Begonia maculata also known as polka dot begonia is a precious plant that has unique leaves. The white spots and the red undersides of the leaves are attributed to the naming of the Begonia maculata as the polka dot begonia. This spotted leaf plant is usually grown indoors.
In this article, you will learn expert tips and tricks on how to care for your Begonia maculata.
- What Is Begonia Maculata?
- Quick Overview
- How to Care for Begonia Maculata
What Is Begonia Maculata?
The Begonia maculata is a houseplant that has angel-wing-shaped leaves that are green on the upper surface with silvery-white dots. The undersides of Begonia maculata leaves are red in color. This unusual appearance of the leaves of the Begonia maculata plant can exert a unique touch that beautifies your house.
The Begonia maculata can grow up to four or five feet tall. Each leaf is approximately eight inches long and is asymmetric.
Begonia maculata blossoms between the months of spring and autumn, producing white flowers with yellow centers. The flowers appear at the top of the plant so they are visibly outstanding.
Begonia maculata is native to the tropical forests of Brazil, which explains why this plant likes warm climates.
Here is a handy table of this plant’s requirements.
|Light||Thrives well under bright, indirect light|
|Water||Water when the top 2 inches of topsoil is dry|
|Soil||Well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter|
|Humidity||High humidity levels that are above 45 percent|
|Temperature||Temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Fertilizer||Apply water-soluble fertilizer once or twice per month during the plant’s active period|
How to Care for Begonia Maculata
Begonia maculata requires minimum attention, but if you totally neglect it, the plant might die on you.
– Light Requirements
Like other houseplants, the Begonia maculata plant thrives well under bright, indirect light, although it requires more shade than other indoor plants. The Begonia maculata plant can become leggy and spindly when it is completely deprived of light. You can place your plant outside during the day, ideally under a partial shade for it to get enough light. Too much direct sunlight will scorch the leaves of your Begonia maculata.
If grown indoors, you should place your Begonia maculata near a window that provides enough light. You can move your pot from one window when the sun moves off to another where your plant can get more sunlight. Make sure you rotate your Begonia maculata so that there will be an even distribution of light for the whole plant.
If you feel that your plant is not getting enough sunlight, purchasing a grow light is a viable alternative. Your Begonia maculata should not be too close to the grow light, otherwise, its leaves will burn. A 75 watts grow light is ideal for the Begonia maculata plant. Simply follow the instructions on the manual of the grow light to find out how to use it.
– Water Requirements
Adequate water is needed for your Begonia maculata plant to grow healthy and have vibrant leaves. Consistently check soil moisture prior to watering by poking your finger into the topsoil or through the draining holes. If the top 2 inches of topsoil is dry, this is the right time to water your Begonia maculata thoroughly until the soil is saturated enough that the water comes out through the draining holes of the pot. Allow the soil to dry before the next watering to avoid having soggy soil.
Your Begonia maculata is susceptible to root rot, so you should avoid overwatering your plant. You can irrigate your Begonia maculata when it starts showing signs of wilting, which is a sign that the potting mix is totally dry. The leaves of your plant are also prone to leaf rot so you should water directly onto the soil. Do not use a spray bottle when watering so that you will avoid watering the leaves.
Watering Begonia maculata is easy and beneficial to your plant if you do it the right way. The size of the plant and its growth rate can determine when to water your Begonia maculata. If you were used to pouring five liters of water when your plant was still small, you cannot continue with the same amount when the plant reaches its maturity. A little extra water is not going to waterlog your Begonia maculata when it’s grown.
– Temperature Requirements
The Begonia maculata prefers a temperature that ranges from 60 F to 80 F. Temperatures that are above or below the recommended range can cause damage to your plant. The plant is not cold hardy so it will not survive very cold or freezing temperatures. Your Begonia maculata can tolerate very high temperatures if the direct sun is filtered with partially closed blinds.
– Humidity Requirements
Begonia maculata is a tropical plant that flourishes in environments with high humidity levels that are above 45 percent. As an indoor plant, it is difficult for the Begonia maculata plant to get the humidity that it requires, especially during winter. In such cases, provide a humidifier as an alternative for increasing the humidity levels.
You should have a hygrometer to test if the moist air in the house is good for your plant. The Begonia maculata can endure low humidity conditions. However, it might fail to flower and also experience leaf loss under such conditions.
Another strategy for improving humidity levels is creating pebble trays. Fill your pebble trays with water and place them under the pot of your plant. Make sure the pot does not sit directly in the water. The water vapor from the pebble tray will increase moisture in the air, thereby improving humidity levels.
The Begonia maculata grows happily in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. A well-draining substrate allows excess water to freely escape through the pot’s drain holes. You can add perlite, coarse sand and moss to improve the structure of the potting mix. A well-draining potting mix allows free air circulation that contributes to healthy root development.
The potting soil for your Begonia maculata should retain moisture for some time to achieve better results. This is another reason why organic matter is an important component of the potting soil for Begonia maculata.
