Elatior Begonias are a wonderful and bushy member of the Begonia family that is semi tuberous and have been specifically grown to have long indoor flowering seasons.
The flowers are delicate and small and grow on brittle stems. They can be a single or a double flower and range in color from white, to yellow or orange and pink. The foliage is green, and heart shaped and full bodied.
The botanical name for these plants is Begonia X Hiemalis. The word Hiemalis means winter flowering and originally these plants were just that.
They are the perfect indoor plant, requiring shorter days for blooming and were commonly nicknamed Winter Begonias.
Over time though, these gorgeous and resilient plants have been hybrid to be considered and everblooming species. They can bloom year round, multiple times with the proper Elatior Begonia care.
What are the best practices for Elatior Begonia Care?
Elatior Begonia care is pretty simple. They grow well in any high quality, fast draining soil. They need a good anchoring soil to accommodate for the top growth.
For my Elatior Begonia care, I make sure it is in a neutral pH soil with two parts soil and one-part perlite. I have had excellent results with this mixture. In fact, I use it for most of my indoor plants.
I find it works well for anchoring roots, feeding the plant and for drainage and for me that is a three-part win! I have read that an African Violet soil is ideal for Elatior Begonias as well although I have not tried one myself.
I have made my own mix however out of two cups peat moss, one cup vermiculite and one cup of perlite. Another option is mixing one cup peat moss and one cup vermiculite at a 50:50 ratio.
These plants do well with indirect sun or even partial shade. I keep mine away from the direct sun on a bright shelf. If you live in a subtropical area, they can be planted outdoors but will not do well with direct sun. They also need an environment that is not too windy.
The best Elatior Begonia care for watering is to water often enough that it doesn’t get dry between watering. I stick my finger in the soil and water it when the top two inches are not quite dry but will be in another day or two.
I water if fully, allowing the excess to drain through the draining holes in the bottom of the pot and I keep the soil damp but not ever wet. They prefer to have moisture so never letting them dry out completely is key.
A layer of mulch over the soil is a good idea for Elatior Begonia care. These plants do not have tolerance for a wet environment on their leaves so be careful to not splash them too much during watering.
Like all of the Begonia family, Elatior Begonia prefer daily indoor temperatures of 75 degrees with a low of 60 degrees in the night.
They can tolerate higher temperatures as long as they have protection from the harsh sun rays. They are not frost intolerant and do not like being exposed to elements such as wind.
Since Begonia plants are tropical and subtropical, they thrive in humid conditions. I mist my plants periodically however they need to be monitored for mildew when misting is part of the regime.
Part of the Elatior Begonia care I would recommend is having a humidifier if you live in a very dry climate.
This has made a big difference for me in my Elatior Begonia growth. I leave it on all year round to keep the room at around 65%. I would not recommend going lower than 50% humidity and I never let mine get higher than 75% humidity.
I have found that one of the most important things for Elatior Begonia care, is composting. I don’t fertilize it other than to add either a perlite to the soil when I repot.
They grow well for me without fertilizer but if you do want to use one, use a lime free water soluble one. Begonias prefer fertilizer poured around the base.
It can be used every three to four weeks during winter season and every week to two weeks in the summer.
The easiest way to propagate an Elatior Begonia is to take cuttings from the plant to propagate. You can use either a stem or a leaf cutting.
If you give your Elatior Begonia care, it will grow to an average size of 10-18 inches tall and wide. They are densely clustered plants usually and have a mounding habit when growing.
Potting and repotting
I always give my Elatior Begonia a well-draining pot with enough drainage holes in the bottom. All Begonias like to be root bound, so repotting is not necessary very often.
It is beneficial once the roots completely fill the pot. Repotting boosts the soil nutrients and to allow for proper aeration of the soil. Do not repot your begonia if there is still loose soil.
A pot that is too large for a Begonia will allow the soil to supply too many nutrients and too much water and it will wilt as a result.
Elatior Begonia: Common Pests
Like most begonias, these plants are not susceptible to many pests. Check in the joints of the stem periodically for soft cottony masses.
These masses indicate mealy worms and they can be treated with an insecticidal soap and water mixture that is wiped directly onto the leaves and stems or you can use Neem Oil wiped directly onto the leaves and stems.
Don’t leave the leaves wet after application, as this can cause a powdery mildew on them.
Propagation – Let’s dive a bit deeper into the process
Any time you are pruning your Elatior Begonia you can cut a stem or some leaves to propagate.
Cut either a three to four-inch section of stem or a few leaves from the mother plant.
If you used a stem cutting, dip it in rooting powder and plant it in soft soil or just simply put the stem in water and plant it in soil once the roots begin to grow.
