Plant care

I provide detailed cultivation information to ensure that these plants get the care they need in their new homes.

Begonias live in a wide variety of growing conditions, which makes them more interesting and fun to cultivate. The information below will help you grow your own plants and optimize the medium, the light, and the fertilizer to use for every species.

Begonia species information

SpeciesOriginLightHumidityWateringSoilPropagation
BlanciiPhilippines Island of PalawanLow / medium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse. 65%. Good air flow. Keep humid.
Resilient to overwatering.
Epiphytic. Well-draining soil mix or moss only.Stem or leaf cuttings.
Easy.
CaroliniifoliaCentral AmericaMedium to bright indirect.House conditions. Let substrate dry out slightly. Well-draining soil mix. Rhizomes or tubers division.
Leaf and stem cuttings.
ChloroneuraPhilippinesLow / medium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse. 55%. Good air flow.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils. Well-aerated soil mixRhizomes sections. division.
Leaf and stem cuttings.
Chlorosticta*Central SarawakLow / medium indirect.Terrarium with air flow. 85%. Good air flow.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Very well-draining soil with lots of perlite or moss only.Stem cuttings. Leaf prop not easy.
CleopatraePhilippines Island of PalawanLow / medium indirect.House conditions. 55%.
Terrarium or greenhouse.
Let substrate dry out slightly.
Resilient to dryness.
Clay pot. Well-draining soil mix.Leaf and stem cuttings.
Easy.
CrispulaBrazilLow / medium indirect.Terrarium with air flow. 65%Keep humid. Well-draining soil mix. Prevent leaves from touching the soil.Rhizomes sections.
Leaf cuttings.
Curtisii*Southern ThailandMedium indirect.Terrarium, no air flow. 85%Do not overwater. Keep humid.Extremely well-draining soil mix.Tubers division. Stem and leaf cuttings.
Darthvaderiana*BorneoLow indirect light.Terrarium, no air flow. 90%Do not overwater. Keep humid.Extremely well-draining soil mix or perlite/moss only.Stem cuttings. Leaf cuttings is hard.
DracopeltaWest Kalimantan and southern SarawakMedium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse with air flow. 75%. Do not overwater. Keep humid.Well-draining soil mix or perlite only.Stem cuttings. Leaf cuttings is hard.
FeroxSouthwestern ChinaMedium-bright indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse with air flow. 70%.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Well-draining soil mix.Rhizomes sections.
Leaf cuttings. Easy.
Goegoensis*SumatraLow / medium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse with air flow. 70%.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Very well-draining soil with lots of perlite or moss only.Rhizomes sections.
Leaf cuttings is hard.
Henryii HemslChina and VietnamMedium / bright indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse with air flow. 70%.Keep drier than other species.Well-draining soil mix.Tubers division.
Maculata wightiiSouth AmericaMedium / bright indirect.House conditions. Greenhouse with air flow.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Well-draining soil mix.Stem cuttings only.
Malachosticta*BorneoLow / medium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse with air flow. 80%.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Very well-draining soil with lots of perlite or moss only.Stem cuttings. Leaf cuttings is hard.
Ningmingensis var. VietnamVietnamLow / medium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse with air flow. 70%.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Rhizomes sections.
Leaf cuttings.
Paulensis*BrazilLow indirect light.Terrarium or greenhouse. 70%.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Very well-draining soil with lots of perlite or moss only.Rhizomes sections.
Leaf cuttings hard.
PavoninaMalaysiaLow / medium indirect.House conditions. Terrarium or greenhouse. Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Rhizomes and stem cuttings.
Leaf cuttings easy.
PrismatocarpaWest AfricaLow / medium indirect.Terrarium. 80%.Do not overwater. Keep humid.Well-draining soil mix.Division. Stem cuttings.
RajahMalayaMedium indirect.Terrarium or greenhouse. 75%.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Stem or leaf cuttings.
ThurstoniiHybridMedium indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Stem cuttings only.
Benigo pinkHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Stem cuttings only.
Boston cherry and chocolateHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Leaf cutting easy. Stem cuttings.
BreakdanceHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Leaf cutting easy. Stem cuttings.
Candy stripesHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions or terrarium.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Leaf cutting easy. Stem cuttings.
Corallina de LucernaHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions or greenhouse with air flow.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Stem cuttings only.
EscargotHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions. 50%Do not overwater. Keep humid.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Leaf cutting easy. Stem cuttings.
ErythrophyllaHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Leaf cutting easy. Rhizome cuttings.
FrostyHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Stem cuttings only.
ManausHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions or terrarium.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Leaf cutting easy. Rhizome cuttings easy.
MoroccoHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Leaf cutting easy. Stem cuttings.
RicinifoliaHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Grows easily in most soils.
Well-draining soil mix.
Leaf cutting easy. Stem cuttings.
SinbadHybridMedium / bright indirect.House conditions.Let substrate dry out slightly.Well-draining soil mix.Stem cuttings only.
See more details below. Species marked with a * are not easy and do not resist well to environmental changes.

