Begonia Masoniana Care Infographic
Begonia Masoniana Care Infographic

Begonia masoniana is a notoriously difficult plant to lay your hands on. Nonetheless, it needs only the bare minimum effort and energy on your part to grow and show off its unique foliage.

In this guide, we want you to learn all that there is to know about growing this amazing plant at home, so keep reading.

What Is Begonia Masoniana?

Begonia masoniana is a collectors-edition rare plant famous for its spectacular foliage. It has asymmetric leaves that are leathery in texture and appear to have bristles when you touch them. The most unique feature is the brown-colored cross present in the middle of apple green leaves.

Begonia Masoniana Care

Care for Begonia masoniana plants by keeling under indirect or partial bright light, watering with acidic rainwater, using soil rich in organic matter, and providing the high temperature and humidity levels. You can read all the details in the upcoming sections.

– Water Requirements 

Water regularly when the topsoil becomes dry, preferably using rainwater. Want to learn more about watering Begonias? Carry on ahead.

– Watering Schedule

Iron Cross Begonia Begonia MasonianaWater once a week during the hot summer months but decrease the frequency of watering in the winters. Overwatering should especially be avoided during the winter dormancy period.

Water the Begonia masoniana plant when its topsoil becomes dry. The rhizomes of this plant have the ability to store water for short periods of time.

An occasional lapse in the watering regime and dry soil is not only well-tolerated but also encouraged.

– The Best Type of Water for Begonia Masoniana

Rainwater is the best for the Begonia masoniana plant. It is slightly acidic which is just what this plant needs. Make a habit of collecting your rainwater and storing it safely for use.

During winters, warm the water to a slightly lukewarm temperature before watering. The second best option is to use distilled water. This water is free of all types of minerals, salts, and toxins. It is a bit expensive on the pocket, though.

– Some Important Tips Regarding Watering 

  • Water the Begonia masoniana plant only at the base of the plant and never on the stems and leaves. This water takes ages to evaporate and is a major cause of fungal and bacterial diseases.
  • Use very little water during the cold winter months.
  • Never use sprinklers or sprays to water this plant. It is highly susceptible to developing root rot and other fungal infections.
  • Even though rainwater is healthy for this plant, don’t let it stand under the rain for too long.

– Light Requirements 

The Begonia masoniana plant needs sunlight whether it is bright, indirect sunlight, or a moderate amount of direct light. Read all the details below.

– How To Provide the Optimum Lights for Begonia?

In order to provide the most optimum lights for the Begonia masoniana plant, keep it indoors in a brightly lit room, preferably near a window. In fact, you can safely place this plant in direct sunlight coming from the eastern or the western side of the house. Such moderate exposure to light of mild intensity is essential for its leaves.

We suggest keeping them in the shade of a larger tree or plant if you are keeping this plant outdoors in a garden or a yard. Keep in mind that putting this plant out in the sun for long hours will lead to severe sunburn and should be avoided at all costs.

– How To Grow Begonia Under Artificial Light?

If your indoor living space isn’t lit well enough, then you must go for artificial grow lights which need to be kept on for at least 10 to 12 hours per day. These lights come in two types: the traditional fluorescent lights and the more modern LED lights.

Fluorescent lights provide more energy for the plant to carry out photosynthesis. But they are very expensive to buy, install and run throughout the day. 

LED lights are much cheaper but they don’t provide light of the same intensity as fluorescent lights. Simply do the cleverer thing and use a mixture of both lights for your Begonia plant.

– Soil Requirements 

The soil for this plant needs to be rich in organic composition but also loose enough to let water and air pass through easily. Find out all the details below.

– When Growing Begonia Indoors

When growing Begonia indoors, we suggest you opt for a potting medium without soil in it. This plant needs high organic content so simply use peat moss or sphagnum moss with perlite or vermiculite in it.

These ingredients are necessary for improving the airiness of the medium. They improve air circulation as well as provide space for the rhizomes to grow unimpeded. Bark and wood shavings can also be added for this effect.

