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Begonia Luxurians (Palm Leaf Begonia) #1 Care Hacks

Begonia Luxurians (Palm Leaf Begonia) #1 Care Hacks

Begonia luxurians is literally the trippiest Begonia variety in my garden. Everything about this plant is gorgeously exaggerated compared to other members of its family, Begoniaceae. The green leaves are heavily digitate – elongated lance-like leaflets fan out from the centre and droop downward – much like palm.

The underside of the leaves are a reddish bronze and the cane-stems are a shade of purplish crimson. The creamy white fragrant flowers bloom in large clusters. Because of its long cane-stems and palm frond leaves, it’s called commonly known as Palm-Leaf Begonia.

I grow Begonia luxurians for the stunner that it is, adding exotic value it adds to my garden scheme. From the way this plant stands tall and proud, I believe it is quite aware of its own unique beauty.

I love asking visitors to guess what plant it is, because no one ever gets it right! All in all, it has grown to become my favourite Christmas decoration too with its green, red and white color combo.

Being indigenous to the rainforests of Brazil, Begonia luxurians care is heavily centred around temperature and moisture management, two things that home gardeners often struggle with.

So without meaning to discourage you, let me just flag upfront that Begonia luxurians care isn’t for first timers or for the faint-hearted.

That said, I am going arm you with tips and tricks that will help you grow Begonia luxurians and keep it alive and healthy for long years.
 


 

Begonia luxurians Plant Care Instructions

 

Soil

Begonia luxurians care is largely determined by its rainforest origins. The soil medium is ideally rich, loamy and well draining. We also need to ensures that the soil has a lot of organic matter that keeps the roots aeriated.

A nice soil mix that I’ve been using to grow Begonia luxurians is half part soil, and the other half, a mix of sphagnum peat moss, leaf mulch or humus thrown together along with sand.

Pine bark, wood shavings or any other organic substance that can add to soil looseness and is easily available to you, makes it into the mix.

Note that in order to grow Begonia luxurians the soil should ideally be mildly acidic to neutral, with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. All your mulch, moss, bark and other organic components will help improve acidity of the soil but be mindful that acidity levels change over time.

Also, make sure that the potting medium is sterile to avoid any fungus induced root rot problems.

Do coffee grounds in the soil help in Begonia luxurians care?

There’s a popular idea making the rounds these days that coffee grounds help improve soil acidity and suppress soil diseases. Well, this is a largely debatable idea yet to be tested scientifically.

Prof. Linda Chalker-Scott of WSU, based on her research advises that a small amount of coffee grounds on the top of the soil may indeed have some benefits which you can read about here.

In any case I’ve been throwing coffee grounds from my kitchen into my compost mix and they have indeed proven to be beneficial for airing the soil and improving moisture retention, both useful properties for Begonia luxurians care. So you have my vote on coffee grounds, one way or the other.

 

Light

Begonia luxurians care requires good filtered sunlight throughout the growing season i.e. spring-autumn. This is how you encourage lush growth and good flowering. I certainly keep my plant away from direct sunlight and behind glass.

An east or a west-facing window spot with a lot of natural light is an ideal location. The plant can take some sun in winter. If you live in cold weather zones, winter months can get tricky.

Give them florescent lights or a southern window indoors.

 

Watering 

I’ve maintained that watering is the tricky part of Begonia luxurians care. The plants with their large umbrella leaves have a tropical look. But far from the look their watering requirements are quite low.

My rule-of-thumb in such cases is to observe the original habitat. In the Brazilian rainforests these plants subsists on rainwater. During rainy the soil stays moist but never water logged.

Rainwater is mildly acidic in nature which also beneficial for these plants. Try to store rainwater if you want to grow Begonia luxurians.

As long as the potting mix and the planter you’ve used drain excellently well, you can water regularly during summer but never overwater.

The best solution for homegrown Begonia luxurians care is to simply water the plant when the top of the potting mix visibly dries out. Remember that intermittent dryness is good to induce flowering.

he peat, mulch, compost, etc. used in the soil have very good water retention properties and help in moisture management.

