Begonia Maculata commonly referred to as the Polka dot Begonia, is undoubtedly one of the most strikingly gorgeous species of indoor plants. This exotic plant derives its name from its unique silver spotted leaves and red undersides.
In fact, it is rumoured that Christian Louboutin created his trademark red-heeled shoe to mimic the undersides of the Begonia Maculata. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that this plant requires specialized attention and care.
On the upside, you will be rewarded with beautiful white to pale pink flowers late winter and throughout the spring season, and she will grow to a height of up to 1.5 meters. Here is everything you need to know.
- 1 Begonia Maculata Care Sheet:
- 2 Propagation of the Begonia Maculata
- 3 Begonia Maculata Care Tips
- 4 How to Water Begonia Maculata in Pots
- 5 What Does the Begonia Maculata Look Like?
- 6 The Origin of the Begonia Maculata
Begonia Maculata Care Sheet:
Begonia Maculata does very well in a mixture of sand, clay and loamy soil inside a pot with good drainage.
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.
The Polka dot Begonia 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.
If the leaves start to appear scorched, you should move it to a less sunny part of the room.
If you like to take your plant outside during summer, make sure to place it in the shade away from direct sunlight.
Striking the right balance when it comes to watering the Begonia Maculata is quite a challenge.
For starters, 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 first 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 of whether to water it or not, it is actually better to err on the side of caution until the leaves start to show signs of wilting, an indication that there is little water left in the pot.
When watering it, pour water directly onto the soil, ensuring the leaves remain dry.
The Begonia Maculata is a tropical plant, and, therefore, cannot thrive in cold conditions.
Its ideal temperature is between 18 to 22 degrees Celsius or (67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
This might be a tall order for anyone in temperate climates, such as Europe, but rest assured temperature-related damage does not happen until temperatures drop to less than 15 degrees Celsius (or 60 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Polka dot Begonia requires high levels of humidity, which is usually a big challenge for indoor plants.
You may have to set it in the kitchen or bathroom because these places typically have high moisture levels.
Alternatively, you can set it in your favourite room, but make sure to 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 the roots overly wet. You should also ensure the leaves remain dry because the plant is susceptible to powdery mildew.
It is advisable to fertilize the Begonia Maculata after every two weeks 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.
In this case, if the package says you should use one cup of water to dilute the solution, use two cups instead.
The Begonia Maculata is relatively easy to propagate through cuttings. Propagation is best done during the heart of winter when blooming is minimal.
All you have to do is cut off a stem with no flowers just below the bud. Remove the lower leaves and dip it in a jar of water.
Let it remain inside the jar until roots start to form. After that, plant it in a mix of sandy, loamy and clay soil. Water it so that the soil is lightly moist but not overly soaked.
Begonia Maculata grows to about 1.5 m tall. The leaves are usually asymmetric, extending to approximately 20 cm in length.
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 colour.
Flowers usually form in single clusters and are white to pale pink. You should remove any wilted flowers on a regular basis 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 just above the bud by about half its length. New branches will form from the buds to create a pleasant thick appearance.
Correct potting is an integral part of the growth cycle of the Begonia Maculata.
The right pot size and type determines, to a large extent, whether the plant will thrive or not.
Begonia Maculata likes to be pot-bound, and thus requires smaller pots than most other houseplants. Regular repotting is also essential during the first years of its life.
The best time to repot is during spring. When repotting it, choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one.
An ideal container is one with good drainage and great moisture holding capability.
Propagation of the Begonia Maculata
You can grow new Begonia Maculata plants from seeds, but the easiest and most rewarding way to grow them is to propagate it from cuttings.
Begonia Maculata: Propagation from leaf cuttings
To make new Polka dot Begonia plants from cuttings, all you have to do is snip a few fresh leaves from your plant.
Lay the leaves flat upside down and use a clean, sharp knife to slice them into neat wedges. (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, if you need just a few new plants, you do not have to slice the leaves up.
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).
To make a nursery for your leaf cuttings, fill a small pot with well-draining soil. You can even use a mixture of vermiculite, peat, and perlite moss.
Stick the leaf wedges or petiole stalks into the soil or moss, and store the pot in a plastic bag in a bright and warm place 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 in about three to four weeks from the time you planted them.
After six weeks, you should have your baby plants ready to be moved to your favorite pot or garden.
Alternatively, you can make new Begonia Maculata 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 are ready to be transferred to new pots.
Begonia Maculata: 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 begin to form in about 5 to 7 weeks.
Begonia Maculata: Propagation from seeds
Growing the Polka dot Begonia from its seeds is harder and usually takes time.
Keep in mind 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. In fact, you may not even get any baby plants if you use sterile hybrids.
All in all, propagating the Begonia Maculata is exciting and enjoyable. Have fun with your new cute baby plants.
Begonia Maculata Care Tips
You can always take your plant outdoors, especially during summer, to give it a boost in the sun. Alternatively, you can choose to keep it indoors all year round.
If you do decide to take it outside for a little sun, make sure to bring it indoors before it gets too cold.
Begonia Maculatas cannot withstand frost and will wilt and die as soon as they are exposed to frost.
It is advisable to bring it back indoors as soon as temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
They do not like cold temperatures, and the sudden shock after such temperature change is definitely too much for them.
Ensure to take them indoors in time, and they will thrive and survive beautifully.
How to Water Begonia Maculata in Pots
Taking care of the Begonia Maculata can be a big challenge because they are extremely sensitive to water.
In fact, I can confidently say overwatering is the leading killer of Begonia Maculata houseplants.
As a rule, only water them when they start to show signs of wilting. Allow the soil to actually dry out in between the waterings.
To check the moisture content, dip a finger into the soil about an inch deep before adding any water. Only water it if the soil feels dry.
If you are having 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 Begonia Maculata is not as sensitive as other indoor plants like the African Violets, it is highly susceptible to damage if it gets wet.
To avoid such problems, always water your plant from the bottom rather than from the top.
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, either. 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 Begonia Maculata Look Like?
Begonia Maculata 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 green to emerald green, and are beautifully speckled with bright spots along the veins of the leaf.
Every season is a show season for the Polka dot Begonia, though you can expect it to mainly flower during late winter up until the end of spring.
Its beautiful white flowers sprout in clusters from a single stem.
The Origin of the Begonia Maculata
The beautiful Begonia Maculata 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.