– When Growing Begonia Outdoors

When growing Begonia masoniana outdoors, you can create a potting medium using half part ordinary garden soil with half part organic matter like peat moss, mulching material, hummus, etc. These ingredients create a very nutrient-rich soil mix.

In order to loosen the soil and improve its air circulation, you must then also add vermiculite, bark pieces, wood clippings, shavings, etc. Otherwise, the soil and the organic materials will form a compact clump that will lead to waterlogging and fungal diseases.

– Temperature Requirements

Temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit are suitable for this plant. This is a relatively wide range of temperatures meaning this plant can survive occasional drops in temperature.

However, it is not frost-hardy at all and if your area experiences harsh winters then it is wise to move Begonia masoniana indoors during that time. Even while indoors, take care not to leave them besides an open window at night or they will suffer from cold shock and begin to die.

– Humidity 

Maintain at least 50 percent humidity around this plant at all times. Dry air will turn the edges of its beautiful leaves brown and crisp. Here are a few tips regarding maintaining humidity around the Begonia masoniana plant.

  • Don’t mist this plant in order to improve the humidity around it. This is because it is highly susceptible to developing fungal infections, particularly powdery mildew.
  • You can use a humidifier. It is a most useful gadget when it comes to keeping rare plants with specific needs at home. Just be ready for the high electricity bills due to their constant use.
  • If you have other plants, move them all close together. This also improves humidity around all of them. But take care that air circulation is not compromised.
  • Your kitchen and bathroom are the most humid rooms in your house. This plant will grow better if kept there.

– Grooming

Simply cut off or remove old or dead leaves from the plant. Regularly clean the plant using a soft bristle brush. Make sure that the abundant foliage isn’t blocking airflow through the plant. Also, keep a frequent check under the leaves or below stem sheaths to discover any potential bugs that might be hiding there.

– Fertilizer

Fertilize the mature Begonia masoniana plant regularly. It needs all the essential nutrients it can get in order to grow that gorgeous foliage. Learn some important facts about fertilizing this plant below.

You can use an organic fertilizer like compost and add it directly to your soil whenever you repot the plant. Commercial fertilizer is better in our opinion because it allows you the liberty of choosing what nutrients to give your plant and in what quantity.

Choose a well-balanced chemical fertilizer like the one with an NPK value of 20 20 20. You can also use a liquid fertilizer. In any case, don’t forget to dilute the fertilizer before use.

Stop feeding the plant during winter dormancy months. This will only cause root burn in most cases.

– Repotting

Repot Begonia masoniana in spring as this is the time when the growth of this plant is at its peak. One big indication for repotting is when roots start to come out of the drainage hole of the pot.

Propagation

You can propagate Begonia masoniana using both stem cuttings and underground rhizomes at the beginning of spring. Here is a step-by-step guide for your information.

– Using Stem Cuttings

You can use stem cuttings for propagating the Begonia masoniana plant. Always use a sterilized knife or gardening shears for taking these cuttings. Each cutting should be at least three to four inches long and have two to three leaf nodes in it.

Fill a medium-sized pot and fill it with coarse soil. Then insert the cutting vertically into this soil in such a way that at least one leaf node is under the soil.

Place this pot in a very warm place where there is plenty of indirect light whether natural or artificial. You can also wrap the pot in a transparent plastic sheet initially to increase its humidity.

Take great care of your plant in the beginning. In a couple of weeks, new shoots will begin to emerge. 

– Using Rhizome Cuttings

Rhizomes are often confused for being roots but are, intact, underground stems common to some plants. If you have decided to use rhizomes for propagation, then you need to take the plant out of its soil for getting them.

Be very careful when uprooting the plant not to damage its roots, one good practice is to moisten the soil with copious water 24 hours beforehand. Once you have taken the plant out, shake loose the soil from the roots and the rhizomes to examine them properly.

Identify the stem-like rhizomes and untangle them from one another. Each rhizome will have its own aerial stem and leaves attached to it.

Take a sterilized knife and gently separate the rhizomes from each other. Allow some time for the rhizomes to dry out. Then place each of them in a new pot in freshly mixed soil. In a couple of weeks, new shoots will begin to show themselves which is an indication that the plant has successfully established its roots.