Begonia maculata requires fertilizer for it to grow vigorously. Add water-soluble fertilizer once or twice per month during the plant’s active period, mostly during the months of summer and spring. Remember to dilute the fertilizer to half the strength of what is recommended by the producer’s manual. Do not over-fertilize your Begonia maculata to avoid burning them.
The Begonia maculata plant can bloom perfectly if fertilizers are applied more frequently. Fertilizers contain nutrients that boost the flowering process. You can use multi-purpose fertilizers with equal ratios like NPK 20-20-20 for this.
The growth of your Begonia maculata can be improved by pruning its unnecessary leaves. Cut off the dead and unhealthy leaves, flowers, dying stems and leggy canes. The equipment that you use for the pruning procedures should be clean, sharp and disinfected to reduce the risk of infecting your Begonia maculata. Your plant will grow beautiful new shoots after pruning, making it appear more beautiful.
Pruning the Begonia maculata plant makes it look tidy and bushy. Cut the tips of the Begonia maculata at least twice every year to stimulate a bushier growth that will give your plant a fuller shape. If you leave those tips when pruning, the Begonia maculata plant will continue to grow long until it becomes leggy and sparse. This is because the Begonia maculata will be focusing its resources on growing up instead of out.
Pruning will assist the plant to grow out, but remember to not stress your Begonia maculata by cutting its unwanted parts carelessly. Be sure to water your plant after the pruning procedures.
Begonia maculata needs to be repotted every year using a pot that is of the same size as its old one or slightly bigger. If the old pot is 4 inches big, then you can use a 6-inch one for repotting. The plant grows well in smaller pots as it likes being pot-bound. The Begonia maculata is a little different from other houseplants as it likes its roots to be packed together in a small pot.
When repotting Begonia maculata, make sure you have a new pot and potting mix. Be careful not to damage the roots when removing the plant from the old pot. Check the roots of your Begonia maculata plant before planting it in the new potting soil to see if there are rotten roots that you can trim. Use a potting mix that can drain water easily to avoid waterlogging your Begonia maculata.
You can also repot your Begonia maculata when the pot is tipping over. When your Begonia maculata plant becomes bulky, the pot can become too crowded that it will not be able to contain the weight of the plant. You should repot and transfer your plant to a bigger pot in such scenarios. Repotting the Begonia maculata plant should be done during summer when the plant is actively growing so that it will establish itself quickly.
Propagating the Begonia maculata can be done in many ways. Stem or leaf cuttings are better options as they have better success rates in relatively shorter periods of time.
– Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings are an easy way to multiply your Begonia maculata plant. Cut the stem just below the bud, making sure that the cutting should have at least two nodes and two leaves on it. The Begonia maculata should not be flowering when you take the cuttings from it. Make sure the plant is healthy and free from pests and diseases as this will increase the chances that the propagation endeavor will be successful.
You can dip your cutting into a rooting hormone to improve the probability of root development, although the Begonia maculata does not exhibit many problems with regard to root development.
Insert your stem cutting horizontally into a moistened potting mix, which should be the same as that of the mother plant in terms of composition and structure. Start providing proper care until the Begonia maculata has developed some roots.
Place your Begonia maculata stem cutting in a warm place with bright, indirect light. Keep the potting soil moist but not soggy. Expect the roots to develop within six to ten weeks, and once the roots have developed, miniature leaves will then start to grow. If you do not see any leaf development after 14 to 16 weeks, that’s a sign that the cutting has failed and you should consider starting again.
– Leaf Cuttings
Take the leaves of a mature Begonia maculata plant and cut them into a wedge-like shape. You should use a sharp, clean cutting tool and make sure that each piece has veins. Place your leaves in a container that is half-filled with perlite, peat moss and vermiculite and cover it with a plastic bag. You should remember to put your Begonia maculata leaf-cutting in a warm place that has bright, indirect light.
You should see new leaves growing after four or six weeks from the day you plant the Begonia maculata leaf cutting. Once you see the leaves growing, you can apply the recommended amount of liquid fertilizer for Begonia maculata plants to your baby plant and start to care for it like the mother plant.
You cannot get the exact replica of the mother plant if you propagate Begonia maculata using seeds. You will only get a new, good variety so if you want something similar to the mother plant, use leaf or stem cuttings.
Like any other plant, the Begonia maculata can also be affected by pests and diseases. Don’t be afraid if your Begonia maculata is affected, but you need to take action as soon as possible for your plant to keep growing well.
– Brown and Crispy Leaf Tips
Begonia maculata leaves can become brown and crispy if the plant lacks moisture. Make sure you water your plant regularly but check its moisture content first. If one or two inches of the topsoil is dry, this is the best time to water again. Do not allow the Begonia maculata soil to remain dry for extended periods of time without watering the plant.
The Begonia maculata can have brown, crispy leaf tips if there is also dry air in the house. You should use a humidifier to improve the humidity levels for your plant to look healthy.
