Begonia maculata care goes by the botanical name Begonia maculata var. wightii. It is a fibrous-rooted upright Angel-Winged cane Begonia.
It is commonly referred to as the Polka Dot Begonia or Spotted Begonia, according to RHS. It derives its name from its unique silver spotted leaves and red undersides. The leaf blades have silver polka dots on the upper side.
It is rumored that Christian Louboutin created his trademark red-heeled shoe to mimic the red leaf undersides of the Trout Begonia. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that this plant requires specialized attention and care.
Begonia maculata Care Takeaways
|Species||Begonia maculata var. wightii|
|Synonyms||Polka Dot Begonia, Polka Dot Plant, Angel Wing Begonia, Begonia maculata wightii, Trout begonia, Clown Begonia|
|Soil||Well-draining sand, clay, and loamy soil|
|Watering||Water every 5 to 7 days|
|Temperature||65 to 86°F|
|Fertilizer||Fertilize 2 times per month|
|Propagation||Stem cuttings, seeds|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets such as cats and dogs as it contains soluble calcium oxalates. Ingestion can cause irritation and vomiting.|
Begonia maculata care
For the best care, use sandy clay and loamy soil as potting mix. Provide bright indirect light between 10k – 20k lux or 2k – 5k foot candles from an east- or west-facing window. Keep the soil slightly damp and water once the top inch (2.5cm) is almost dry about once a week. The ideal temperatures range between 65 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsius). Keep humidity at 50% or higher. Fertilize by-weekly in spring and summer and every two months in Autumn and Winter.
According to the University of Florida, the Begonia family comprises more than 1300 species and hybrids.
Spotted Begonia Care Video
Begonia Maculata Plant Care
Soil For Angel Wing Begonia
Begonia maculata wightii does very well in a mixture of sand, clay, and loamy soil inside a pot with good drainage. This plant prefers slightly moist soil but never soggy soil.
This plant is highly susceptible to root rot. As such, it is always best to add a layer of pebbles or broken pieces of terracotta pots to the bottom for better drainage.
You should repot the plant in a bigger pot about twice its previous size once the current pot becomes root-bound.
Cane Begonia Light Requirements
This plant prefers bright indirect sunlight (filtered light) to thrive. Bright light is considered light between 10k – 20k lux or 2k – 5k foot candles. Avoid direct light, as it might scorch the leaves.
If it isn’t getting enough light, the color of the leaves will be less intense. Your plant will become leggy and will not flower.
Higher light levels will promote the intense green coloring and the white dots.
It prefers a bit more shade than most indoor plants.
Placing it in a bright, well-lit room away from direct sunlight is advisable to keep those silvery-white olive leaves vibrant.
You can use a light meter to measure the light your spotted Begonia gets.
Let me tell you one thing. I was shocked to find out how little light my plants receive indoors—even the ones relatively close to a window or a light source. Light falls off so quickly.
If you like to take your plant outside during summer, place it in the shade away from direct sunlight.
Do not put your grow light too close, though, and follow the guidelines in the instruction manual.
If the leaves appear scorched, move your Begonia to a less sunny part of the room or further away from the grow light.
Too much light will be indicated by burgundy leaf color, whereas a healthy plant with optimal light will have light green to dark green leaf uppersides.
Keep the soil slightly damp at all timei and water about once a week when the soil is still slightly moist to the touch. Avoid soggy soils, as this will lead to root rot.
Let this Begonia almost dry out between waterings, as these plants do not tolerate soggy soil.
Consistent moisture is key for a happy maculata.
Striking the right balance when watering the Begonia maculata wightii is challenging.
The soil should be a bit damp but not overly wet. This is because it is highly susceptible to root rot.
Before watering, you should test the soil for dampness by dipping a finger into the soil- the top portion should be dry to about an inch deep.
If you are unsure whether to water it, it is better to err on caution until the leaves start showing signs of wilting, indicating little water left in the pot.
When watering it, pour water directly onto the soil, ensuring the leaves remain dry.
Its ideal temperature is between 67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 22 degrees Celsius). Begonia maculata is hardy until USDA Hardiness Zone 11.