Leaves can be directly planted right into a pot and soil. You can use either the whole leaf or leaf sections if you need a lot of plants. To use sections, cut the leaves in sections to plant, ensuring that each section has a portion of the main vein on it before you plant it.
Cuttings can be planted into the same pot as the mother plant provided there is an inch or so left for root growth in the pot. If not, start them in small seedling cups and transplant them into bigger pots as they grow and get root bound.
It is substantially easier to grow a Elatior Begonia from a cutting than it is to grow them from seeds. You can harvest your own but, in my experience, it is better to buy them.
I have never had great results from harvesting seeds from my Elatior Begonia. The seeds are very fine and difficult to work with.
If you buy seeds, just remember in the beginning the growth will be slow. It is best to start Elatior Begonias early in the season, like January or February.
Light can be sparse at that time of year, so if you don’t have a sunny room to put them in you may need to purchase
Tips & Tricks for the well-being of your Elatior Begonia
When you are giving your Elatior Begonia care, a good thing to remember is the humidity levels. I find that my plant flourishes when I have a humidifier in the room with it all year round although I do adjust it to be slightly more humid in the winter.
I don’t mist my Elatior Begonia often as they are very susceptible to leaf mildew however, I do wipe the leaves down with Neem oil or rubbing alcohol periodically to make sure pests stay away.
I also make sure that any new cuttings have lots of humidity to grow. I find the best way to achieve this Elatior Begonia care is to drape a plastic tent over the cuttings to keep the humidity in.
I have also found that having good air quality (a purifier and proper circulation around the plants prevents and combats the powdery mildew that they are so susceptible to.
These plants do not need to be repotted often. I have found that all of my begonias struggle a bit when I do repot them, so I wait until the pot is full of roots with not one inch to spare.
If there is even an inch of extra room in the pot, hold off until it has grown that extra inch. When you are repotting it, use a pot one size bigger than the last one, as it will not grow well if there is more than an inch or so of room in the pot.
I repotted mine into a pot that was two inches bigger once and it wilted and drooped for a long period after repotting. I was certain I was going to lose it but in the end it survived. I will never make that mistake again.
Commonly asked questions about Elatior Begonia
Where can I buy an Elatior Begonia plant?
You don’t have to make any special trips for this plant. They are available regularly at garden and home gardening stores. I have also seen them at grocery stores and even on Amazon! Once you have one plant, you can propagate it into many more for years to come with the proper Elatior Begonia care.
Does my Elatior Begonia care need to include regular pruning?
It is a good idea to deadhead the flowers from the plant as needed and it is a good idea to cut the plant back to a height of two to four inches to encourage new growth. This should be done after blooming is complete. It will encourage new blooms when this is done on a regular schedule. This is also a good time to propagate the cuttings and grow new plants.
Are Elatior Begonia plants toxic to animals?
Yes. They can cause swelling and burning in the mouth along with vomiting and liver failure. I keep mine in a closed off room away from my pets.
Can I plant Elatior Begonias in my outdoor garden if I live in a colder climate?
Yes, but once the cool climate comes you will need to bring it indoors or it will die over the winter months. I put mine out in their pots in the summer instead of planting them in the garden directly. This means I can bring them in overnight when it gets cool and in the winter. Before I take them out each summer, I harden the plant. Take it out for an hour or two the first day and place it in indirect sunlight in an area that isn’t windy. The next two or three days take it out for three or four hours at a time under the same conditions. Keep adding time until the plant is out for seven hours during the day. I personally don’t leave mine out for longer than that on any given day.
Elatior Begonias are a beautiful bushy plant that is easy to maintain and easy to propagate. They prefer being in an indirect light source and require a humid, but not wet environment.
Elatior Begonias prefer to be rootbound and as such don’t need to be repotted much and as long as they are in a well-draining pot with rich, well-draining soil they will thrive.
They produce delicate flowers in the summer which should be deadheaded as they die, and the plant pruned once the blooms are finished completely.
For proper Elatior Begonia care, remember to keep temperatures warm and humid as they are originally a subtropical plant.
They also do very well with a humidifier in the room or in a greenhouse where it is naturally humid. Just be sure to keep them in indirect sunlight or their delicate foliage will get burnt and die and don’t let their leaves stay wet because they are very susceptible to leaf mildew.
Overall, these are an easy plant to care for that look delightful in a garden or in a pot. I have even grown them in larger containers as an accent piece to my greenhouse with great results.
They are pretty and delicate and when they bloom, they turn any area into a beautiful focal point of white and pink or yellow. They are a beautiful and affordable addition to any garden or home.
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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.