Begonia Polilloensis (pronounced as Be-GON-yuh Po-lee-lo-EN-sis) comes from the northern region of the Philippines, in the mountainous area of Luzon and Magat River.
This plant has the most unusual leaves compared to other Begonias.
With the fern-like leaves, this Begonia will look attractive in a pot or terrarium. This plant was first described by Mark C. Tebbitt in 2004.
He is the author of the famous book Begonias that discusses the cultivation, identification, and natural history of this plant genus.
This plant is cultivated to enjoy the ornamental fern-like leaves and the tiny white, yellow blooms. Let’s learn more about this hard-to-find Begonia variety.
Begonia Polilloensis Care
Create a potting mix with peat, perlite, and vermiculite for the Begonia Polilloensis. It grows well under artificial lights and bright filtered sunlight. The best temperature for this Begonia is between 53.6 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit (12 – 30 degrees Celsius).
You can use a potting soil mixture created with peat and perlite to ensure your Begonia is growing in moist soil. This potting mixture provides good drainage.
If you want to increase the moisture retention, add sphagnum moss to the potting mixture.
Maintaining the correct soil pH is also an important part of soil preparation for this plant. The best soil pH for this species is between 5.5 and 6.2. You can use sulfur or lime for pH adjustment.
Below I’m sharing a simple recipe of potting mix that will be great for growing Begonia Polilloensis as a potted houseplant.
- Perlite (1 part) – for aeration
- Sphagnum moss (1/2 part) – for moisture and nutrients retention
- Peat moss (2 parts) – to hold moisture
- Vermiculite (1 part) – to keep the soil moist and aerated
For terrariums, prepare a growing medium using leca, coco coir, landscaping fabric, or sphagnum moss.
This beautiful plant can be grown outdoors also if the climate permits.
It will attract wildlife, specifically bees, to your garden. The USDA hardiness zone for Begonia Polilloensis is 10 to 11.
Water the Begonia Polilloensis regularly so that the potting soil never becomes bone dry, but making sure the top 2 inches dry out. You should use lukewarm water for this plant.
The amount of water needed for indoor houseplants is directly related to light exposure. More light means more water is needed.
This is a terrarium plant, so it enjoys growing under artificial lights. But if you want to keep it under natural light, make sure it grows under indirect bright sunlight.
Lack of sunlight can cause leggy growth on Begonia Polilloensis, and you will notice an overall decline in growth.
This tropical Begonia is grown in greenhouses, conservatories, hanging baskets, and terrariums. The ideal temperature is necessary to create an ideal growing environment for this plant.
If you are growing it inside a terrarium, the ideal temperature’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius).
It can tolerate any temperature that is between 53.6 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (12 and 30 degrees Celsius). Anything lower or higher than this can damage the Begonia Polilloensis.
If the temperature outside goes lower than 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), you have to bring the pot inside.
During the day, try to maintain the humidity close to 70%. At night this plant needs higher humidity (close to 90%).
Begonia Polilloensis has average feeding requirements as long as the soil is healthy. You can give the plant with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) in the growing months.
If you are growing Begonia Polilloensis in a pot, it needs more plant nutrition to help it grow the green foliage and white flowers.
You have to repot the Begonia Polilloensis every two years. The new pot should be 2 inches bigger than the old one.
If you notice that the soil is too compact or your plant has become root bound, you can repot earlier than two years.
There is no fixed period for repotting; it depends on the actual growth and soil condition.
Pruning and pinching are great ways to add volume to your ornamental Begonia Polilloensis. Pinching young leaves on the plant will force it to grow more leaves.
Carefully choose the area where you want more growth and prune or pinch the foliage in that region.
You can also prune the leaves that are yellow, brown, or dead to maintain the natural shape and beauty of this plant.
I would also recommend deadheading the spent flowers to help the plant get rid of the old ones and focus the energy on producing fresh blooms.
Begonia Polilloensis can be propagated using seeds or stem cuttings. My favorite method is the cuttings method, as it takes less time to grow beautiful houseplants.
- All you have to do is take healthy leaves from the Begonia and make sharp cuts on the back sides of the leaves.
- Make sure you make few cuts on the leaf veins. Now place these leaves on a moist soil mixture.
- The veins will be continuously in contact with the soil, and they will start growing small roots.
- This is a straightforward propagation technique, but it often results in leaf rot.
Stem Cuttings Propagation
This plant grows tiny roots along the stems. You can take cuttings from stems that have roots growing on them and use them for propagation.
This method has higher chances of success compared to leaf propagation.
- The first step is sanitization. Sanitize all your trimming tools prior the procedure. Neem oil and isopropyl alcohol are commonly used for this purpose.
- Now trim few healthy stems with leaves using a sharp cutter or scissor. It is important to have 1-2 inches of petiole attached to the leaves.
- Now take a small pot and fill it with a sterile potting mix that is suitable for Begonia growth. I prefer a peat-based mixture that has perlite and vermiculite.
- You can root these cuttings in a glass of water too. But I would go for soil as the growing medium.
- Insert few inches of the stem in the soil. If your leaves keep falling on the soil, you can tie them to a wooden stick using thread.
- Cover this tiny pot with a plastic bag and mist the leaves regularly. The pot should be kept in a bright, warm location but away from direct light.