This might be a tall order for anyone in temperate climates, such as Europe. However, rest assured that temperature-related damage does not happen until temperatures drop to less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
When kept indoors, ensure that this Begonia is not too close to cold, drafty windows and far away from radiators and air conditioners, as these conditions will damage the foliage.
It requires high levels of humidity above 50%. Bathrooms, given the right level of light, are a great choice, as well as a terrarium. Alternatively, use a humidifier.
Alternatively, you can set it in your favorite room, but place a saucer of water near it to ensure it creates the required humidity as the water evaporates.
Caution: Do not place the pot inside the saucer of water because this could make roots overly wet. You should also ensure the leaves remain dry because the plant is susceptible to powdery mildew.
A humidifier is a great way to increase humidity and ensure constant high humidity levels for your plants.
I have reviewed and listed the best humidifiers for houseplants in a blog post.
When and How Often to Fertilize
It is advisable to fertilize every two weeks in Spring and Summer using a balanced liquid fertilizer to encourage the growth of healthy leaves and more prominent blooms.
For best results, use half the required dosage of water-soluble fertilizer according to package instructions.
If the package says you should use one cup of water to dilute the solution, use two cups instead.
Fertilize about once every two months in Autumn and Winter.
Star Begonia Propagation
This indoor plant is relatively easy to propagate through cuttings. Propagation is best done during the heat of winter when blooming is minimal.
All you do is cut off a stem with no flowers below the bud. Remove the lower leaves and dip them in a jar of water.
Let it remain inside the jar until roots start to form. After that, plant it in sandy, loamy, and clay soil. Water it so that the soil is lightly moist but not overly soaked.
You can grow new plants from seeds, but propagating from cuttings is the easiest and most rewarding way to grow them.
Propagation from leaf cuttings
You only have to snip a few fresh leaves from your plant to make new Polka dot Begonia plants from cuttings.
Lay the leaves flat upside down and slice them into neat wedges with a clean, sharp knife. (Be extra careful if you are using a razor blade).
Make sure you have a vein in each wedge piece. You can make a lot of baby Begonia plants using this method.
However, you do not have to slice the leaves up for just a few new plants.
Simply snip out some leaves from the main plant leaving at least 1 inch of petiole still attached to each leaf (the petiole is the stalk that extends from the leaf and attaches it to the stem of the plant).
Fill a small pot with well-draining soil to make a nursery for your leaf cuttings. You can even use a mixture of vermiculite, peat, perlite, and moss.
Stick the leaf wedges or petiole stalks into the soil or moss, and store the pot in a bright, warm plastic bag away from direct sunlight.
Make sure the soil in the pot has a little water to keep the cuttings moist, but do not overwater it as this could cause rot.
You should start seeing roots about three to four weeks after planting them.
After six weeks, your baby plants should be ready to move to your favorite pot or garden.
Alternatively, you can make new Begonia plants by propagating your cuttings in a glass with fresh, clean water.
Food jars are the ideal size for this type of propagation. A single jar can accommodate several cuttings.
Once the roots are about half an inch long, your cuttings can be transferred to new pots.
Propagation from stem cuttings
Begonia maculata will also grow from stem cuttings, commonly known as rhizomes. Rhizomes are long, thick stems that can be grown under the soil.
Start by cutting a rhizome piece about 1 inch long and press it gently into a pot with a mix of well-draining soil or moss.
Just like their leaf counterparts, ensure they remain moist but not wet.
Keep them in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight until the roots form in about 5 to 7 weeks.
Propagation from seeds
Growing the Polka dot Begonia from its seeds is more challenging and takes time.
Remember that if the seeds are from hybrid plants, you will not get baby begonias that are a replica of their parents.
This is because hybrids are a mix of different varieties. You may not even get any baby plants if you use sterile hybrids.
Read more about Begonia maculata propagation.
It produces a cluster of white flowers with yellow centers and single stems—the Maculata flowers between Spring and Autumn.
You will be rewarded with beautiful white to pale pink flowers in late winter and throughout the spring season.
It grows to about 4.9 feet tall (1.5 m). The leaves are usually asymmetric, extending to approximately 7.9 inches (20 cm). This Begonia is a vigorous grower.
The upper surface of the leaf is dark green with silvery-white spots, while the reverse is red. Young leaves are pink to maroon in color.
