warm and brightly lit place.
If the change between the outside and the inside of your home is too big, your Begonia Cucullata might drop its leaves because of shock. Don’t worry, this happens, it should grow back normal.
You can also gradually move your Begonia into lower light as time goes on, but keep in mind you will have to adapt it to bright light in the spring again. Once the temperatures are high enough you can pinch off any early flowers and return your Begonia Cucullata to your garden.
Begonia Cucullata like high humidity and you should keep this in mind if you are growing them indoors. This is where we have the most trouble keeping high levels of humidity right?
When I say high humidity I mean they will do ok in 50 to 60% humidity and will be thankful for a humidity tray, which is something you should also keep in mind if you are overwintering your begonias indoors.
A humidity tray can be easily and cheaply constructed and will do quite a decent job at increasing humidity in the immediate vicinity of the plant.
Choose a tray that is just deep enough to contain a layer of pebbles and some water. The pebbles should not be totally submerged in the water, their main job is to keep the pot elevated so that it doesn’t touch the water.
This construction will enable higher humidity around the plant without adding water to the soil, which we know Begonias dislike.
If you want an ever flowering mound of Begonias that will make all of your neighbors jealous, you need a good fertilizing routine. I recommend a 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer diluted to one-third of its strength every 3 weeks.
Don’t forget to fertilize them just after planting them, for this purpose you can also use slow-release pellets. Always use fertilizers that are applied to the base of the plant, avoid getting leaves wet at all costs.
It is also a good idea to fertilize after watering, to avoid fertilizer burn at the roots of your Begonia Cucullata.
The Begonia Cucullata can be propagated just like all the other wax Begonia species. It is easy to do in case you do not want to buy new plants every season or if you want to share your plants with family and friends. I explain the process below.
- Always inspect the plant before cutting and choose a healthy and pest free cutting to give it the best possible chances of survival.
- Make sure there are no flowers on the cutting that you chose, and that there are at least a couple of nodes where the roots can come in.
- Cut the cutting about an inch under the last node and remove the lower leaves. Remove the leaves that would be in contact with the water once you submerge the nodes. Those can rot in contact with water and will cause you problems down the line.
- Place your cutting in a clean glass or container with distilled water.
- Keep the container with the cuttings in a warm and bright place and change the water as needed. This is either when the water becomes murky or has evaporated too much. You can do this once a week for good measure.
- When the roots are a couple of inches long your cutting is ready to be planted in soil. Prepare a pot with the soil mix described in the first section of the article, premoisten the medium, and clear a hole in the middle that will house the cutting.
- Place the cutting into the hole so that you cover all of the roots and gently apply pressure around the plant.
- Keep this plant in a warm place with lots of bright but indirect light and keep an eye on it for a couple of months. Keep the soil reasonably moist but not soggy.
Begonias grow in a bushy fashion, shooting up flowers evenly through the mound. To keep you Begonia Cucullata flowering all season long and to promote a nice shape it is recommended to deadhead regularly.
By pruning I mean regularly removing spent flowers and dry branches or leaves, this is especially important at the end of the growing season when they tend to become leggy and scraggly, which can be avoided with diligent care.
Always be mindful of disinfecting your pruning shears in between plants to avoid the spread of disease.
I personally recommend terracotta pots for all Begonias, Cucullata included. This is because they dislike wet feet and the ability of water control that a clay pot provides.
Clay attracts moisture and will suck up any extra water that may be hanging around your Begonia Cucullata’s roots. It is also important to make sure the pot you chose has drainage holes to let the water drain through if you over water your plant.
Begonias will need re-potting every year or so. You can always check the bottom of your pot and see if any roots are peeking through the drainage holes. When you can see the roots getting crowded you can re-pot your Begonia.
The best time to do this is in spring, just as the growing season is starting. Give your Begonia a fresh batch of soil and up-size the pot by a couple of inches when you do this.
This is also a good time to remove any early flowers to encourage even more blooming.