begonia blancii plant on marble background

Blancii

Origin: Philippines Island of Palawan, discovered in 2011 by Patrick Blanc and his team.

Description: They exist in a mottled form or in a dark form and grow on rocks in the jungle. Its spatulate leaves are very distinctive to this species and the flowers are white or pale pink. 

Soil type: This begonia can be grown as an epiphyte (on rock with moss). I grew mine in soil with lots of added perlite. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution when watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. Leaf fertilizing can be done since this epiphytic species gathers nutrients not only from the roots, but also from the air. 

Watering: Roots must be humid, but not wet. Bottom watering is best. A bit more resilient to dryness or overwatering than other species.

Light: Low light to indirect medium light. Will become yellowish under too much direct light. I cultivated mine under a 1800 lumen LED light placed at 8” high.

Propagation: Propagates easily from stem or leaf cutting in humid moss, perlite, or a mix of perlite/soil. Keep in a closed humid box until roots form. 

Resources: https://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com/inspiration/begonias


Begonia Caroliniifolia

Caroliniifolia or Carolineifolia

Origin: Central America. They were described in 1852 and seen in Brazil and Mexico.

Description: Has a palmate look with a big rhizome. Can grow up to 18-24” in height. Fast grower. Can be grown as a normal houseplant and is relatively easy to care for. Prefers drier air than most begonias. High humidity environment like a terrarium is not ideal. 

Soil type: This begonia grows best in well-aerated soil mix. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution when watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Water when the top of the soil has slightly dried out. Thirsty species in the summer. 

Light: Stands more light than other species. Too little light will elongate the plant and the color of the leaves will be paler. 

Propagation: Propagate by dividing rhizomes or tubers, or from leaf and stem cuttings. 

Resource: https://www.ipni.org/p/1200-2 


Begonia chloroneura leaf

Chloroneura

Origin: Philippines.

Description: This rhizomatous species can grow up to 18″. The color of the leaves are brown-purple with red trichomes on the edges, the veins are green, and the flowers are pale pink. Tolerates 65% humidity or more, but can be grown in a terrarium as long as water droplets do not stay on the leaves. They also tolerate lower temperatures.

Soil type: This begonia grows easily in most soils, but does best in a well-aerated soil mix. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: In my experience, this species is less sensitive than others to lack of water or too much water due to the thickness of its leaves. Brown spots can appear on the tip of the leaves when overwatered, and general leaf color can start yellowing. Constant watering is best, but let the substrate dry out slightly between waterings. 

Light: No direct sunlight, but LED lights will help them flower more often. Light should not be too strong or too close to the plant or the leaves will become yellow. I use a T5 full-spectrum LED at a height of around 8” which provides 1800 lumens. 

Propagation: Propagates easily from leaf cuttings or entire leaves, or rhizome sections. Propagates well in humid perlite, or a mix of perlite with a little soil in it. Keep in closed conditions such as a plastic container until new plants emerge.

Resource: http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:1009275-1 


Begonia chlorostica

Chlorosticta

*Not an easy species to grow. Does not resist well to changes in its environment. 

Origin: Native to the central Sarawak region on rocky slopes and damp cliffs at 450 m elevation. 