Flowers usually form in single clusters and are white to pale pink. You should remove any wilted flowers regularly to stimulate the growth of new ones.
Similarly, you should prune it regularly to create a beautiful bushy shape. Spring and summer are usually the best seasons to prune it.
Snip back the overgrown branches above the bud by about half its length. New branches will form from the buds to create a pleasant thick appearance.
This houseplant likes to be pot-bound and thus requires smaller pots than most other houseplants. Regular repotting with fresh soil is also essential during the first years of its life to ensure it gets sufficient nutrients. Make sure the pot has drainage holes so excess water can escape.
Correct potting is an integral part of the growth cycle. The right pot size and type determines, to a large extent, whether the plant will thrive or not.
The best time to repot is during spring. When repotting it, choose a pot size larger than the current one. An ideal container is one with good drainage and excellent moisture-holding capability.
Propagation from seeds
Growing this plant seeds is more challenging and takes time.
Remember that if the seeds are from hybrid plants, you will not get baby Begonias that are a replica of their parents.
This is because hybrids are a mix of different varieties. You may not even get any baby plants if you use sterile hybrids.
Begonia Care Tips Outdoors
You can always take your plant outdoors, especially during summer, to boost it in the sun. Alternatively, you can choose to keep it indoors all year round.
If you take it outside for a little sun, bring it indoors before it gets too cold.
They cannot withstand frost and will wilt and die as soon as they are exposed to frost.
Bringing it back indoors when temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is advisable.
They do not like cold temperatures, and the sudden shock after such a temperature change is too much for them.
Ensure to take them indoors in time, and they will thrive and survive beautifully.
According to the University of Connecticut, it can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 10b-11.
How to Water
Taking care of the Eyelash Begonia can be a big challenge because they are extremely sensitive to water.
I can confidently say overwatering is the leading issue.
As a rule, only water them when they show signs of wilting. Allow the soil actually to dry out in between the waterings.
To check the moisture content, dip a finger into the soil about an inch deep before adding water. Only water it if the soil feels almost dry.
If you have a hard time when it comes to watering your plants, I recommend buying a soil moisture gauge for better accuracy.
On the same note, be careful about how you water your plant. The leaves and stems should never get wet.
While the Maculata is not as sensitive as other indoor plants like the African Violets, it is highly susceptible to damage if wet.
Always water your plant from the bottom rather than the top to avoid such problems.
Fill a tray with water and allow the plant to soak it up through its porous base.
Do not let your plant sit in the water for too long. Just let it soak water up to the point where the soil is a little moist. You can then discard the remaining water.
What Does the Fancy-leafed Begonia Look Like?
It is a gorgeous perennial plant that blossoms with white to pale pink flowers up to three times a year.
The upper side of the leaf is green, forming a drastic contrast with the red-Bordeaux reverse.
You’ll also notice that its evergreen leaves evolve from olive to emerald green and are beautifully dotted with bright spots along the leaf’s veins.
Every season is a show season for the Polka dot Begonia, though you can expect it to flower mainly from late winter until the end of spring.
Its beautiful white flowers sprout in clusters from a single stem.
The beautiful Polka Dot plant belongs to the long line of Begonia species. It was first discovered in Brazil in 1982 by an Italian researcher.
However, it is originally native to Mexico, Asia, South Africa, and Central America. It grows best in moist subtropical and tropical climates, but indoor species do well in cooler environments.
This plant undoubtedly shines as an exquisite indoor treasure.
Its scientific name Maculata is derived from its whitish spots, while the other name Begonia is derived from the shape of its stem.
Where to buy
You can buy it directly from Amazon, Logees, or Steves Leaves.
How much does it cost?
The average price for a nice-sized plant is $20.
Is Begonia maculata toxic?
It is toxic to pets such as cats and dogs. It can still cause irritation and vomiting as it contains soluble calcium oxalates, according to ASCPA. Therefore make sure to keep it away from small kids and pets.
Pests and Diseases
Common problems are:
Brown and black spots on leaves are caused by fungus or bacteria. The main reason is overwatering. Remove any leaf section or leaves with brown spots and check the roots.
