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The begonia maculata may sound like a strange name for a plant, but maculata means spotted, and in this case, the plant with its green hue and silver spots is also referred to as “the polka dot begonia”. And although available for purchase in many countries, it is native to the Brazilian states.
This gorgeous plant was also introduced to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Argentina.
This plant is certainly unique and offers a pleasant yet striking addition to any space, so if you’re looking for a plant with flair, you have come to the right spot.
Describing Begonia Maculata
This plant is certainly one which turns heads and will have friends and guests wondering as to what it is exactly. This is where you can tell them about what you have learned about this exciting plant.
It has oblong leaves that are typically olive-green to sometimes a slightly darker hue, and the leaves are also covered in what are white or silver dots. This amazing contrast in color is what draws many to it.
On the underside of the leaves, you will notice that the color is quite different from the top and is a reddish-purple.
When the plant does flower, they are usually white. However, they may be pink in some cases, and they grow in a stem.
This busy and somewhat extravagant plant, as mentioned, is something to behold and is an evergreen perennial that originally comes from Brazil’s tropical forests. So one thing you will note is that it requires one to try and replicate this sort of environment.
How To Care For A Begonia Maculata – Tips for Growing A Begonia Maculata
One of the primary points we need to be wary of is that you will likely need to repot your begonia once per year.
Whiles still in its developmental stage, you will need to repot it more often. The challenge here is finding the balance between what is too big or small for the plant.
The importance of light and humidity cannot be overstressed with this plant. Due to its origins, this plant enjoys rather particular conditions; it is fond of light, but direct and hot light may burn it, and high humidity also keeps this plant happy and content.
Effective pruning is also something, which thankfully is not too difficult to master, but done correctly, will make a difference to your plant’s overall growth and development (and is a means of propagation, which we’ll discuss shortly).
Begonia Maculata Light Requirement
The begonia maculata requires light, just as you will find with most plants, especially house plants; yet, we need to consider that not all require the same sort of exposure to light.
This plant, in particular, prefers to see the light but not be in direct sunlight. So the best place for it would be in a room that receives bright light from 10k-20k lux, which you can test using a light meter (it would be wise to measure these figures throughout the day to find consistency).
Too much light lies on the one side of the spectrum, and then you have the issue of too little light as well. If the plant receives inadequate light, it will be less inclined to healthy blooms, and the leaves will lose their color and shed.
The Ideal Temperature For Begonia Maculata
This is a simple component to caring for your begonia maculata; now, although it originated in the tropics, it can do equally well in temperatures we enjoy.
Ideally, the sweet spot for this plant would be temperatures between the range of between 70°F (21°C) and 85/86°F (29/30°C).
These temperatures should be easy to maintain indoors during the spring, summer, and early fall; however, this may change in late fall and winter.
These plants often do not survive in cold conditions, and at best, they will go dormant during these periods.
So you want to avoid allowing the temperature in your home to drop below 59°F (15°C), and if the plant does go dormant, it will be fine once temperatures are ideal once more.
Ideal Humidity Levels For Begonia Maculata
The begonia maculata is quite content with temperatures we are accustomed to. Watering them is not too much of a fine art either; however, regulating their preferred humidity is a challenge for most.
Ideally, you want to opt for higher humidity, and this is due to their coming from the southeast Brazilian jungles, so they naturally desire that to thrive, but how does one achieve this indoors, and how well can we manage it?
When we say high humidity levels, we are talking between 40-60%. This is the range in which the plant is happiest, and you will reap optimal results. However, it must be noted that this is not as vital as being diligent with the watering of the plant.
This is because, although it is trickier to prime the humidity level in a space, the amount of water or lack thereof could lead to devastating effects for your begonia maculata plant.
To achieve the desired outcome, you can place the begonia maculata with other plants and use water trays to raise the humidity. Another thing one can do is run a humidifier indoors during the times such as winter when the central heating is on and dries out the air.
And finally, if you have access to one (they are fairly inexpensive), you can use a digital hygrometer, which will enable you to test and monitor the humidity where your plant is living.
Begonia Maculata Soil Requirements
The primary focus here is that we want well-aerated soil that will not retain water for extensive periods. You should be looking for something that retains moisture but does not do so long enough to allow for root rot.
A good idea is to add a potting mix for your houseplant, and the three items mentioned below are other elements to add to the mix to help create the ideal environment for your plant. So consider:
- Perlite – This is great for maintaining aeration within the soil, and it also insulates the soil during periods of rapid or extreme temperature changes. They have a white and fluffy appearance and a texture that closely resembles Styrofoam.
- Leca – The term LECA is an acronym for “lightweight expanded clay aggregate” and they are either something to use in addition to your potting soil or in isolation. In hydroponic gardening, they are highly popular. And a reason they are often preferred, is that they do not contain living organisms.
