All about the Begonia
The begonia plant is the perfect choice for someone looking for a houseplant packed with a big bunch of colours and flamboyance. It can be found in asymmetrical, patterned, and variegated foliage with the shades of white, pink, yellow, and scarlet blooms. They are pretty handy and easy to grow and require lots of love to blossom.
Begonia is commonly known as Semperflorens Cultorum group and wax begonia, which is one of its types.
Different types of a Begonia
Begonia plant is a genus of more than 1800 plant species and belongs to the Begoniaceae family. Some of its species are typically grown indoors as ornamental houseplants in cooler climates, while some are cultivated outdoors in the summer for their vibrant, colorful leaves.
All are distinct based on their foliage’s type and colors. Popular begonia classifications are:
- Wax, annual, or bedding begonias
- Tuberous begonias
- Cane begonias
- Rhizomatous begonias
- Rex begonias
Origin of the Begonia
Begonias originate from both tropical and subtropical regions. Their natural habitat is moist, cool forests and tropical rainforests, but some of its types are also adapted to dry climates.
It is believed that Begonias were primarily found in Brazil when it was first discovered in 1690. After records showed that they were also seen in Mexico and that the Chinese used them in the 14th century, people knew that this plant has a long history.
How to (generally) take care of a Begonia
Begonia isn’t the type of plant that’ll bug you with a long list of intense care practices. In fact, it is pretty versatile in this regard. Here’s how you can keep your begonia happy and lively:
Watering a begonia plant is probably the most challenging task to nail down, considering they like to be kept evenly moist but won’t tolerate sitting in water. Their roots are fine and delicate; therefore, the soil they are placed in shouldn’t be too damp as it can lead to the development of root rot.
You can test it by sticking a finger in the soil. If the top inch seems dry, you may water it. However, if you’re still in doubt whether you should water or not, wait until its leaves turn saggy, which indicates that the plant is drying out. Water the soil then, keeping the leaves dry.
Any spot where a plant’s lightning, soil, temperature, and humidity requirements are fulfilled tends to be the ideal location for it. Keep in mind the following specifications when placing your begonia:
- Lighting Exposure: Cane begonias appreciate bright, indirect sunlight, while rhizomatous and rex begonias call for a bit more shade. In general, they prefer partial shade locations where they are protected from the intense afternoon rays.
As houseplants, you can place them in front of east-, west-, or south-facing windows as long as they’re kept away from direct sunlight.
- Soil Necessities: Begonias aren’t really fussy about this. Yet ideally, they appreciate a well-drained soil that has been amended by the addition of organic matter, such as compost and peat moss.
- Temperature Requirement: Begonias respond best to warm and moist conditions. A temperature range of 15-26°C is suitable for them; however, some begonias can tolerate a high temperature of 40°C with protection from harsh sun rays and a low degree of 5°C or even lower.
- Humidity Preferences: High humidity serves to be a great boost in begonia’s growth. A daily dose of misting or running a humidifier or even a saucer filled with pebbles and water can help maintain high humidity for your plant.
Begonias are fairly heavy feeders, so make it a habit to nourish them regularly in the active spring season and weekly in summers. A good quality organic compost fertilizer is always an ideal choice for a begonia. One can also mix a granular fertilizer into the soil to ensure good health. Watch out for the chemicals, though, as begonias are very sensitive to them.
Wax begonias are great air-purifiers. They enhance the surrounding air quality by clearing out benzene and other harmful chemicals by toluene, a liquid found in some waxes and adhesives.
Begonias are mildly toxic. The plant’s juice and sap contain microscopic, poisonous needle-shaped crystals, but its roots and underground tubes are especially toxic.
They are irritating to almost everything, including humans, and can prompt allergic reactions in them. If ingested by pets, they cause intense burning and irritation in the mouth and can also lead to excessive drooling and vomiting.
Propagating a Begonia plant
Grown-up begonias are fun and easy to propagate through a leaf or stem cuttings or by collecting and then planting the seeds. Here’s a brief summary of these methods:
- Propagation by leaf cuttings: Cut a mature leaf from the plant with a sharp knife from a point where the leaf meets the stem. Next, clip the cut end into a point. Put it in the growing medium, which can be as simple as a clear plastic cup covered with saran wrap. Make sure the humidity inside the container is high, and you’re good to go!
- Propagation by seed germination: Use new seedling trays or flats for this method. Fill the trays with a sterile potting mix and gently press the seeds across the surface of the potting mix. Try to distribute them evenly across the soil and water the new seeds. Cover the tray with a plastic sheet or humidity dome and place it under grow lights for about 14-18 hours per day. Remove the sheet or humidity dome as soon as the seeds begin to germinate.