– Yellow Leaves
Yellow leaves can be a result of overwatering your Begonia maculata plant. When the plant is waterlogged, air circulation is limited. Such conditions can cause your Begonia maculata to suffocate. You should know when to water the Begonia maculata plant as explained earlier in the watering requirements section.
– Tall and Leggy Stems
Begonia maculata can develop tall, leggy stems due to lack of sunlight. Your plant will be trying to reach out for sunlight and grow leggy in the process. Do not place your plant in dark spots for too long, and make sure they get enough indirect sun that is bright.
You can prune the tall, leggy stems of the Begonia maculata and put the plant in a place where it can get the required conditions for it to grow new, healthy stems.
Overcrowding Begonia maculata plants can also cause them to have tall and leggy stems. They will be competing for sunlight, water and nutrients, so their stems will become weak and find it difficult to bloom. You should have one plant in each pot and always maintain a reasonable distance between them.
– Powdery Mildew
This fungal infection is caused by overwatering and high humidity. Allow air circulation in the room so that any water droplets on the leaves can dry quickly. Also, consider using a fan to circulate air in the room if natural air is not enough.
If you see white powdery circular spots on the Begonia maculata foliage, know that your plant has been infected with Powdery Mildew. You can remove the affected area before it spreads to other parts of the plant. Alternatively, you can use fungicides to control the infection. Sometimes, the fungicides may not work well, so the best thing to do is to prevent the disease by following proper watering methods and schedules.
Botrytis is also a fungal infection and you can use fungicides to control this disease. This disease causes soggy, brown splotches on the lower leaves of your Begonia maculata. You should remove fallen flowers and leaves on the potting soil to protect your plant from botrytis.
Pruning the affected foliage is a great idea, and you can also sterilize the Begonia maculata using denatured alcohol.
– Bacterial Leaf Spot
You can easily identify that the Begonia maculata is affected by Bacterial Leaf Spot if you see spots that are pimple-like on the plant. You can prune the affected area but if your plant is heavily infected, just uproot the whole plant and destroy it. Don’t forget to disinfect the area where the plant was so that the disease does not spread to other plants.
– Stem and Pythium Root Rot
Grow your Begonia maculata plant in a well-draining potting mix to avoid soggy soils. You should also know the best time to water your plant so that you reduce the risk of overwatering. The stem of the Begonia maculata turns black and the roots become yellow when it has been affected by Stem and Pythium Root Rot.
You can trim the affected roots and plant your Begonia maculata in a new potting mix. If the roots are badly damaged but the stem is still healthy, cut the stem and use it to propagate a new plant. We recommend that you discard the affected plant if it is already seriously infected.
– Aphids and Thrips
These are sap-sucking pests that are too tiny that you cannot easily identify them until the damage they have caused becomes visible. They use their hollow mouthparts to suck the sap and chlorophyll out of your plant. Begonia maculata thrives well in warm climatic conditions, which favor the survival of aphids and thrips as well. Thrips can be easily carried by wind and that’s how they spread from one plant to another.
You can control aphids and thrips by introducing green lacewing larvae in your garden. These bugs feed on thrips and aphids. Each larva can feed on about 600 aphids or thrips within a minimum period of two weeks, and the female lacewing is capable of laying as many eggs in a short period of time.
You can spray water on your Begonia maculata plant using a garden hose as a way of destroying the pests. You should do the spraying early in the morning so that the bugs will not fly as the water will be a little bit cold. Make sure you spray on the undersides of the Begonia maculata plant leaves because that’s where the pests hide. You can also use insecticidal soap and Neem oil to control thrips and aphids.
– Mealybugs and Whiteflies
Mealybugs and whiteflies also suck sap from the leaves of Begonia maculata. You can control these pests the same way you do for aphids and thrips, by using Neem oil and insecticidal soap. The Begonia maculata is an indoor plant, so Neem oil is good as it does not contain chemicals that are harmful to human beings. Ladybugs can also get rid of mealybugs and whiteflies by feeding on these pests.
Begonia maculata is toxic to human beings and pets if ingested. Therefore, you are advised to place your Begonia maculata out of reach of children and pets.
Now you have gathered the required information to properly care for your Begonia maculata plant. Below is a short summary of the tips that you should know for your caregiving journey to be successful:
- Begonia maculata is a fast-growing houseplant that is green with white-silvery spots on the upper side of the leaf and has a red coloration on the underside.
- The plant thrives in warm climatic conditions, with temperatures ranging from 60 F to 80 F.
- The Begonia maculata grows well in potting mixes that drain water quickly but also retain moisture for reasonable periods of time.
- Fertilizer is needed for the Begonia maculata plant to grow healthy and also for it to blossom.
- The Begonia maculata should be repotted yearly.
- Stem and leaf cuttings are used to propagate the Begonia maculata.
- Pests and diseases like thrips, aphids and root rot can affect the Begonia maculata.
- The Begonia maculata is dangerous to human beings and pets if swallowed.
You need to follow the tips in this article so that you can successfully grow your Begonia maculata. Get your cutting today and grow this eye-catching plant!
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