- The Begonia Polilloensis cutting will start showing signs of new growth within 3-4 weeks. The already present aerial roots will start expanding within the soil, and the cutting will also grow new roots.
- Leave the young plantings in the same pot for about 8 weeks to help strengthen the root system. Later you can move them in a bigger pot with fresh soil and continue the usual plant care shared in this guide.
Begonia Polilloensis produces light pink and white flowers. These are tiny flowers with a yellow center that has stamens or pistils.
This plant will repeatedly bloom throughout the year.
If you compare the leaves with other varieties of Begonia, this plant has thin leaves. These narrow leaves are palmate and resemble a palm or hand with fingers.
The leaves have wavy edges, and leaf veins are visible from the leaf surface. The green foliage complements the pinkish-red stems of the Begonia Polilloensis.
You can grow this variety as a terrarium plant because it’s a dwarf variety that reaches a maximum height of 0.8 ft (25 cm).
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Common Problems for Begonia Polilloensis
Botrytis blight is a common issue for your Begonia Polilloensis when there is a high level of moisture and the temperature around the plant is very cold.
Your affected Begonia will begin to decline rapidly, the foliage and stem will brown along with some water-soaked lesions.
If the fungus is in an advanced stage, all tissues of the plant begin to crack. This blight disease will severely affect the Begonias growing in greenhouses.
Make sure that you take the cuttings from disease-free plants and always use a sterilized medium.
You should always keep the surrounding area clean and free of decaying plants as they can serve as food for the blight fungus.
Also, try to maintain a consistently warm temperature around your Begonia Polilloensis. You can follow the temperature range mentioned in the temperature section.
Avoid overwatering it and apply water only when needed to prevent high levels of moisture.
The very first indication of Mycoplasma or Aster Yellows is the appearance of the chloric or yellow lining around the veins of the young foliage of your plant.
With the advancements in the severity of chlorosis, the leaves of Begonia begin to fall.
Although your affected Begonia Polilloensis won’t die or wilt, you will notice spindle-like growth that diminishes the beauty of this houseplant.
Initially, aster yellow attacks only one part of the Begonia, but it will spread rapidly if not treated. Leafhoppers are responsible for spreading aster yellow in Begonias.
The only method of treating aster yellow is to use insecticidal spray and to remove the severely infected Begonia.
One of the most popular diseases found in houseplants is powdery mildew. Your Begonia Polilloensis will also come across this disease.
A fungus called Erysiphe Cichoracearum causes the formation of powder-like white spots on the lower and upper surfaces of the foliage.
You might notice the formation of greasy white spots on the underside of affected foliage.
There are chances that the flowers of your Begonia Polilloensis may also be affected by powdery mildew.
Powdery mildew will grow rabidly in shaded areas with neutral temperatures and high humidity. The fungus can be spread through water and air.
Examine your Begonia Polilloensis on a regular basis. You can use fungicidal sprays to treat the plant affected by mildew.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Bacterial leaf spot, also known as Xanthomonas campestris, is a very widespread disease that impacts all types of houseplants, including Begonias.
This disease is usually caused when the growing conditions are very humid.
You will find this bacterium spreading rapidly both in the live and dead foliage of your plant.
The presence of bacterial leaf spots can be confirmed if you observe blister-like tiny structures in the underside of the leaves along the veins.
These blisters slowly turn to brown spots, and if no treatment is given, the leaves of Begonia begin to die.
You can frequently spray your plant with neem oil to avoid bacterial leaf spots. There is no cure for Begonia infected with bacterial leaf spot; all you can do is take preventive measures.
If you notice some leaf holes on the thin foliage of this plant, get ready because garden pests have been feasting on your precious Begonia Polilloensis.
This Begonia variety is mostly attacked by thrips, spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids. Luckily all these can be controlled with neem oil or insecticidal spray.
But the treatment should be repeated regularly for the first few weeks else, these pesky bugs will again start multiplying.
Tips for Growing Begonia Polilloensis
- Begonia Polilloensis thrives in lightweight, porous soil that drains well.
- Avoid exposing Begonia Polilloensis to direct sunlight because it can scorch the thin leaves.
- For outdoor planting, a partially shaded location is the best spot for this plant.
- This plant is sensitive to moisture resting on the leaves, so avoid leaving any water on the foliage.
Frequently Asked Questions about Begonia Polilloensis Care
Can I grow Begonia Polilloensis in a hanging basket?
The leaves and flowers of the Begonia Polilloensis fall downwards as they grow; therefore, this plant will look beautiful in a hanging basket.
What’s the best way to keep the Begonia Polilloensis bug-free?
Regularly spray your plant with neem oil spray, check the foliage or flowers for any bugs hiding in them, keep diseased or newly bought plants isolated from other healthy plants in your garden. Good plant hygiene and care is the only way to minimize the risk of pest infection for this plant.
If you like decorating your house with houseplants that have unique leaves or flowers, do not miss the Begonia Polilloensis.
The gorgeous Begonia can produce green foliage with tiny flowers and pink-colored stems.
The small leaves are divided deeply, giving them a resemblance to ferns. Hopefully, you’ll jumpstart growing your Begonia collection after reading this article.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.