Begonia odorata is the answer to adding colors and foliage to your garden area!

Begonia odorata, which is native to tropical and subtropical regions, is a low-maintenance Begonia variety. It is grown in hanging baskets, pots, and ground for its pretty flowers and foliage.

Read from our care guide to know exactly how to grow Begonia odorata the right way.

What Is Begonia Odorata?

Begonia odorata, also called the Sweet Begonia, is an upright Begonia variety popular for its fragrant snow-white blossoms. It is a perennial belonging to the Begoniaceae family.

Apart from being grown in baskets, pots, Begonia odorata is also used as a bedding plant for partially shaded areas. It produces abundant flowers in both sun and partial shade.
There are three types of Begonia – fibrous, rhizomatous, and tuberous. Begonia odorata is fibrous and is well known for indoor use.

– Size and Growth

Begonia odorata can grow up to 18 inches in length. The average size of a Begonia odorata is 12 to 18 inches. It grows faster when compared to some other varieties of Begonia. However, it has a moderate growth rate. Once planted in a new pot, it can take around a month to show some new growth.

– Life Span

The begonia plant does not have a long life span. None of them lives longer than five years. Even with regular care, fibrous begonias like the Begonia odorata live up to three to four years.

– Leaves

The leaves of Begonia Odorata are large, glossy, and oval-shaped. The plant gets bushy over time as more bare and large leaves growing.

Begonia odorata develop long, bamboo-like stems that grow and take over the entire pot with vibrant flowers.

– Flowers

Begonia odorata is grown for its beautiful flowers and foliage. It looks stunning in hanging baskets with pink buds and white flowers. The flowers have a mild, sweet scent, which is also called the Sweet Begonia. The flowers grow up to two inches in diameter.

The flowers start blooming in summer and last until winter arrives. The flowers do not bloom in extreme winters. Begonia odorata produces plenty of flowers throughout the summer in both sunny and shaded areas. Deadheading of the blooms is not needed for this low-maintenance plant.

Begonia odorata does not produce any fruits and is free of thorns.

– Toxicity

All the Begonia varieties, including Begonia odorata, are mildly toxic to both humans and pets. The plant’s sap contains poisonous needle-shaped crystals. Ingesting it can cause burning sensation and vomiting. If your pet, by chance, eats any part of the plant, get in touch with your vet immediately.

Begonia Odorata Care

– Light Requirements

Begonia odorata thrives in both sunlight and bright indirect light. It grows in sunny spots, but harsh sunlight can burn its leaves. If your area receives harsh sunlight, shift your plant to a partially shaded area, especially during noon.

If you must choose between the two, pick a spot with partial shade receiving filtered sunlight for the optimum growth rate. Excessive sunlight can cause leaf burns and slow down the plant’s growth. If your plant is growing in full sunlight, make sure to water it regularly and mist it to maintain humidity.

– Water Requirements

Begonia odorata thrives when watered regularly. It can tolerate slight drought, but irregular watering can cause the leaves to drop — so water at regular intervals without leaving the soil dry for too long. Water the ones in sunnier positions more regularly than others.

Just like other Begonias, Begonia odorata also cannot stand overwatering for an extended period. Waterlogged soil can cause the roots and stems to rot.

To avoid overwatering, water only when the soil is dry down to one inch. Insert your finger in the earth till the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, add water. If it feels moist, wait for one or two days before watering again.

– Soil

Begonia Odorata grows well in neutral to slightly acidic loamy soil. It loves a moist and well-draining potting mix. However, do not let the water stand for too long as it leads to root rot.

To make your potting mix well-draining, add perlite/vermiculite and gravel for extra drainage to the regular gardening soil. Add sphagnum moss to retain moisture in the soil.
If you cannot get your hands on all of these, use any indoor potting mix. Just make sure that your potting mix has any one of the above ingredients.

– Temperature

The ideal temperature for the growth of Begonia odorata is from 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It grows in every season and can tolerate higher temperatures too if protected from direct sun.

