You probably know the beefsteak begonia because it’s one of the most commonly passed-down plants from generation to generation. It may even be the plant that gets you into gardening in the first place.
This is a lovely plant you should give love and care to if you want to be rewarded with beautiful foliage. It’s a classic plant that evokes a certain amount of reminiscence.
This vintage plant has special care requirements you need to know to carry on the legacy of this heirloom variety of indoor tropical plants.
What is Beefsteak Begonia Anyway?
Beefsteak begonia is a classic begonia species that produces deep red and dark green foliage that looks like a nice steak of beef that’s been aged. It’s a beautiful plant at home in hanging gardens. It grows stunningly in planters and pots with the particular care this guide describes. You can revive and grow your grandmother’s beefsteak begonia quickly in your home.
How to Save a Dying Beefsteak Begonia
Unfortunately, people interested in growing Beefsteak Begonia have inherited a plant that is struggling to survive. It’s rare to see this plant in stores today, as it stopped being popular many years ago. Most of the beefsteak begonia around these days are vintage plants cultivated by our most favorite relatives.
The first thing you must do is ensure the plant has the best growing conditions possible so you can make sure it does well. The beefsteak begonia is a tropical species that require specific growing conditions to thrive. If you don’t provide the right environment, your beefsteak begonia will suffer a slow death.
This guide will give you all the information you need to save a dying beefsteak begonia.
How to Care for Beefsteak Begonia
Most of the problems that happen when you care for a beefsteak begonia occur due to poor husbandry. It’s easy to care for these tropical plants once you know the right way to do it.
We will give you all the information you need to grow healthy and strong beefsteak begonias long after your grandma has gone.
– Proper Planters
One thing that makes this plant particularly special is its ability to be grown indoors with ease. It makes an excellent container plant, and it’ll do wonderfully in hanging planters when given the proper care.
It likes to be somewhat root bound, so keep it in a pot only barely big enough for the roots. We will show you the best ways to make sure your beefsteak begonia has the best chance of survival.
– Soil Conditions
Beefsteak begonias originate from tropical regions where they grow naturally in slightly acidic, fast-draining soil. You can replicate the perfect conditions in your home by purchasing specially formulated potting soil for beefsteak begonia plants.
You can also make the ideal soil for growing beefsteak begonias by mixing high-quality potting soil with aged compost and vermiculite or pumice to improve drainage.
– Water Requirements
Beefsteak begonias require frequent watering, but you don’t want to let water stagnate in the pot. Your beefsteak begonia will grow best when it has plenty of drainages.
The best way to water a mature plant is to wait until the top half-inch of soil is slightly dry, then gently run water in the pot until it comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom. This ensures the plant gets adequate water. Young plants should be watered more frequently than mature plants, but ensure the soil isn’t becoming waterlogged.
Not only is frequent watering important, but many people have also had issues growing beefsteak begonia plants due to insufficient quality water. You should have your tap water tested regularly and avoid watering plants when sodium and chloride levels are high. You will have the best results using purified water.
– Humidity Requirements
The beefsteak begonia is a humidity-loving plant. It’ll grow best between 30 percent and 60 percent humidity, which is about U.S. households’ average. If your beefsteak begonia shows signs of dryness or if the humidity in your home is too low, use a spray bottle to mist the leaves, which will increase the humidity.
Another way to provide ideal humidity for beefsteak begonia plants is to place the pot on a tray of stones or pebbles filled with water. Ensure the pot isn’t sitting in water, though, because the soil will absorb the water, and you’ll end up damaging the plant. Just a little water in the tray will allow evaporation to increase the humidity and provide the proper environment for successful growth.
– Beefsteak Begonia Light Requirements
Your beefsteak begonia will thrive in bright, indirect light. Still, it will quickly scorch and wilt when exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time. You’ll have great success with placing your beefsteak begonia in a north-facing window. However, you should avoid placing it in east- or west-facing windows because the light amount will be too much.
Should take particular care during the summer to prevent it from getting too much light and heat.
– Proper Temperature
Like many subtropical plants, the beefsteak begonia prefers average indoor temperatures.
The plants won’t tolerate cold weather well and will wilt quickly if left outside in winter. Similarly, high temperatures will cause the plant leaves to scorch, often killing them.
Temperatures between 65 degrees and 85 degrees are ideal for growing beefsteak begonias.
How to Propagate Beefsteak Begonia
There are a couple of popular methods to reproduce your beefsteak begonia.
- Stem Cutting Method: Using a sharp, sterile knife, cut five to seven inches of a growing stem just below a leaf node. Slice off the lowest leaf and place the cutting in clean water. The cutting will begin developing roots in one to two weeks. This is one of the most common ways to propagate the plant and is how many people get one in the first place. Many people propagate using this method when trimming beefsteak begonia stems to keep the fast-growing plant under control.