Description: This begonia needs 85% humidity with some air flow, so best grown in a grow bin with a miniature fan. It doesn’t stand well against any change to its environment and tends to lose leaves or melt even when a small temperature or humidity change occurs. Produces female flowers first and when they are gone, the male flowers will appear on the plant. It has a cane growth type and can reach 3 feet tall.

Soil type: Very airy soil with perlite or even humid sphagnum moss. Grows best in a soil mix with lots and lots of added perlite. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution with every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Do not overwater. It simply hates being overwatered and will start yellowing and losing leaves or melt. Also tends to root rot easily.  I would advise to water slightly when a bit dry.

Light: Low to medium light. 

Propagation: Pollination is hard because male and female flowers do not appear at same time. Leaf propagation is not easy, but is feasible. Humid perlite is good, but slightly humid moss can be used as well. Stem propagation is easier, in moss. Always keep enclosed while propagating.


Begonia cleopatrae top view on white background

Cleopatrae

*Note that some may confuse the Begonia cleopatrae with the Begonia cleopatra by name, a cultivar species, but they don’t look alike at all.

Origin: Native to Palawan Island, Philippines.

Description: The cleopatrae is a compact species, with leaves that are thick and green with brown patterns that can grow to 5″. They have a creeping growth habit. They are easy to grow on the windowsill given at least 55% ambient humidity, but can also grow well in a terrarium.  

Soil type: They can be grown in most soil types, but do best with added limestone. See my soil mix recipe here. I fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. A clay pot is best for this species.

Watering: This species is very resilient to lack of water, but the best results are obtained with constant watering and letting the substrate dry a bit between waterings. 

Light: No direct sunlight, but LED lights will help them flower more often. The color of the leaves can turn yellow under too much light or when there is not enough clay or nutrients in the soil. Greener leaves are obtained under medium indirect light or by amending the soil with limestone.  

Propagation: Propagates easily from leaf cuttings or entire leaves with or without a petiole. Propagates well in humid perlite, humid moss or a mix of perlite with a little soil in it. Keep in closed conditions such as a plastic container until new plants emerge.

Resource: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5432911/


Begonia crispula flowering in plastic pot.

Crispula

Origin: Brazilian species that was described in 1950.

Description: Creeping habit with crinkled leaves reaching up to 6’’ tall, growing flat and tightly clustered. Flowers are miniature, but profuse on one long stem. They are normally white when growing in the wild, but I observed pink flowers in my grow bin. They are a terrarium species that require at least 75% humidity.

Soil type: I have noticed that it needs more nutrients than other species. The leaves become slightly yellow while flowering or after a long time grown in the same substrate if not fertilized. Well aerated soil mix or sphagnum moss is best. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Water when the top of the soil has slightly dried out. Easier to water than other species because it does not melt easily, except if the soil is too close to the leaf clusters and there is no air flow. I use small rocks to separate the substrate from the leaves. 

Light: Low to medium indirect light. Does not require more than 1800 lumens at 8’’ height. 

Propagation: Rhizome or leaf cutting in moss or perlite. A mix of soil/perlite can be used but do not add too much water.

Resource: https://www.begonias.org/Articles/Vol70/Begonia_crispula.htm


Begonia curtisii leaf close-up

Curtisii

*Not an easy species to cultivate. Can melt if changes to its environment are too sudden.

Origin: Limestone rocky hills of Phang Nga, southern Thailand.

Description: Tuberous species with at least 2 forms: Milky way and Galaxy. Grows quite leggy and can form tubers along the stems in very humid environments. Leaf curl occurs frequently and adapting this species to a new environment can be challenging. It loves very high humidity (90%) but is fragile and does not like to have its roots too wet. Best kept in a closed terrarium or bin, no aeration is better in my experience. Dormancy is best after flowering to keep it strong and healthy, but it can be skipped for a few years if wanted. 

Soil type: Extremely well-draining soil mix is required. See my soil mix recipe here, I added lots of perlite for this species. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. Stop fertilizing after flowering and let it go dormant.

Watering: Be constant and extra careful not to overwater or it will melt, the leaves will slowly become transparent and die. Do not let them dry out too much or they  will curl.