Begonia odorata is tender and cannot tolerate frost. During winter, move the plant to a warmer spot, preferably inside the house, to protect the leaves from frost. Sudden changes in the temperature can cause the leaves to wilt.

Begonia odorata tends to grow well in higher temperatures compared to cold weather. Since it is frost-sensitive, it is not able to survive in extremely low temperatures.

– Humidity

Begonia odorata loves humidity. Even though it can tolerate slightly dry conditions around, we advise you to ensure that the humidity level is not too low. Maintain humidity by either placing a humidifier around the plant or using the pebble tray method.

Similarly, during cloudy and rainy days, keep the plant under the sun the next day to balance the humidity level.

Unlike the other Begonias, Begonia odorata is an easy-to-maintain plant because it is a fibrous Begonia. That is why humidity level is not a major concern for this one.

– Fertilizer Requirements

Begonia odorata is not a heavy fertilizer feeder because it does not require a lot of nutrients. Fertilize the plant once every month with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer; it helps encourage more flowers. 10-10-10 fertilizer works the best for Begonia odorata’s balanced growth.

Do not fertilize your plant with fertilizers that contain too much nitrogen. Excessive nitrogen due to overfertilization can destroy the plant. Keep at least a three weeks gap between the fertilization sessions.

If you do not want to buy a liquid fertilizer, use the organic banana peel fertilizer. Put a banana peel in an air-tight jar, fill it with water and keep it for 2-3 days. Then, water the plant with it weekly to see your plant producing flowers. Banana peel contains phosphorus and potassium, both of which help in encouraging abundant blooms.

– Pruning

Like repotting, prune the plants in the spring months as new growth starts to take in spring. Pruning at the right time will help your plant to produce more blooms.

To prune, take sharp scissors and trim the leggy stems of the plant by cutting at least four inches of the stems below the node. Also, remove the dead leaves and flowers from the plant, if any. Removing dead flowers allows the plant to produce new blooms.

Use the pruned stems to propagate your Begonia odorata.

How and When to Repot Begonia Odorata?

Begonia odorata is one such plant that loves to be root bound. Therefore, repot the plant only under the following two circumstances.

  1. When the plant has fully taken over the pot, it is time to repot. Check by taking the plant out of the pot, and if you see only roots and too little soil, it is time to repot the plant. If there is some soil falling, let the plant grow for some more time.
  2. When a smaller plant is potted in a large pot, its leaves may start to fall. This phenomenon is due to overnutrition. There is too much soil and nutrients for the plant. In this case, move it to a smaller pot.

When the Begonia odorata has taken over the existing pot, take a new pot one size bigger than the previous one. Shift the plant in the new pot in the evening. Repotting during the evening gives the plant ample time to recover from any damage done to the roots while repotting.

Now water the plant thoroughly such that it drains out of the bottom holes. Place your plant in a shaded spot and wait for the plant to adjust to its new environment.

Repot the plant during spring and summer, not in winter. Winter is not the best time to repot any tropical or subtropical plant because during winter, these plants are either in the dormancy stage or show very little growth.

Propagating Begonia Odorata

Begonia odorata propagation is easy if you keep in mind a few points. As opposed to a tap root system, Begonia odorata has a fibrous root system, so the cuttings do not rot in water.

First, find a mature plant with several leggy stems which need pruning. Now take at least a four inches long cutting to be propagated. Spot the node and use sharp gardening scissors to cut at a 45-degree angle below the node. Pruning the mother plant makes it bushier and healthier.

Pluck the lower leaves from the stem and leave only the top two to three leaves on. Remove everything else from the bottom so that your plant’s total energy goes towards forming roots.

Remember to change the water every three to four days. After a month or so, you will notice roots are developing. Let the roots grow and once they are approximately two inches long, plant the cutting in the potting mix. You can leave the cuttings in the water for longer too; they will survive.

After planting your Begonia odorata cuttings in the soil, water the pot thoroughly until water comes out of the drainage holes.

You should keep the newly potted plant in the shade for two to three days. Doing so allows it to recover from its shock while changing its environment from water to soil.
After it has recovered, place the pot in bright, not harsh sunlight and let it grow.