The watering rule for winter months is to cut back even further just enough to maintain moisture. Use lukewarm water during winters. The plant doesn’t grow in winter but it’ll survive.

Pro tip: These plants are susceptible to fungal problems. Grow Begonia luxurians away from sprinklers and sprays. Water only at the roots. If required you can wipe the leaves with a wet sponge to remove dust once a month.

This Begonia luxurians care routine will ensure your plant stays disease free.

 

Temperature

Normal room temperatures are the best to grow Begonia luxurians. Somewhere between 15°C to 30°C (60°F – 85°F) is ideal. They can take a slight chill for a short period, but in any case don’t let them fall under 10°C (50°F).

They die completely when exposed to frost. These are herbaceous plants not meant for heavy winters and the fleshy stems are susceptible beyond a slight chill.

Indoors is your best bet for round the year Begonia luxurians care as long as watering and humidity are under control.

 

Humidity

An important element of Begonia luxurians care is regulating humidity, as these plants belong to climes with moderate to high humidity. Exposed to rains in their natural habitat, they thrive in levels of around 50%.

If want to grow Begonia luxurians in a cold country winter months are going to be a challenge since indoors can get rather dry. Feel free to use measures like a humidifier but avoid misting because the plant is susceptible to mildew.

It is often recommended to stand pots on trays of pebbles in water etc. to improve humidity. I am personally not a fan of this method due to the danger of soil getting soggy through the drain holes.

If you employ this method keep an eye on the soil wetness. Huddling plants together can also help manage humidity levels.

 

Fertilizer

Include fertilization in your Begonia luxurians care routine because this plant responds well to feeding particularly the mature ones.

Apply rich organic manure to the top soil every two month or so during the growing season. You can use any balanced organic feed to grow Begonia luxurians.

A lot of growers go for a good liquid chemical fertilizer. I’d recommend one that is suitable for foliage plants administered once to twice a month diluted to half its prescribed concentration.

This is just a precaution I recommend when it comes to the use of chemicals. And of course, cut back completely in winters.

 

Propagation

It is quite easy to propagate and grow Begonia luxurians from herbaceous stem cuttings or from the more woody stem cuttings closer to the base of the plant. I just make sure that the stem I use is strong and healthy.

Make sure the soil mix is sterile to improve the chances of the cutting taking root, and not rot.

Pro tip: you can root several cuttings in late autumn and overwinter them indoors or in your greenhouse. In spring you can plant in your yard and enjoy generous growth through summer months. This will help you cover for any winter losses too.

 

Growth

This plant is a strong grower with a shrubbing habit. I grow Begonia luxurians in a pot and is about 3 feet (90 cm) in height. This begonia is unlike any other in my collection.

While most of my begonias are low growing, this one with its crimson cane stems grows vertically upright. Given the right conditions one can grow Begonia luxurians to up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) tall almost like a small tree!

Its ultimate spread is about 3 to 5 feet (1 – 1.5 meters). It takes about 5 years to grow to its full height.

Pruning is an essential part of Begonia luxurians care as with all fibrous begonias or they grow leggy. You can prune it down a bit during the growing months to encourage some bushiness. Pinch of the tips to encourage branching.

Some enthusiasts have even successfully grown bonsais out of this plant and they look surreal.

 

Potting

The ideal pot to grow Begonia luxurians is a decent sized one. These are tall plants and can do with a stable base. My 3-foot tall Begonia luxurians grows in a 10-inch (25 cm) pot and I don’t plan to change the pot size for another couple of years.

For smaller plants you can use smaller pots and increase the pot size every spring depending on growth.

Once you have your soil ready (read the above section on Ideal soil to grow Begonia luxurians), place a layer of gravel or brick/terracotta fragments at the bottom of the pot allowing the plant to fall out smoothly when you wish to repot.

This also helps in better drainage at the bottom.

Having said this, I must add the most gorgeous growth I’ve witnessed is when they are planted straight into the ground.