Common problems with Begonia Cucullata
Begonia Cucullatas experience the same issues with pests and diseases as other Begonias.
It’s semi-succulent leaves and water requirements make it prone to fungal issues and the usual pest suspects that like succulent leaves to munch on.
Let’s talk more about each of those.
Powdery mildew can be a real issue with water-loving plants like Begonia Cucullata. The best thing you can do is plant and cultivate defensively and prevent issues before they even happen.
Powdery mildew in particular tends to develop when the plants are over-watered and over-crowded.
When first setting up your garden make sure you are choosing a well-draining and elevated area, and try to have the foresight of how much the plants are going to grow in width.
Even if they look like they are too far apart at the moment, trust the process and know they are going to grow soon.
If you have already spotted the round white fluffy spots that are a signature of powdery mildew, I recommend that you remove the ones that are affected beyond help and wipe the rest of the leaves with a homemade mixture of 1 tablespoon of baking soda, ½ teaspoon of liquid soap, and a gallon of water.
Slugs have a sweet tooth for succulent Begonias like the Begonia Cucullata and they can do some real damage to your plants if you have them planted outdoors.
The best course of action that does not hurt the slugs is setting up a polenta trap. Put a shallow container full of moistened polenta in a sheltered place in your garden and wait for them to gather in it.
When they are all munching on your trap you can then remove them from your garden and carry them someplace else, I take mine to the woods next to my house.
You can opt for different pellets and pesticides but I personally do not recommend them as they mostly cause the painful death of the slugs.
Mealybugs are small round white insects that look like mini cotton buds and feed on the sap of your plants. Begonia Cucullatas are very inviting to them, especially when pushing out new growth and buds as they prefer the softest parts of the plant.
Fortunately, these are quite easy to get rid of and should not be a cause for panic. If you have a mild to moderate infestation physically removing them with a q-tip dipped in alcohol when you spot them or showering them off with a hose can be enough.
If you find yourself with a huge number of mealybugs that you cannot manage then I recommend doing an insecticidal soap treatment. I enclose the bottom part of my plant in a plastic bag so I don’t get the soil wet and then thoroughly wash the plant with the soap to remove all of the bugs.
You can also do regular neem oil treatments that will deter future guests from feeding.
How to keep your Begonia Cucullata problem-free
- Water your Begonia Cucullata at the base of the plant
- Do not mist your Begonia Cucullata, avoid getting the leaves wet at all costs
- Water regularly but do not overwater
- Pinch off spent flowers to encourage more flowering
- Overwinter them if you live in a temperate climate
Frequently asked questions about Begonia Cucullata
When the bottom leaves of your Begonia Cucullata are wilting this usually indicated over-watering and the beginning of a rotting issue at the roots. Reevaluate your watering schedule and maybe try to go a couple of days more without watering.
I tried to overwinter my Begonia but all of its leaves dropped as soon as I took it indoors, is it dead?
No, your plant isn’t dead. Begonias are known for dropping their leaves when they experience shock. Since this happened as you were moving the plant indoors I reckon the issue is a drastic change in temperature or light. Make sure your Begonias are in a warm and well-lit place in your home as you take them indoors.
I’m confused, how do I know when to water my Begonia Cucullata?
This is a common issue. Try getting a humidity meter to stick into the soil and see how moist it is. You can also try sticking your finger into the soil of your plant, When it is dry to the first knuckle it is probably a good time to water.
This perennial will beautifully decorate any garden and will make any classic garden plant lover very happy.
It is generally easy to take care of since if you appropriately place it in a flower bed or pot and give it the right conditions, all you have to do is water regularly and remove spent flowers and you will be rewarded with nonstop flowering all season long.
You can even overwinter your Begonia Cucullata, which means you won’t have to buy new ones every season, how awesome is that?
If you have any additional tips or trick that we missed, please let us know in our Facebook group and share some pictures of your garden with us, we love seeing your plants thrive!