Begonia Odorata Problems

Begonia odorata is prone to pests, insects, and diseases like Rhizoctonia, powdery mildew, slugs, and spider mites.

– Powdery Mildew

A white or gray fungus is formed on the leaves of Begonia odorata when there is not enough air circulation and light. Leaves curl up, turn yellow, and ultimately fall off. The problem worsens when the nights are cold and days are warm and humid.

To prevent powdery mildew, place your plant outdoors so that it gets enough light and aeration. Use a fungicide spray to keep the fungus at bay.

– Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails thrive in a moist, humid environment and eat away anything that is not woody. If you notice holes in the leaves or striped stems, they are probably eaten by snails and slugs.

To get rid of these creatures, sprinkle some crumbled eggshells in your soil and around the plant. They will die because eggshells are rough to walk on. Keep the soil clean to eliminate any hiding spots.

– Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight or gray mold is a common fungal disease affecting all sorts of perennial and ornamental plants. It is called gray mold because it forms gray spores on the infected tissue. It can cause leaf blight, flower blight, fruit rot, and root rot.

Practice sanitation, monitoring, and include fungicides to control Botrytis blight. Remove weeds and plant debris regularly to prevent fungus growth. Keep enough space between plants to maintain air circulation and relative humidity.

– Rhizoctonia

Rhizoctonia is a soil-borne fungus that is present in most soils. It can cause the roots to rot, and it can cause the bottom leaves to wilt.

Avoid overwatering Begonia odorata to prevent Rhizoctonia. Keep the leaves and flowers dry to avoid fungus growth. If the plant is heavily infected, remove the plant, and if the plant is in a pot, throw away the soil.

– Spider Mites

Spider mites thrive in dry and hot conditions. If you notice small dots on the plant leaves and the leaves have started to turn yellow, it is probably infected by spider mites. With heavy infestations, Begonia odorata can die.

To control spider mite infestation, remove the infected plant. Pluck away all the weeds. Keep the air humid by watering the plant and misting it regularly. Keep the soil moist and watered as Begonia odorata likes humidity.

– Mealybugs

Mealybugs are white, wingless insects that suck the sap out of the plant tissue. They cause leaves to droop and turn yellow. They also produce honeydew which leads to black fungal growth.

To prevent mealybugs, avoid overfertilizing Begonia odorata. Mealybugs love nitrogen-rich soil. So, avoid unnecessary fertilization of the plant. If your plant is heavily infested with mealybugs, isolate the plant and consult your garden center before using an insecticide.

– Whiteflies

Like mealybugs, whiteflies also suck the sap of the plant tissue and produce honeydew. They are found below the plant leaves, sucking the plant’s nutrition which leads to stunted growth.

Spray an insecticide spray on the undersides of the leaves during the evening when the temperature is low. As a measure of prevention, avoid using chemical insecticides and inspect your plants daily.

– Pythium Root Rot

Pythium root rot or basal stem rot is caused by Pythium fungus, which thrives in excessive soil moisture. Pythium fungus spores are severe in poorly drained soils and are spread by contaminated soil, water, and tools.

To prevent Pythium fungus, avoid overwatering your plants and keep the plant leaves dry. Use a fungicide and apply it to the soil media to get rid of the fungus spores. In case of heavy infestation, you need to apply fungicide to eliminate the fungus repeatedly.


Begonia odorata is a perfect choice for anyone looking to add aesthetic value to their living room or garden. We hope you found our care guide helpful.

So let us sum it up with a few essential pointers:

  • Begonia odorata is an easy-to-grow plant, commonly grown as a bedding plant
  • It has large green leaves and fragrant white flowers
  • Bright indirect light and direct sunlight both work well for the plant’s growth
  • It is mildly toxic, keep away from kids and pets
  • Use a well-draining potting soil mixed with perlite for drainage
  • Water regularly to maintain moisture but avoid overwatering and keep the air circulating
  • Keep the pests, insects, and diseases at bay by maintaining appropriate moisture and light conditions

After reading our care guide, you have all the tips you need to grow the Begonia odorata without any difficulty. So go and get yours now!

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