- Rhizome Cutting: One of the easiest methods to reproduce this plant is to cut a rhizome and replant it. The rhizomes are like a subterranean stem that grows roots from nodes. The rhizome will also allow stem growth, so clip off a healthy rhizome with sharp, sterile shears. Then place it in clean potting soil appropriate for the beefsteak begonia.
- Leaf Cuttings: This is one of the more challenging ways to propagate a beefsteak begonia, but it can be done. Use a sharp, sterile knife to cut off a leaf and place it in water with a rooting hormone. In two weeks or so, you’ll see roots. Once the plant begins growing again and has a good amount of roots, you can transplant it to a pot with the appropriate soil type.
When and How to Repot a Beefsteak Begonia
You will know that it’s time for repotting beefsteak begonia into a larger pot when the roots fill the container, and there is no loose soil left. You can tell when this happens by gently lifting or tilting the plant. Another sign is when you see roots growing through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
Repotting beefsteak begonia is best done in spring or summer when the plant is growing well. Select a pot that is no more than a few inches larger than the existing pot. Beefsteak begonia plants prefer to have somewhat bound-up roots and will stress in too large of a pot. Gently remove the plant from its old pot and carefully loosen the roots. Place a few inches of soil in the bottom of the new pot, then set the begonia in and fill around the plant with potting soil. Water it well.
You probably won’t need to repot a beefsteak begonia more than every few years.
Beefsteak Begonia Problems and Solutions
In general, the beefsteak begonia is a hearty plant that will survive for many years.
Learning to spot problems quickly will ensure that you can keep your plant healthy and happy.
There are a few common problems you should look out for when caring for a beefsteak begonia.
- Beefsteak Begonia leaves curling: This is a sign of trouble for your beefsteak begonia. In most cases, it indicates the plant is underwatered, but it may also suggest that salts in the soil are excessively high. If the plant is watered regularly and the soil is moist, it’s likely the soil is not suitable for the plant. You should repot the plant with clean potting soil.
- Greyish leaves: Another classic sign of underwatering, your beefsteak begonias will develop a grey appearance. Caught quickly, all you’ll need to do is water regularly, and the color will return to your plant.
- Leaves wilting and turning yellow: Yellow, wilted leaves are often signs of overwatering. If the soil is soggy, your plant is overwatered. You’ll want to dry the soil out to save the plant. Look for rot on the rhizomes, as it’s expected when the plant is overwatered. Another reason for wilting leaves is incorrect lighting. Remember that these plants prefer bright, indirect light. Too much shade can cause wilting.
- Root rot: If your beefsteak begonia feels mushy, is turning yellow, and is wilting, you should inspect the roots for rot. If the rhizomes are squishy, look yellow and wet, or you see fuzz growing on roots, your plant is rotting. This condition is most often the result of overwatering and poor drainage. In some cases, you may be able to salvage rhizomes or stem cuttings from the plant, but the signs of root rot often appear too late to save the plant.
- Pests: Very few pests bother the beefsteak begonia, mainly when grown indoors. Aphids may set up shop in your beefsteak begonia. You can use a powerful spray of water to knock them off, treat the plant with a spray of water and a few drops of dish soap, or use a commercial insecticide.
- The beefsteak begonia gets its name because of its dark green and red foliage that looks like a cut of beef.
- It was once a popular indoor plant but has fallen out of favor in recent generations.
- Most people get cuttings of beefsteak begonia or inherit plants.
- You can save a dying beefsteak begonia: it is straight-forward and usually successful with this guide’s tips.
- The best soil for beefsteak begonia is slightly acidic, extremely well-draining soil, and regular watering.
- Bright, indirect light and average room temperature are ideal for growing this exciting classic.
- Beefsteak begonia benefits from efforts to provide humidity, including an evaporation tray or regularly misting the leaves.
- Propagation is done via stem cutting, leaf-cutting, or rhizome cutting. Beefsteak begonia do not produce seeds.
- Gardeners should wait for repotting beefsteak begonia until the main rhizome is coming out of the ground. All of the soil has been taken by roots.
- Most common problems like wilting or curling leaves are the results of incorrect watering or inadequate drainage. Pests are rarely an issue.
Suppose you have been gifted a beefsteak begonia or are thinking about taking a cutting from an old plant. In that case, you’ll be happy to know this species grows fast and is generally a healthy plant.
It makes a fantastic houseplant provided it’s kept out of direct sun. The thick, glossy leaves of green and burgundy are beautiful year-round, while clusters of fragrant pink to white flowers that bloom several times each year are often described as looking like candy.
You can grow this attractive vintage plant easily using this guide.