Begonia Nelumbiifolia is one of the most unique species of this genus. It produces gorgeous leaves and flowers but falls in the herb category.
Even if you have never cared for a begonia before, this is super easy to grow yourself. Our guide contains key secrets about how to grow and propagate this begonia and how to deal with its problems.
- What Is a Begonia Nelumbiifolia?
- Begonia Nelumbiifolia Care
What Is a Begonia Nelumbiifolia?
Begonia Nelumbiifolia is an herbaceous plant from the South Americas. It has long stems upon which large green-colored leaves grow. This, combined with the plant’s large size, gives Nelumbiifolia a very bushy appearance. As for its flowers, they are pure white.
Begonia Nelumbiifolia Care
The care guide for Nelumbiifolia requires only a few minutes of care every other day. Be vigilant about watering this plant every time the top two inches of the soil dry up and give it plenty of indirect sunlight.
– Water Requirements
Nelumbiifolia is a plant that needs water regularly, yet it is easily overwatered. The watering needs tend to vary from season to season, which can also get confusing for first-time begonia owners. Keep our golden rule in mind: water only when the soil’s top two inches become completely dry.
How can you be sure that the top two inches of the soil have been dried out? One way is by sticking your finger in the soil substrate up to the knuckle and feeling how dry the soil is.
The second is using a pointed object like a pencil or a kebab skewer and putting it in the soil two inches deep. Then take it out and judge how dry the soil is based on how dry the skewer is.
It is okay to use tap water for a Begonia occasionally. In the long-term, however, you must use either distilled or filtered water. This is our secret little tip to keep our plants healthy and to thrive.
A very important aspect of water is proper soil and container drainage. Regularly inspect the condition of your soil and the container’s drainage holes so that waterlogging can be detected early on.
When you water, you need to keep pouring until the time when water starts flowing out of the drainage holes. This helps ensure that all of your soil from top to bottom has been watered thoroughly. Promptly remove the water that then collects in the collection tray underneath.
– Light Requirements
As a tropical plant, the begonia likes only partial or indirect light because direct UV light can cause its leaves to burn. Ensure you find a spot in the yard that filters out light for them.
This could be in the form of a tree or an umbrella under the shade. Somewhere your plant can grow comfortably.
Inside the house, you need to place Nelumbiifolia as close to the windows as possible. The windows towards the east and the west receive direct light for a few hours, but the plant tolerates this. This plant will grow far away from windows, provided the room is lit well enough for them to photosynthesize.
However, the window to the south receives the most intense light all day long. When growing this plant near the south side window, you must use a sheer curtain all day. That or you can move the plant three feet away from such a window.
What if you live someplace with little to no access to natural light? You can still grow a begonia at home by using artificial grow lights for plants. In our experience, fluorescent grow lights are more effective but tend to be more expensive and produce a very high electricity bill.
Therefore, it is better to go for the more economical option and use LED grow lights for this plant. However, you will have to keep them on for longer to have the same effect as fluorescents and natural light.
– Soil Requirements
To grow Nelumbiifolia, do not ever use ordinary gardening soil. Instead, mix your potting with equal quantities of peat and perlite. Mix them both well with each other and add in a few chunks of bark to create slightly larger spaces within the soil.
You can add vermiculite instead of perlite easily because both work the same way. Make sure the peat you get is fresh and from an authentic source. The pH of the soil needs to be slightly acidic for proper root development. Adding organic matter such as mulch, compost, or manure helps decrease the pH.
The organic content in the soil will break up over the course of approximately two years. This is the time after which you should ideally repot the plant in fresh soil. You can help curb the disappearance of the substrate by lining the bottom of the pot with filter paper or adding gravel.
– Temperature Requirements
This plant likes 71 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures during daytime and around 60 degrees during nighttime. If you grow it outdoors, it will have little to no trouble at all in the spring and summer months.
At the beginning of fall, you will have to transport your plant inside the house to protect it from the cold.
If exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees for even a few hours, this plant will exhibit signs of cold shock such as leaf dropping and drooping.
There are some precautions you need to take indoors as well. These include keeping the windows closed at night during wintertime. In the summer, ensure that your Nelumbiifolia is not receiving cold air drafts from anywhere.