So if you’re lucky enough to be living in warmer climates I would suggest you choose a raised spot (good for drainage) in your garden and plant it straight into the ground.

Just make sure the spot is well shaded. Then watch your Begonia luxurians grow into your neighbor’s envy.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Step by Step Begonia luxurians Propagation methods

You can propagate Begonia luxurians throughout the year. If you’re looking to overwinter young plants choose late summer to early autumn. Otherwise early spring is a good time.

 

Propagate Begonia luxurians through stem cuttings in soil

Propagating your Begonia through stem cuttings is the easiest and the most reliable method as far asBegonia luxurians propagation goes. Here’s how you do it:

– Use a strong, healthy cutting from a bug-free mother plant.
– Cut close to the base particularly if you see aerial roots.
– Cut right under a leaf node. Pluck off the leaves from the lower nodes
– Dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder but it normally sprouts even without.
– Plant the cutting in a sterile rooting soil mix in a 4 inch pot. Don’t press the soil down. Simply shake and tap the pot a few times until the soil settles firmly around the stem.
– Equal-parts of peat moss and perlite is a good mix to propagate Begonia luxurians cuttings.
– Keep the pot in bright shade and keep the soil just about moist but not wet. Use a big enough zip-lock bag to cover the plant and trap in humidity.
– Don’t disturb the cutting until established. Keep out of strong breeze
– Once the leaves pick you can know that the stem has taken root.
– Pro-tip 1: Make several cuttings in separate pots and group them together.
– Pro-tip 2: Propagate Begonia luxurians by putting the tray/pots on a heat blanket set at low heat setting, particularly if the weather is chilly.

 

Propagate Begonia luxurians via stem tip cuttings in water

Tip cutting in water is another popular method of Begonia luxurians propagation. Here’s how you would go about it:

– Take a thick healthy shoot with a strong terminal growth (non-flowering) with about 2 to 3 grown leaves.
– Pluck off the bottom leaves but leave the one at the tip along with the new leaves
– Put the cutting it in a jar of room temperature water.
– The very fleshy-stemmed types sometimes rot in water so choose a strong mature one.
– As the tip cutting sits in the water, it releases a rooting hormone
– Pro tip: use a small jar of water to propagate Begonia luxurians, otherwise the hormone gets diluted
– Once it sprouts a few roots of about 2 to 3 cm long shift them to soil in small pots

 

Propagate Begonia luxurians from seeds

• Begonia luxurians propagation from seed isn’t as straightforward as cutting but very much possible and many home growers succeed by following these steps:
– You can collect seeds from the plant after the seed heads dry
– Seeds are very tiny and should only be surface sown
– Mix them with some fine sand before sowing
– Prepare trays with a germination medium of equal parts of moist peat and perlite
– Sprinkle the seed + sand mix thinly and widely on the soil
– You can’t press the seeds down or put anything else on top of them. Mist them lightly to make them stick to the soil surface.
– Keep the tray in warm, moist conditions in a bright shaded spot – like by a window where there’s no disturbance
– Pro tip: Trays about 5 – 6 inches (12 – 15 cm) deep are perfect. Layer the soil up to half this height. This height allows you to wrap a cling foil over the tray punctured at a few places.
– You’ll see tiny seedlings in about a couple of weeks.
– Wait until they have about 3 – 4 leaves before shifting them to 4 inch (10 cm) pots with the same soil mix
– Maintain moisture and never over water.
– Once the plant is a about 10 inches (25 cm) tall shift them to a regular potting soil without disturbing the root ball.

 

Common problems seen in Palm-leaf Begonias

Begonia luxurians or Palm-leaf Begonia are fairly low maintenance as far as pests and diseases are concerned. There are however a few problems that you must be mindful of as part of your Begonia luxurians care guide:

 

Powdery white on the leaves

This is a clear sign of mildew, a fungus which causes white powdery patches on leaves, stems and buds. There are a couple things you can do.

Curative: Pinch off the affected leaves are dispose them far away in a dry spot where they can’t grow or spread. Restrict watering to roots of the plant and only in the mornings so that excess water on the leaves will quickly evaporate. Improve air circulation around the plants. Severe cases will need fungicide treatment but honestly, don’t let it go that far.