If the roots are mushy, remove the mushy parts and rinse the roots with water. Exchange the potting soil and disinfect the pot.
Dry Leaf Tips
Dry leaf tips are an indicator of underwatering or insufficient humidity. In addition, dry leaf tips can occur because of chlorinated tap water.
The best way to avoid dry leaf tips is frequent watering, humidity above 50%, and rainwater or tap water allowed to sit for at least 12-24 hours.
Yellow leaves can be a sign of over- or underwatering. Yellow leaves are also often caused by pest infestations.
To avoid yellow leaves, stick to a consistent water regimen and neither over- nor underwater your plant.
Excess water will lead to root rot, affecting the whole plant.
Ensure your Angel Wing plant has a pot with drainage holes, and refrain from watering when the soil is still humid.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Small, brown, or black water-soaked spots on leaf blades indicate bacterial leaf spots. It is caused by bacteria and might lead to the collapse of a leaf if more spots occur.
Bacterial leaf spots usually start on older leaves, according to the University of California.
Copper fungicides and sulfur can be sprayed weekly to prevent the disease.
Spider Mites are a type of spider and are not insects, according to Planet Natural. They are round and reddish-brown. Since they are tiny, they are hard to spot with bare eyes.
Spider mites have a soft body and can be squished and removed using cotton swaps with rubbing alcohol.
They damage plant tissue and are mostly found on the underside of leaves.
To get rid of spider mites, use an insecticide.
Here is how to revive the plant.
A common sign of Begonia maculata being unhappy is leaf drop. The causes are either over- or underwatering, insufficient or too much light, temperature fluctuations, and extreme temperatures.
There are multiple types of Begonia macualta:
- Begonia maculata Silver Spot
- Cane Begonia Torch
- Begonia maculata Flamingo Queen
- Cane Begonia Albo-picta – rosea
- Begonia maculata Raddi
- Cane Begonia Coccinea
- Cane Begonia Lucerna
- Begonia maculata Medora
- Begonia maculata Annan Grace
- Cane Begonia maculata Mrs Hashimoto X Maculata
- Cane Begonia Maculata Albo-picta
- Cane Begonia Sinbad
- Begonia The Wiz
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you care for an Angel Wing Begonia?
To care for an Angel Wing Begonia provide well-draining soil. Keep the temperature between 67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 22 degrees Celsius). Water once a week when the top 1 inch (2.5cm) of soil is almost dry, and keep it slightly moist. Bright indirect light between 10k – 20k lux or 2k – 5k foot candles is best. Humidity should be above 50%.
Is Begonia maculata hard to care for?
Begonia maculata is not hard to care for, but it isn’t the easiest plant to care for either. They are fussy if they get too much sunlight or if you keep them too wet or dry. If these aspects are in check, it is not difficult.
Is the Begonia maculata rare?
Begonia maculata is not rare. Although you cannot buy it in every online shop or garden center, it is readily available in most countries.
Should you mist an Angel Wing Begonia?
You should not mist your Angel Wing Begonia. Misting keeps leaves dry for too long if insufficient air circulation is provided. In addition, it does little for the overall humidity levels in the air. Put it close to other plants or provide a pebble tray filled with water underneath.
How do I get my Begonia maculata to flower?
Begonia maculata flowers in spring and summer. Providing sufficient fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer. Keep the soil slightly moist and provide bright indirect sunlight to get your Begonia to flower.
Is Angel Wing Begonia the same as Begonia maculata?
Angel wing begonia is used as a synonym for Begonia maculata. However, there are multiple Begonias with angel-wing-shaped leaves called Angel Wing Begonia, such as Begonia Splash Splash, Begonia Silver Wings, Begonia Esther Albertine, and many more.
Are there different types of Begonia maculata?
There are different types of Begonia maculata. They all look very similar and are hard to distinguish.
How fast does Begonia maculata grow? This Begonia has a fast growth rate
It is a fast grower producing leaves almost weekly. It can grow up to 12 inches per growing season (30cm).
To care for Begonia maculata provide:
- Light: Bright indirect
- Temperature: 65-86°F (18-30°C)
- Humidity: 60-80%
- Fertilizer: Fertilize bi-weekly in spring and summer
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.
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