– Humidity Requirements
This is the toughest care requirement. This plant needs about 60 to 70 percent humidity for its well-being. Naturally, it will not be present in your house alone. Luckily, we have humidity-raising tricks up our sleeves.
First, you can start misting your plant every other day or every third day. Mist the leaves from a reasonable distance and only use a light shower. Ensure the air circulation around the plant is adequate because misting often precludes powdery mildew. Do it early in the day so the water has time to evaporate.
A humidity tray is a better option for the lazy plant owners among you. All you need to do is place a container full of water next to the pot of this Begonia. The evaporating water from this tray will increase humidity in the air flowing around the plant.
Lastly, a humidifier is a great option because not only is it convenient, but it also provides the same levels of humidity that your plant needs. Although it is more expensive, a humidifier with a auto-shut down feature is preferable. It turns off once the desired humidity level is reached.
– Fertilizing Requirement
Fertilize your begonia every second to the third week from spring till late summer. You will see a marked improvement in the plant’s growth.
It is best to use a liquid fertilizer and dilute it to one-third of its manufactured concentration. Your fertilizer should have an NPK value of 10:10:10 to give the plant balanced nutrition.
During wintertime, it is safer to discontinue feeding. Your plant does not need it as it is safer this way.
Pruning is known as stem cut back and should be carried out between spring and early summer. The plant is going through active growth and will quickly grow more stems from the cut.
The stems of Begonia nelumbiifolia are not too thick and can easily be cut using secateurs. You can also use gardening shears or knives if you feel comfortable with these. Don’t forget to wipe alcohol over the blade of the instrument and then wash it after use.
Pruning stems in one clean motion at a precise angle of 45 degrees promotes further growth. During pruning, you can trim the ends of old branches and remove those stems and leaves that have grown old or discolored.
Propagation is an exciting way of increasing your Begonia population without spending money. Find out three equally successful methods given below and choose one that suits you the best.
– Leaf Cutting
Leaf-cutting propagation is our favorite method because of how easy it is. Try it out for yourself to see how simple it can be.
- First, prepare a suitable organic potting mix to plant your leaf cutting.
- It can either be sphagnum moss or organic compost that is moistened adequately with water.
- Next, it is time to take a leaf cutting for propagation. For best results, choose a leaf near the base of the stem and cut it along with its petiole.
- Using the cutting edge of a sharp gardening knife, make a few slashes on the underside of the said leaf. At least one of these slashes should run through a major vein of the leaf.
- Place your leaf sideways on the surface of the potting mix. The slashed underside of the leaf should constantly be in contact with the mix. You can pin the leaf to stay in place, but you should not bury it in the mix.
- Put the container in the kitchen or bathroom where humidity is higher than in the rest of the rooms. Keep watering the potting mix to stay evenly moist but still not runny with water.
- In a few weeks, multiple new plantlets will develop from the cuts you made on the leaf.
– Stem Cutting
Stem cutting propagation is just as easy as leaf propagation. The good thing is that you can carry it out in the water and see the development of roots for yourself.
- Select a cutting tool you want to use and then disinfect it using 70 percent alcohol.
- Take your cutting from anywhere within the plant. We prefer cutting the growing ends of the stems because this is usually the most convenient.
- The ideal cutting should measure about 5 to 6 inches in length. It needs at least two leaf nodes from where fresh roots will develop.
- The next step is optional but helps a lot with getting a successful propagation. Let your cutting form calluses at their cut end, and then put some rooting hormone on it.
- Take any transparent jar or plastic container and put your cutting in it. Then fill it with water, put a lid on it and place it under indirect light.
- You will see how new roots will begin to grow in just one to two weeks. Keep replacing the water every fifth to sixth day with fresh water.
- Give some time so that the roots become 3 to 4 inches long. This is the best time to plant the rooted cutting in the soil.
- Give your plant plenty of attention in the first few weeks of its life and see how it flourishes.
– Air Layering
Air layering is an advanced propagation technique for those who like trying innovative new things. It does take a bit more preparation than the rest of the methods, though.
- Choose a healthy stem that is thicker than all the rest. Two inches away from a leaf node on this stem, make a shallow cut that does not cut through. This cut should be 2 to 3 inches long at the very least.
- Now, you don’t want this incision to heal up. Insert something in it, such as a toothpick or a piece of plastic, to keep the wound open.