- Wood chips – Another option available to you is using wood chips to help create spaces within the soil to help with aeration. Over time the wood chips will decompose, thus meaning that you will need to add more, but this can be done when you repot the plant.
Begonia Maculata Watering Requirement
Due to the cane-like nature of their stems, these plants tend to retain water, and therefore they are not fans of overly wet conditions, primarily in the soil. Before you water them again, it is usually best to allow the top layer of soil to have dried out before applying more water.
Below the top layer, though, you want the soil to remain moist for the most part, so as a rule of thumb, allow the first inch to dry out between waters. If you do not make this allowance, the plant could live unhappily in soggy soil.
Another interesting fact about the begonia maculata is that it prefers for its leaves not to be wet; therefore, unlike with other plants where you can topwater, with this, it is best to stick to bottom watering.
If there is too much water in the soil (particularly if it does not drain properly), the plant may suffer root rot. On the flip side of this, though, they are not desert plants and must therefore never be allowed to go through a period where they lack water either.
But permitting the top layer to dry will discourage the growth of fungus and pests trying to occupy the space in your pot plant.
What Fertilizer To Use For Begonia Maculata
This should only be done while the plant is actively growing; this is especially the case when it is flowering to provide enough nutrients and energy.
This will only occur during the spring and summer seasons, not throughout autumn and winter.
One advantage of this plant is that it is a moderate feeder (for a flowering plant) and therefore will only need fertilizing every 2-4 weeks. The type of fertilizer you want to provide it with is a water-soluble one that can be mixed in with the water on the days you fertilize.
You can look to find a balanced fertilizer mix that has equal NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) numbers; you will then dilute it down and feed the plant as recommended, but if you note browning on the leaf tips, cut back as this indicates you are giving it too much.
Repotting Begonia Maculata
It is advised that you repot your begonia maculata at least once a year, usually during the springtime, as this is when growth generally starts to kick in again. However, people will repot up to twice in a single year in some cases.
When you repot the plant, there are a few things you need to consider. They enjoy being slightly rootbound or have their roots in a more compact layout, but at the same time, in cases such as this, the surrounding soil is often worn out very quickly.
Even if your plant has reached a more mature size and is not going through growth spurts, it is still recommended that you repot it at least once per year.
This is regardless of whether you may be returning it to its original pot. Instead, use it as an opportunity to inspect the roots and replenish/replace the soil.
If you have your begonia maculata placed in a light pot, it would be advisable, especially as it grows, to either place this into a heavier pot or transfer it all together. The reason is that these plants tend to be top-heavy and will become problematic over time.
When you increase the pot size for your plant, do not be too enthusiastic and upscale too quickly. Rather be conservative as you do not want the plant to expend unnecessary energy on expanding its roots, especially since this is not one of their strong suits.
Pruning Your Begonia Maculata
The begonia Maculata requires semi-regular pruning, and this should be done roughly twice per year, much like the frequency of repotting it. Yes, one does want their plant to grow, but most often, you want compact growth.
The pruning should usually be rather significant and aid in cutting back enough of the plant to allow for the desired regrowth that you are looking for.
Once the plant has filled out, it is a remarkable plant; however, it can become “bushy” and there is thus a need to intervene. The canes become sparse, and you will note that the plant dedicates more energy to growing up than out instead. If this is your desired effect, by all means, give it something to grow on.
Once the plant becomes too tall, though, the best time to cut it will be in late autumn as this is just leading into the period where the plant will enter a time of general dormancy; as it comes to the end of the growing season.
If you want to have the length of a particular sectioned shortened, it is advisable to use the milder form of pruning, which is pinching out the tips. What this does is have the cane tissue release a suppressing hormone.
To achieve this, you need to cut the cane a quarter of an inch above a leaf of the section in question. This will lead to a new leaf sprouting from this point.
On the note of pruning your begonia maculata, you ought to opt for sterile and sharp shears; you do not want to cause any infections to the plant, and blunt blades will render unsatisfactory results.
If you are unsure of their cleanliness, try dipping them in isopropyl alcohol, which will do the trick.
Propagation Of Begonia Maculata
Begonia maculata are remarkably easy to propagate and can be done in water and soil. Thus far, we have discussed elements of caring for existing plants, but now we want to branch out (no pun intended).
Hence, we will look at the propagation methods for this plant, which is via stem cutting. It truly is as simple as that; well, almost, so let us dive into the details pertaining to how we should go about this.
When making the cut, you usually have to ensure against cutting too close to the node of that section, as the roots will cluster around the node, and when you plant it, it may not take off effectively.
With this one, that is not a serious problem, as although this will occur, the roots will also grow elsewhere on the stem.
Just like pruning with this particular plant is simple, so it is with its propagation, and we shall see how we can multiply our plant.