Light: Medium light makes the leaves appear more burgundy and the spots brighter. Low light produces greener leaves. No direct sunlight. 

Propagation: Separation of tubers along the stems, stem cutting, and leaf cutting. Keep in a closed humid bin until the roots form.

Resource: https://www.gbif.org/species/4158054


Begonia Darhtvaderiana small plant

Darthvaderiana

*Will melt easily, does not like environmental changes or high temperatures. Not an easy one.

Origin: Discovered in 2014 in Borneo. 

Description: Yes, it is named after Darth Vader because of its dark burgundy/blackish appearance. It produces red flowers. Must be kept between 21°C and 28°C or it will die. Any temperature change that would be too sudden will also cause it to melt and die. It does not require too much aeration and is considered a terrarium species. If the leaves melt, do not lose hope. Take a remaining healthy leaf cutting and propagate it, or a stem cutting. I had all the leaves of mine dying one after the other when I introduced a fan into my bin, so I moved it to a non-aerated bin. After 4 months, a new leaf started growing back on the stem. 

Soil type: Very very well-draining soil mix. See my soil mix recipe here, but I added lots of perlite for this species. It is almost only perlite. Moss is good too for acclimation, but becomes acidic in the long term. Also make sure it is never drenched. Fertilize with a very diluted solution when watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. Stop fertilizing after flowering, and let it go dormant. Requires constant humid environment, at least 90% humidity.

Watering: Be constant, do not let dry out, and be extra careful not to overwater or it will melt, the leaves becoming slowly transparent and dying. Prone to stem and root rot if overwatered. 

Light: Low light is enough. No direct sunlight. 

Propagation: I strongly recommend propagating a leaf cutting upon reception of the plant, in case it did not react well to transportation and its new environment. Stem cutting is also possible and may be easier to root. Keep in a closed humid bin in perlite or moss, until roots form. Make sure the leaves do not receive water droplets or they will rot before rooting.

Resource:https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Che_Wei_Lin/publication/270396290_Three_new_species_of_Begonia_sect_Petermannia_Begoniaceae_from_Sarawak_Borneo/links/54a9e34c0cf256bf8bb960de.pdf


Begonia dracopelta small plant in pot

Dracopelta

Origin: Woodland species from west Kalimantan and southern Sarawak. 

Description: The leaves of the Begonia dracopelta have reddish/black bullaes on a green background. Minimum temperature of 15°C is required. Relatively easy to grow. Grows in a cane-like habit, but stays quite low.

Soil type: Grows best in well-aerated soil mix with added perlite, but can also be grown in moss with perlite. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Water when the soil is slightly dry. In my experience, this species is less sensitive than others to overwatering. When overwatered, leaves become transparent, thin and tender. Constant watering is best, but make sure to let the substrate dry out slightly between waterings. 

Light: Medium light is best to keep a stronger red color of the bullaes, but never place it under direct sun. LED grow lights can be used. 

Propagation: Stem cutting is easier than leaf propagation, but both are possible. Perlite is best, in enclosed conditions with low light until roots form.


Begonia ferox

Ferox

*Note that Begonia ferox is similar to Begonia mellanobullata. Their main difference is that the black cones on the ferox leaves called ‘’bullae’’ appear at maturity and the hair on the tip of the bullae called trichome falls off after a while. On the mellanobullata, trichomes stays on the bullae during the whole plant’s life and the cones appear even on new immature leaves.

Origin: Southwestern China, on limestone surrounded by a litter of leaf and moss.

Description: It can grow to about 16″ in diameter, with a big strong rhizome. Its leaves are green when young, but black cones appear at maturity, with the underside of the leaf slightly red. On bigger and older plants, the new leaves can appear red with the bullae even when very young. See an example here. It has been said it is a slow grower, but in my experience, it grows and roots quickly. The propagated plant roots are stronger than those of other species and I had to repot my mother plant 3 times in the last year because of root overgrowth. They require at least 85% ambient humidity to grow, but like a good airflow.

Soil type: Grows best in a well-aerated soil mix with limestone. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: This species is less sensitive than others to lack of water or too much water due to the thickness of its leaves. However, black spots may appear on the leaves when overwatered. Constant watering is best, but let the substrate dry out slightly between waterings. The color of the leaves can tend towards yellow when thirsty or not getting enough fertilizer. 