- Thoroughly soak a significant amount of sphagnum moss in water, and then use it to cover the incision you made earlier.
- Finally, wrap a foil around the stem and secure it using strings.
- Every two weeks, unwrap the whole assembly and remoisten the moss. Check up on the progress of new roots growing from the cut.
- After three to four weeks, the new roots growing from the cutting should be at least three inches long. You need to cut that piece of stem and then transplant it into properly prepared soil.
Begonia suffers from the same problems that most houseplants do. That is why you must learn how to deal with powdery mildew, pests, and yellowing leaves.
– Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that attacks theh begonia kept in high humidity conditions. It begins with the development of numerous white spots on the leaves and stems. Later, the leaves get covered by a layer of superficial grey mold.
Even though it is not fatal, you should not take mildew lightly. It affects the food production and the growth of the plant.
All the new leaves and flower buds that form will be blackened and rotten. The white spots on the plant look really ugly as well.
The good news is that mildew can be treated by applying a few drops of neem oil to the leaves. One hundred percent natural neem oil is a bit difficult to obtain, but you can find some in your nearest herbal shop. Neem oil has strong anti-fungal properties and will not harm your plant.
Begonia is very susceptible to getting infested by aphids. You might not be able to see them crawling over the plant, but there are some tell-tale signs of an aphid infestation. These include yellow spots forming on the leaves along with stunted plant growth.
Take your pot to a sink and run water through it from top to bottom. Use a few drops of insecticidal soap along with water too. Most of the mature aphids will fall off by this process alone. The soap will kill the larvae and the eggs.
After your plant has been washed and dried, you can apply neem oil on it using a Q-tip. Neem oil is just as effective against insects as it is against fungus. Another natural thing you can use is vinegar mixed with water. We find that it, too, kills insects and their eggs in just one to two applications.
Mealybugs, like aphids, also puncture the plant and feed on its sap supply. The result is a plant with wilting and yellowing leaves. Mealybugs also attract mold to the upper surface of the leaves.
Luckily, mealybugs are easy to spot and pick off the plant by hand. It might take some time and effort, but this is the best method in our experience. If you are short on time and lazy like us, you can also wash the plant instead. Again, use a good insecticidal soap to do this.
Mix one tablespoon of baking soda in approximately one gallon of water. Pour one to two teaspoons of dishwashing soap as well for extra effect. Use this mixture as an insecticidal spray every week for the next two months to completely eradicate the infestation.
– Yellow Leaves
If leaves have turned yellow without apparent signs of pest infestations, your watering habits could be an issue. Both under and overwatering will cause your plant to lose its vibrant green coloring and become yellow instead. So, how can you tell the two apart?
Look at the overall state of your leaves and soil. If the leaves look swollen and feel mushy when held, this is a case of overwatering. The soil will also make feet wet or runny and the container heavier than usual. All you have to do is to improve your watering schedule from now on.
If the leaves look wrinkled and feel dehydrated on touch, then your Begonia is suffering from underwatering. The soil will also be dry to the bone downwards. Instead of water from the top, try bottom watering the plant to improve its condition. This plant cannot tolerate being neglected in the water department for long.
Your Begonia likes bright light, albeit indirectly or diffusely. However, if you have kept it in any far-off corner of the room with adequate light, it will grow leggy.
You will notice that your Begonia has begun to produce fewer leaves that are smaller and lighter in color.
The stems will start growing and stretching in the direction of any available light source.
All you have to do is to move your plant to a brighter location. Do not expose it to direct light but moving closer to the windows should do the trick. If your house lacks natural light, order an artificial grow light from any reliable online store.
Congratulations on making it to the end of this comprehensive Nelumbiifolia care guide.
Here are some of the basic take-home points.
- Like all Begonias, this one too likes to grow under bright partial or indirect light.
- The drainage of your peat-perlite potting mixture needs to be top-notch. Otherwise, there is a risk of waterlogging followed by root rot.
- If you prune the growing ends of this plant every spring, it will grow faster and better than before.
- This plant likes 71 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures during daytime and around 60 degrees during nighttime.
Begonia Nelumbiifolia, though usually rare, can easily be procured all across the country these days. We strongly urge you to order one for yourself as you don’t want to miss out on this gorgeous variety.
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