Bronze leaf Begonias are a species of wax Begonia that can be grown both indoors and outdoors.
They are perennials but often treated as annuals to embellish gardens and balconies during the summer or cultivated indoors if you want year-round Begonia wonderfulness.
In this article, we are taking a deep dive into caring for a Bronze leaf Begonia both indoors and outdoors and all of the tips and tricks for easy and successful Bronze leaf Begonia care.
Planted in your garden, on a window sill or balcony, or indoors in a pot, a Bronze leaf Begonia is easy to care for and will thrive with just a little bit of TLC.
- 1 Bronze leaf Begonia Care
- 2 Common Problems with Bronze leaf Begonias
- 3 Tips to keep Bronze leaf Begonias problem-free
- 4 Frequently asked questions about Bronze left Begonia
- 5 Conclusion
Bronze leaf Begonia Care
When kept outdoors and planted in your garden bed, plant your Bronze leaf Begonia in well-draining soil high in organic matter.
If kept indoors and planted in a pot you can use regular growers mix and add 20% of some aeration medium like perlite or orchid bark chips.
Begonias in general prefer slightly acidic soil so adding a little bit of peat on top will do the trick, as well as increase the water retention of your soil mix.
Bronze leaf Begonias differ from their wax leaf Begonia cousins in the color of the leaves that allow them a higher tolerance for direct sunlight.
Usually, it is safest to plant Begonias in a place in your garden that offers them morning light and afternoon shade, but the Bronze-leaved varieties are more suited for full sun so you have more freedom placement wise.
When grown indoors an east, west, or south-facing window are all fine, but if any browning occurs and you notice your plant is getting sun-burnt move it further away from the window.
Alternatively, they also grow well under artificial fluorescent grow lights.
When planted outdoors keep the soil moist the entire first week after planting and then ease back and water as soon as you notice the top of the soil is dry.
It is best to water early in the morning and as close to the soil as possible, to avoid getting the leaves wet, and to let any wet leaves dry so that you can avoid pests and fungal issues.
When grown indoors in a pot you can let the top of the soil dry slightly between waterings. About once a week should be enough.
You will have to water more often in the summer and less during the winter.
Temperatures between 60 and 75F are most appropriate for Bronze leaf Begonias and that is when they will do most of the growing and flowering.
They are not frost hardy and will not tolerate low temperatures well, which is why you should plan on how to overwinter them if you live in an area that has cold autumns and winters.
If your Bronze leaf Begonias are growing outdoors and you live in a temperate climate you should probably plan on what to do with them once it gets colder.
Since these begonias are not tuberous you can’t dig up the tubers and plant them again in spring.
Before the temperatures start dropping below 60F, you will have to dig the plant up and repot it in a planter. As you are doing this and before you bring the plant inside, is it wise to do some pruning and pest checking.
Cut away any spent flowers or dry and damaged leaves and stems and thoroughly check for pests and diseases.
At the moment they are used to a lot of light, so when brought inside they should be placed in a brightly lit and warm spot.
Try to achieve conditions that are as similar to the ones outside so that your Begonia isn0t shocked by the change, as they might drop their leaves because of this.
You can gradually adapt it to lower light as time passes. Once the temperatures are appropriate again you can take them outside again.
Bronze leaf Begonias like higher humidity, but if you can keep the humidity in your home around or above 50% this will be enough. Alternatively, you can introduce a humidity tray that will help increase the humidity near your plant.
You do this by filling a tray or saucer with pebbles and add some water, then place the plant pot on top.
This way the water will evaporate and raise humidity but the soil will not get wet.
This is not an issue you would run in if you are growing your Bronze leaf Begonia outdoors.
When grown outdoors use an all-purpose fertilizer for annuals once a month during the warm season. You could also throw in some slow-release granular fertilizer while planting.
When growing it indoors you are dealing with a smaller amount of soil and you should be more careful because of mineral buildup and root burn. I like to use a liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength monthly on my Bronze leaf Begonias, and always fertilize after watering as to not burn the roots.
I also suggest you cut back on the fertilizer once the colder months roll in, to once every two months or less.
This plant is very common and easily found in garden centers, so if you want more Bronze leaf Begonias and don’t feel like going through the process of propagating you are in luck.
If you want to share your plant and go through the process of cutting and rooting you are in luck as well as these Begonias are extremely easy to propagate.
Read the steps below and you will be able to share your Bronze leaf Begonia with all your friends and family.
- Choose a healthy cutting that has at least a couple of nodes (the place where the stem and the leaves meet) but did not flower yet.
- Cut this stem about half an inch below the lowest node and remove the lower leaves.