Light: No direct sunlight, but LED lights will help them flower more often. Do note, they should not be too strong or too close. I use a T5 full-spectrum LED at a height of around 8” and it has 1800 lumens. 

Propagation: Propagates easily from rhizome sections, leaf cuttings or with entire leaves with or without petiole. Propagates well in humid perlite or a mix of perlite with a little soil in it. Keep in closed conditions such as a plastic container until new plants emerge.

Resources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5430383/

https://www.begonias.org/SOS/Begonia%20ferox.pdf


Begonia goegoensis big specimen on black bagkground

Goegoensis

Origin: Goego, Sumatra. It was described in 1882.

Description: Peltate species with a silky texture. Their colors vary between green and dark brown with small pink flowers. Tends to lose leaves under cooler temperatures (21°C). Keep in a greenhouse with a minimum of 70% humidity. 

Soil type: Prefers a well-draining but rich soil. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Be careful to not overwater as it can stain the leaves brown and melt. Constant watering is best. Do not let dry out.

Light: Medium indirect light is best for darker leaf color but does not tolerate direct light. 1800 lumens LED grow light at 8’’ is good.

Propagation: I strongly recommend propagating a leaf cutting upon reception of the plant, in case it did not react well to transport and its new environment. Stem cutting is also possible and may be easier to root. Keep in a closed humid bin in perlite or moss, until roots form. Make sure the leaves do not get wet or they will rot before rooting.

Resource: https://www.begonias.org/Articles/Vol60/B_goegoensis.htm


Begonia henryii hemsl plant on dark background

Henryii Hemsl

*Also known as Begonia delavayi or Begonia mairei

Origin: Grows on rocks or in cracks at an elevation of 800-2600 m in China and Vietnam. N Guangxi, SE Guizhou, Hubei (Yichang), Sichuan, and Yunnan. 

Description: Tuberous species with tubers 8-10 mm in diameter. They have long brown/red stems with green leaves showing a black pattern. The leaves are pubescent and there are only a few pink flowers on the plant. They need a rest period for best results.  Keep in 70% humidity at least. Grows well in greenhouse conditions. 

Soil type: Well-aerated and draining soil. See my soil mix recipe here. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. A soil pH of 6 is best. I do not recommend growing it in moss only as it can become too wet.

Watering: Water when dry. The tubers store water and nutrients and can rot if overwatered. Never water the foliage as it is pubescent and retains water, which cause the leaves to rot. Cut back watering when the tubers are going dormant, normally after flowering.

Light: Diffuse light is great for this species, 1800 lumen is enough. Too much light can result in burns or reddish foliage, but not enough light and the plant will look elongated and weak.

Propagation: Tubers division is the best method. 

Resource: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200014491


begonia maculata wightii

Maculata wightii

Origin: Discovered in Brazil in 1982, but also found in Argentina and Mexico.

Description: Cane type. Green elongated leaves with white dots. Underleaf is burgundy. Can grow as fast as 30 cm per season so pruning is suggested to keep it bushy. If grown on a windowsill, it might require a little extra humidity around the leaves to prevent brown tips. A pebble tray with water beside the pot can help.

Soil type: Begonia maculata can be grown in a tropical soil mix with added perlite. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Allow culture media to dry slightly between waterings. 

Light: Medium indirect light is best as it darkens the green color of the leaves. 

Propagation: Stem cutting is the only, in water, soil or perlite. Leaf cuttings will only produce a rooted leaf but will never produce new plants. It is called a zombie leaf. Keep in enclosed conditions with low light until roots form. 


Begonia malachosticta young plant

Malachosticta

Origin: Limestone hill of Borneo. Elevation of 225 m.

Description: Angel wing type. Grows fast to 18’’ tall. Requires high humidity such as a terrarium or a greenhouse.

Soil type: Perlite is best, but can be grown in a soil mix with a lot of perlite. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Allow culture media to dry slightly between waterings. 

Light: Medium indirect light is best as it darkens the pink dots and leaf contours. 