– Using Leaf Cuttings

Remove a couple of leaves from the Begonia masoniana plant each with at least one inch long petioles still attached to it. Take a shallow tray and then evenly fill it with a nutrient medium that is composed of fifty percent peat and fifty percent perlite.

Make holes in the medium and then insert the petioles in them such that the leaves stay flat on top of the soil. The leaves must stay attached to the soil all the time, moreover, sometimes you might need to even pin them down forcibly.

Maintain very high temperatures around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. New plantlets will begin to grow in two months. When these become three inches long, you can take them out and plant them in their individual pots.

– When To Propagate

The best time to propagate the Begonia masoniana plant is the early springtime. The good thing about this plant, however, is that it can propagate successfully at any time of the year provided you keep it under warm temperatures at any time of the year.

Begonia masoniana growth rate is pretty fast. It produces new leaves and stems almost every month.

Problems

This is quite an unproblematic plant, the only problems it might face are powdery mildew infection, pest attack, or sunburn. Learn how best to deal with these problems below.

– Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal infection common to the Begonia masoniana plant. Although it is not in itself a particularly fatal disease, it does affect your plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis. Eventually, the plant begins to weaken and loses its exotic charm.

Small-sized white dots will appear on the upper surfaces of the leaves. These will then grow and merge together. Eventually, the whole plant will appear as if it has dust sprinkled all over it.

– Causes: What Might Be Causing It

Overwatering is almost always the foremost reason behind any fungal infection. Never water unless the topsoil becomes dry. Also, refrain from watering the leaves of the plant.

Inadequate drainage of the pot or the soil is the second most common reason. Thirdly, the use of unsterilized gardening tools has been known to spread mildew infection from one plant to the next as well. 

– Treatment: How To Get Rid of It

Make a DIY solution by mixing one part milk with three-part water and spraying it on the diseased plant every day. Another home remedy is to add a teaspoon of baking soda to a gallon of water and wash the affected plant with it every day.

Fungicides are the best and most reliable option that you have. But they too need to be continuously sprayed on the plant for several weeks.

– Pests

Aphids and mealybugs are the most common pests that attack indoor plants such as Begonias. 

– Signs and Symptoms 

  • Discoloration and yellowing of leaves is the most common sign of a pest attack.
  • The appearance of yellow, brown, or white-colored spots on the leaves is another sign.
  • A sticky substance called honeydew is secreted by these insects and can be felt on the upper surface of the leaves.
  • Sometimes, you can see proper puncture marks on the affected leaves.

– Treating Pests

Physically remove as many pests as you can using a water jet or a cotton roll. Use organic remedies such as neem oil, alcohol mixed with water, etc to get rid of these pests. Store-bought chemical insecticide sprays are also very effective.

– Sunburn

The Begonia masoniana plant cannot tolerate direct sunlight. This is especially true of the harsh mid-afternoon sunlight. Their glorious foliage will turn yellow, brown, and wrinkly. 

If your plant has already suffered a sunburn, there is nothing you can do about the burnt leaves except prune them off. Simply move the plant to a shaded location. Eventually, new leaves will grow that will be healthier.

Conclusion

Begonia masoniana notoriously difficult plantRead the summary of this entire guide below.

  • Begonia masoniana is a rare plant that is thought to have originated from India or China. It grows under bright indirect light. You can also keep it under partial light of low intensity such as an eastern window.
  • Water only when the top one or two-inch of the soil becomes dry. Rainwater has just the right amount of acidity that this plant needs.
  • 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit is the best range for keeping this plant under. Don’t let the temperature fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • This plant is a heavy feeder. During the growing months from spring till fall, regularly fertilize with a liquid fertilizer after diluting it to half the strength. Propagate this plant using either stem cuttings or underground rhizomes.
  • Overwatering will cause your plant to develop powdery mildew infection. Equally important is the fact that the soil should be adequately well-draining.

Begonia masoniana is a plant that will gift your house with its radiant foliage with only a little love and effort from your side. Don’t overwater or expose them to direct intense sunlight and you will be good to go.

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