- Put your cutting in distilled water so that it doesn’t touch the remaining leaves.
- Keep these cuttings in a well lit and warm spot like a window sill
- Wait for the roots to come in and when you notice an inch or more of roots this is the time to plant your cutting in soil
- Prepare your pot in advance. Create a hole in the middle of the soil and moisten it evenly.
- Plant your new Bronze leaf Begonia in its new pot at least a node deep
- Keep an eye on it the first couple of weeks as new cuttings are extra prone to pests and diseases
It has a bushy upright habit of growth with well-branched stems on top of which blooms appear. Pinching off spent flowers will encourage more blooms, so do this whenever you can.
If you are planting your Bronze leaf Begonia in your garden use a flat head shovel to remove the top layer of grass from the spot you chose.
Add some compost do enrich the soil by turning over the soil and gradually adding in compost in the top six inches of the ground.
Rake the bed so it is smooth and then create the holes of your chosen container size. Space the holes apart about six to seven inches and place the plants in the ground.
Press the spoil firmly and always water thoroughly just after planting and keep the soil moist for about a week.
If you are keeping your Bronze leaf Begonia as an indoor houseplant repot it when necessary. This will not be often as Begonias like to be a little root-bound.
Check the bottom of the pot to see if any roots are peeking out of the drainage holes in your pot.
When you see a good amount of roots and just before they start tangling to the point where you have to break them to get the plant out you should repot and upside the container by an inch or two.
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Common Problems with Bronze leaf Begonias
When growing Bronze leaf Begonias you might run into several pests and diseases but more often than not the main culprits tend to be slugs, powdery mildew, and root rot.
I write more on each of these below so keep on reading.
Slugs can be a real problem when growing Bronze leaf Begonias outside. I am personally very much against most slug poison or bait as even the ones that are approved for organic gardening cause the slugs to die a painful death.
Even well-known remedies like beer traps will cause the death of the slugs so alternatively, I set up a polenta trap.
They have a sweet tooth for polenta, so I place a container with moistened polenta in my garden and wait for them to gather in it. Once they are all inside munching on polenta, I carry them far away from my garden.
If you have an enormous invasion and there is no way around it, leave a half-empty beer can or two on the ground and they will gather inside and die.
Begonias are susceptible to powdery mildew and this issue can come about with high moisture and little air circulation.
Make sure you give your Bronze leaf Begonias enough space between them and to water at the soil rather than getting the leaves wet to avoid this problem.
If you do notice round white fluffy mildew marks on your begonia leaves remove the ones that are irreparably affected 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.
Make sure you get both the top and bottom of the leaves.
Bronze leaf Begonias can get root rot easily if you do not choose the right soil medium and if you over-water your plant.
Make sure you add some perlite or some other aerating agent to your soil mix before potting a Begonia.
Also, make sure your pot has drainage holes and that after you water the plant the soil is not left soggy.
Soggy soil means less oxygen to the roots and the roots standing in water which causes bacterial and fungal issues to fester.
If you notice your plant wilting and yellowing after watering this is probably the cause.
You should take the plant out of its soil, inspect the roots and remove any dead, black, or brown roots, shower them well and repot in fresh, sterile, and more aerated soil.
Tips to keep Bronze leaf Begonias problem-free
- If you live in a temperate climate take them inside during the winter
- Do not over-water to prevent root rot
- Fertilize regularly and in small amounts
- Pinch off spent blooms to encourage more flowering
- Keep in a well lit and well-ventilated spot
Frequently asked questions about Bronze left Begonia
Where in the garden is the best place for a Bronze leaf Begonia?
The best place for them in the garden is a sunny spot with dappled shade in the afternoon. The Bronze leaf variety is more resistant to the sun than other green-leaved varieties of Begonias.
When is the best time to overwinter Bronze leaf Begonias?
Ideally, you would not let temperatures drop below 60 degrees before you take them in.
Lower temperatures will cause them to drop their leaves from shock, so doing it before will yield the best results as to the plant surviving the winter.
What plants should I plant next to my Bronze leaf Begonias?
Apart from other species of Begonias that have different color blooms I like to couple Begonias with Ferns. They contrast the colorful blooms well and their needs are pretty similar.
To conclude I think any gardener should have a beautiful Bronze leaf Begonia in their garden at least once in their lifetime.
They are low maintenance, they tolerate the sun well, and have normal watering and fertilizing needs.
In addition to that, they are ridiculously easy to propagate and you can overwinter them so that you can enjoy them year after year as well.
All of this makes the Bronze leaf and any other Begonias an ”evergreen” staple in flowering gardens.