Propagation: Stem cutting is the best method, in moss. Keep in enclosed conditions with low light until roots form. 

Resource: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8748.1990.tb00594.x


Begonia ningmingensis leaves close-up and new leaf

Ningmingensis var. Vietnam

Origin: Vietnam. There are 3 different varieties of the ningmingensis: Bella, Vietnam and dark form. They are a cliff/crevice dwelling species.

Description: Slow growing species, with leaves reaching up to 5’’. Textured leaves with pubescent contours. Pale pink flowers. Keep in a terrarium environment or grow bin with a minimum of 75% ambient humidity.

Soil type: Grows best in a well-aerated soil mix with added perlite and limestone. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Be careful not to drop water on the leaves because they retain moisture and tend to melt. Do not overwater or the plant will have brown/black spots on the leaves. Water when soil starts to dry out.

Light: Low to medium indirect light is required. Diffuse light is great for this species. I recommend 1800 lumen.

Propagation: Propagates in perlite by leaf cuttings. Avoid letting the leaves get wet during the propagation stage or they will blacken and rot. Keep perlite humid in a closed container, but make sure to wipe excess water from the top to prevent water drops falling back on the leaves.

Resource: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Begonia-ningmingensis-D-Fang-Y-G-Wei-C-I-Peng-var-ningmingensis-A-B-C-Habit_fig1_263102825 


Begonia paulensis handheld plant

Paulensis

*Not an easy species to stabilize when first brought to your greenhouse. Does not react well to changes in its environment and even less to overwatering. Melts very easily. 

Origin: Brazil, identified in 1859. 

Description: Peltate leaves (with ripples in the center) that can reach up to 6’’ tall at maturity. They have white flowers with red spikes on the back of the petals. They require stable growing conditions and at least 70% humidity. They do not like high heat, but can stand colder temperatures. I grow mine in a greenhouse because a cloche or terrarium is too humid and not well aerated enough for its taste. Shrub type begonia with a slow growing habit. 

Soil type: Very well-draining soil mix. Grows best in a well-aerated soil mix with added perlite. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution when watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period. 

Watering: Water when soil is dry and be careful not to overwater, it is very sensitive and will melt. 

Light: North facing window or LED light at a good distance. Under strong light, leaves will burn because of their thin texture.

Propagation: Rhizome cuttings and stem cutting. Leaf cutting is possible but not easy. Keep in perlite in humid environment until rooted.

Resource: https://www.begonias.org/monthly/paulensis.pdf


Begonia pavonina in the dark showing iridescence

Pavonina

* For a more iridescent blue, cool nights (13°C to 15°C) and low light will do the trick. Iridescence is also not as visible in hight light than in the dark.

Origin: Originates from the mountainous regions of Malaysia.

Description: Note that the Begonia pavonina often seen in cultivation might be a hybrid, developed by researchers to facilitate testing on this species. The original native species was said to be very hard to keep and it melted easily. I suspect this one is a cross between the Begonia grandis and pavonina, but genetic sequencing might tell us otherwise. The pavonina that is sold in North America is very easy to care for and tolerates well in normal house conditions. However, note that if your air is too dry (below 50%), the leaf tips might dry up. 

Soil type: Being a fast grower, pavonina requires more nutrients in the soil, so I used less perlite in my soil mix compared to other species. I fertilize lightly but often, because it is sensitive to fertilizer burn. It still likes aeration around the roots so make sure there still is a bit of perlite in the mix. The pH of the soil should be between 5 and 7, so you might want to use a bit of sphagnum moss to acidify the soil if there is not any in your original soil mix.

Watering: Water once the soil starts to dry out. Use your finger to see if top inch of soil is dried out before watering again.

Light: Low light is great to make the plant even more iridescent, but it can grow faster under medium lighting. 

Propagation: Propagates easily from stem or leaf cuttings in humid moss, soil/perlite mix or perlite only. Keep in closed conditions such as a plastic container until new plants emerge.

Resources: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323547414_Lamelloplasts_and_minichloroplasts_in_Begoniaceae_iridescence_and_photosynthetic_functioning

Also, see this article http://herebutnot.com/begonia-pavonina-care-culture/


Begonia prismatocarpa in terrarium with jewel orchid

Prismatocarpa

Origin: Western Africa, forest.