Propagation in Water – Depending on your cutting size, find a suitably sized jar or container and fill it with water. Remember, you only want to cover the lower part of the cutting with water (where you want the new roots to appear). The soon-to-be plant will release rooting hormones to start the process.
Propagation in Soil – This variation in propagating may eliminate the need to transfer from the water container (in the water propagation method) to a pot; however, it requires more effort. Also, you cannot see how well the roots are growing. Dip the cutting in powdered root hormone, bury that section in the soil, and water it.
Common Problems with Begonia Maculata
The thing with all house plants, and even plants in general, is that they can be predisposed to certain issues such as disease, infections, and other such problems; below are a few you may want to take note of.
Yellow Or Brown Leaves
If your leaves turn brown or yellow, then your issue most likely lies in overwatering the plant, and you ought to cut back.
We have already mentioned other problems are over-fertilizing, under-fertilizing, disease, and temperature problems (usually when it is too cold).
Not Enough Sunlight
This correlates closely with the previous point, which is the yellowing of the plant’s leaves.
First, they will begin to lose their rich, green color, and finally, their leaves will become yellow, then wilt and shed.
If the opposite is true and the plant is receiving too much sun, it will have droopiness and a scorched appearance.
Pests – Spider Mites And Mealybugs?
Mealybugs are your primary potential concern here, and this is due to them being almost immune to pesticides; what will happen is possibly beneficial insects, and bugs will be killed before they are affected.
What you can do is apply insecticidal soap sprays, oils, and finally, systemic house plant insect control.
Also, short-acting organic pesticides are a potential option, and then we hope that predatory insects such as ladybugs will come and finish them off.
Typically, high humidity will not be an issue in most cases; however, it and overwatering can lead to a strew of potential issues such as botrytis, root and stem rot, and whitefly problems.
If you are utilizing a humidifier in the space where your plants are growing, be sure to have a means of supporting air circulation; using a ceiling or even a portable fan on a low setting will be sufficient.
Specific Products For Begonia Maculata
Below is a brief list of popular products among those who own begonia maculata, which we would highly recommend investing in from the start of your journey with this plant and which may well come in hand for use on your other plants too.
- For an All-purpose fertilizer, see here.
- For an Organic potting mix, see here.
- For a Systemic house plant insect control, see here.
- For excellent quality and good value for money, Humidifier, see here.
Where Can I Buy A Begonia Maculata?
There are various online options to choose from; one very popular site would be Etsy. Amazon, which seems to sell everything these days, is another viable option.
However, you may be able to find one at a local nursery.
Call them and find out if they have – handpicking your plant is always great fun and makes for an exciting outing; you may even spot other plants you like.
Frequently Asked Questions About Begonia Maculata
Below you shall find a brief list of certain things we may not have touched on enough or at all within the sections above:
1. Is Begonia Maculata Poisonous?
Begonia maculata is toxic to pets and people if ingested. The leaves of Begonia maculata contain calcium oxalate, which is mildly toxic if consumed by humans and mammals. Calcium oxalate can also cause skin irritation.
Typically pets do now eat houseplants; however, some tend to nibble from time to time, so be wary of this. Also, if you have young children, you may wish to reconsider this plant.
2. What Is The Growth Rate Of Begonia Meculata?
During growing seasons, typically during spring and extending into summer, the growth is remarkably rapid, especially if the indoor temperatures do not climb too drastically. The plant is known to grow up to an entire foot within one growing season.
3. Is Misting A Begonia Maculata Effective?
Misting your begonia maculata will be of no benefit; rather, it reacts well to humid spaces. Thus, if you want to promote growth and lushness, invest in a humidifier and a means of circulating the air to prevent powdery mildew from occurring.
4. Why Is My Begonia Maculata Leaning Over?
This can come about for two reasons, the first being that the plant’s canes are becoming too long, and it needs a support structure (tying it to a piece of bamboo would do the trick) to stay upright.
The second may occur even after you have implemented the previous step, and this is usually when the plant sits in one place and is never rotated, and only one side receives the bulk share of the sun’s rays that fall on it.
Merely turn the plant periodically, and your problem will eventually remedy itself.
5. Why Is My Begonia Maculata Not Blooming?
This usually comes down to insufficient sun and light exposure. You want to have the plant in a bright space, but try to keep it out of direct sunlight. Also, the plant blooms seasonally and will not bear flowers year-round.
6. The Leaves Are Falling Off My Begonia Masculata, Why?
This can come about for quite different reasons, so consider what is mentioned and then take the necessary steps.
If you suddenly change its environment, or if the conditions are inconsistent, the plant will be very unhappy.
Other things to bear in mind are the type of soil you are using, finding out if your fertilizer is the correct type (also if you are adding too little or too much), how wet or dry you are allowing the soil to be, and finally there not being ample humidity for the plant.