Preventive: Spray a solution made of 1 tablespoon baking soda to one quart water and two drops of dishwashing soap.

 

Crippling of leaves or stem terminals

This usually happens due to spider mites. Look for a webs at the midribs and nodes on the underside of leaves and at the terminals. Spider mites grow due to excessive dryness which makes the leaf surface very suitable for these insects.

Curative: Pinch of the affected terminals and wash the whole plant with a water jet. You can do a miticide spray treatment at a frequency prescribed on the cover. But these are usually not effective in the long run.

Preventive: You need to manage a tricky balance between wetness and dryness when you grow Begonia luxurians. You can wipe all the leaves with a wet cloth once or twice a month in the morning so that the moisture dries up during the day. Keep the surroundings weed free – you can use leaf much soil cover for this. Regular neem oil and insectidal soap treatment is also advisable.

 

Leaflet margins and tips drying

This could be the cause of direct sun exposure. You have to grow Begonia luxurians bright shade. If you’re growing them outdoors make sure they are kept in dappled sunlight or better still, bright shade.

 

Wilting, yellowing or shedding or leaves or stem

This could be caused due to root rot or stem rot. If your plant is mature with several stems you may be able to save your plant by salvaging the heathy roots and stems.

Completely cut out the rotted portion of the root and repot your plant. Simultaneously propagate Begonia luxurians using the tip/stem cutting method. Never overwater this plant as tropical as this looks and let the soil dry out partially between waterings.

 
Tips to keep Begonia luxurians or Palm-Leaf Begonia problem-free

The single most important aspect of Begonia luxurians care is ensuring the right amount of water because root rot is the most common reason for death. Here are a few handy tips to keep Begonia luxurians problem-free:

– Water only when the soil dries out 20-40%.
– Only dappled light or bright shade. No direct sun.
– These are strong growing perennials. So keep pruning the stems and also dead flowerheads.
– They are susceptible to wind damage. Protect them from wind but make sure that there’s air circulation to avoid infections.
– This plant needs a heavy pot because it is top heavy.
– Grow Begonia luxurians in terracotta pots as it allows for drying out the moisture from the bottom. Placing bits of terracotta fragments at the base of the planter helps too.
– Limit winter Begonia luxurians care to just minimum watering and absolutely no fertilizers. Wipe the leaves once a week and use organic insectidal soaps to avoid spider mites from dryness. Use lukewarm water during winters.
– They can’t withstand frost. So keep them indoors during winters.
– A best practice to follow with regards to Begonia luxurians care is to keep propagating during the growing season. This is you best hedge against any losses.

 
Begonia Luxurians FAQ

 

Should I mist my Palm-Leaf Begonia?

Avoid misting. This is strange advice considering the tropical rainforest origins of this plant. But misting causes more problems than help grow Begonia luxurians. We have given you other humidity management methods in the section above which you can go through.

 

Do Coffee Grounds help in Begonia luxurians care?

This is known to have some advantages for improving soil properties. Please read the section on ideal soil for Begonia luxurians to learn about coffee grounds.

 

What’s the best method to propagate Begonia luxurians?

My vote goes for tip cuttings in soil or water. But you can grow Begonia luxurians even from seeds or through layering techniques. They root readily.


 

Conclusion

Begonia luxurians or the Palm-Leaf Begonia is unlike any other Begonia I’ve grown but has been one of the most rewarding. If you’re here reading about Begonia luxurians care I take it that you’re no first time parent and have a penchant for exotics.

I suggest you try growing some exotics ferns along with this plant. That’s what I’ve done and the results are spectacular to behold. I recommend that you read more about acidity loving plants here.

Some growers find this plant easy to grow whereas others manage to kill the plant. Personally I’ve found Begonia luxurians care a little tricky particularly when it comes to watering and humidity.

Finally, if you’re new to begonias then it may be a good idea to start off with easy growing varieties such as Begonia Pavonina or Begonia Maculata.

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