Description: This miniature species likes warm temperatures and ambient moisture. They require a high humidity so a terrarium culture is best, but trim often if grown in a small terrarium. They have green miniature leaves with red stems and the flowers are bright yellow. They require temperatures between 10°C and 30°C. You can grow this begonia species both epiphytically or terrestrially. 

Soil type: Grows best in a well-aerated soil mix or in pure sphagnum moss. See my soil mix recipe here. Fertilize with a very diluted solution in every watering. I use algae fertilizer most of the time and once a month I use a more complete organic fertilizer during the growth or flowering period.  Soil pH should be between 5 to 7.

Watering: Carefully keep it moist, but never too wet or the leaves will melt (become brown and tender and eventually will rot away or dry out). 

Light: Can tolerate various conditions, but best grown in low to medium indirect light. No direct sunlight. 

Propagation: Separating the new plantlets by stem is the best way to ensure propagation since they are fragile and leaf cuttings can rot easily. 

Resource: https://botanyphoto.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/2007/11/begonia_prismatocarpa/ 


Begonia rajah in situ

Rajah

Origin: Asia, discovered in Malaya in 1894 by Ridley.

Description: Rhizomatous species with distinctive foliage in dark green and deep mahogany. New leaves are red. It prefers cooler temperatures. This species requires a high humidity-enclosed container to thrive. 

Soil type: Use a perlite only or moss only if preferred. This plant grows best in very well aerated soil, but I recommend fertilizing it often if grown in non-soil media. I grow mine in a mix of perlite and moss as it has very thin roots and the plant is still small. 

Watering: Water only when slightly dry. Does not tolerate having roots sitting in water. Use a light fertilizer such as algae in every watering, and complement with a complete fertilizer every month during growth period or flowering.

Light: I suggest using a 1800 lumens LED light at 8’’. It requires low to medium light, no direct sun. Upon receiving too much light, the leaves will lose their vibrant color and become olive green. 

Propagation: Propagates easily from stem or leaf cuttings in humid moss, soil/perlite mix or perlite only. Keep in closed conditions such as a plastic container until new plants emerge.

Resource: https://www.begonias.org/Articles/Vol60/Begonia_rajah.htm


Begonia ricinifolia new plant

Ricinifolia

Origin: Rhizomatous species hybridized in 1847.

Description: This hardy species is spectacular with its big leaves that can reach 90 cm and its long petioles have thick red trichomes. Their flowers are pink and flower in good numbers. They are easily grown in normal house conditions, but like a bit more humidity (around 55%). It does not like cold weather, so avoid putting the plant on the windowsill in winter. 

Soil type: The size of the leaves is maybe a cause of this begonia being always thirsty. I use a normal houseplant soil mix and did not even add more perlite in it. Soil pH of 6 to 7. 

Watering: Be careful not to overwater or the leaves will look brown or pale. Not enough water is easy to spot since the leaves get droopy and pale. 

Light: Eastern or Western facing windows or medium led light.

Propagation: Leaf cutting or rhizome sections. Propagates well in humid perlite or a mix of perlite with a little soil in it. Keep in a closed condition such as a plastic container until new plants emerge, but make sure it is not drenched or the leaf sections will become brown and rot.


Buy Begonia manaus

Manaus

Origin: Hybrid from parents B. thelmae and B. soli-mutata.

Description: This easy species is has a trailing habit and grows fast. Its leaves can grow up to 4”. It has small trichomes giving it a red color. The flowers are white. This begonia is easily grown in normal house conditions, but can also be grown in a terrarium, given regular pruning.  

Soil type: I use a normal houseplant soil mix and did not even add more perlite in it. Soil pH of 6 to 7. 

Watering: Be careful not to overwater or the leaves will show brown spots. A lack of water can cause dry tips.

Light: Eastern or Western facing windows or bright led light.

Propagation: Leaf cutting or rhizome sections. Propagates well in humid moss, perlite or a mix of perlite with a little soil in it. Keep in a closed condition such as a plastic container until new plants emerge, but make sure it is not drenched or the leaf sections will become brown and rot. Easy to propagate.


Begonia care by types

begonia maculata

Cane type

Description: They can be grown as a normal houseplant with a little extra humidity to ensure the tips of the leaves do not dry up. If the humidity is not high enough around the plant, you may use a pebble tray with water to raise ambient humidity or grouping plants together may also help. They also grow tall and must be trimmed during the summer months to ensure a more bushy plant. Begonia lucerna, Begonia maculata, Begonia benigo Pink, and Begonia Frosty are good examples of cane type begonias. Also called Angel wing begonias. 

Soil type: Normal houseplant mix, but you can add a little perlite for more aeration. Fertilize once a month with a complete fertilizer during summer months or flowering period.

Watering: Never let it dry out completely. Water when the top inch of soil is dry, but do not let it sit in a water dish. 

Light: Bright indirect light. North facing windowsill. Can tolerate more light than other species.

Propagation: Stem propagation. Leaf propagation will produce only a zombie leaf, meaning that it might root and stay alive, but it will never produce a new plant. I suggest propagating stems with at least one leaf in humid moss.

Resource: https://www.begonias.org/Articles/Vol47/CaneLikeBegonias.htm 


Rex begonia with pink dots

Rhizomatous (including rex)

Description: Rexes may tolerate dry air for a little while, but they do best in a little extra humidity in the long term. They can be grown as a normal houseplant. Most native rhizomatous species, however,m require greenhouse conditions or even terrarium humidity of at least 75%. A good example of a native species that is a rhizomatous type is Begonia ferox.

Soil type: Normal houseplant mix with a little extra perlite is best for rexes. Most rhizomatous begonias that are a native species will prefer a chunkier mix containing orchid bark, perlite, moss and soil because they have very fine roots. 

Watering: Never let it sit in water for too long, but do water when the top soil is dry. Be careful to not let them dry out for too long. However, they can also be very sensitive to overwatering and the leaves will become brown or pale.

Light: Moderate to bright indirect light. Note, the light will influence the leaf color.

Propagation: Easiest begonia type to propagate by leaf cutting in soil, perlite or moss. Stem cuttings are also possible to do, in humid sphagnum moss. 

Resource: https://www.thespruce.com/grow-rex-begonia-1902492


Begonia henryii hemsl plant on dark background

Tuberous type

Description: Tuberous begonias have leaves that often branch directly from the tubers at soil level. Tubers are like a mini potato and store energy and water for the plant. Tuberous types require a rest period during winter months or after flowering. Begonia henryii is an example of a tuberous begonia. 

Soil type: Very well-draining but rich soil mix. New potting soil should be used during a new growth period of the tubers or at least, fertilize the soil during the growth period. Never fertilize while dormant. A poor soil will not produce new tubers every season and leaf production may also be affected.

Watering: Water regularly during growth period, but hold back on watering at the beginning of dormancy. While dormant, tubers should stay dry. You can dig them up and store them in a cool and dry place or store the entire pot with dried up media in a bag. Store below 10°C or the growth will start too early. In April, you can plant the tubers in fresh media and water them carefully. Do not drench the soil until new growth appears.

Light: Low to moderate indirect light. 

Propagation: Tubers form in the soil during the growth season and can produce a new plant the next season, after dormancy. 

Resource: https://www.mountainorchids.com/Care-For-Plants-Needing-Seasonal-Rests


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Begonia amphioxus on black background
Begonia amphixous | Photo by Anika Dreilich

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SOIL MIX RECIPE

I use a mycorrhizal soil mix containing coco fiber, peat, and limestone. I add ⅔  cup of perlite and a bit of sphagnum moss to the mix as well, and on top of the pot to retain humidity around the leaf area. I also add in some worm castings for more nutrients. I use Gaia green organic 4-4-4 fertilizer in the mix as well because it is slow release and helps stronger root growth, beautiful green foliage, and helps produce flowers. It is light so I also fertilize with a complete all-purpose fertilizer once per two months when flowering or in growth.

*Keep in mind that this is my recipe based on tests I did and I optimized it for my growing conditions. I strongly encourage you to do your own research and read literature about the begonia species you grow.