Spotted Begonia

OFFICIAL NAME

Begonia maculata

ALSO KNOWN AS

Polka Dot Begonia, Trout Begonia, Angel Wing Begonia, 'Wightii'

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Eastern Brazil | Subtropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

Quite a cheery little plant. Known for their 'angel wing' leaves with the cutest silver polka dots and red undersides! These are cane-type begonias, which means they grow on upright stems, generally in clusters or clumps and can grow quite tall!

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

moderate, flowering, bright indirect, goldilocks, mid-size, upright, shelf, tabletop, subtropical, patterns, variegation, ruffled, color

✨ RARE FIND ✨

Spotted Begonia

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Take extra care in winter to avoid overwatering.

Water

Preferred Light

Your Spotted Begonia prefers bright, indirect light and lots of it, but will enjoy brief exposure to direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and expect the plant to take on an elongated, sparse look.

Light

Humidity Needs

Can adapt to average room humidity, but will thrive in higher humidity, especially in the summer or hot, dry conditions (like near a heater). Your Spotted Begonia will also appreciate occasional misting to help remove dust from their leaves and keep brown tips at bay.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will not accept exposure to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The leaves are likely to wilt dramatically and begin to yellow.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Spotted Begonia leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 3 ft tall with a 1-2 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally a group of a few upright cane-like stems with large asymmetric leaves that tend to point straight down. Works best on a tabletop or shelf to show off that angelic foliage.

Format

Leaf Look

Graceful, angelic leaves known for their distinct 'angel-wing' shape in a rich olive green shade with silvery polka dots all over and red undersides.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

Your Spotted Begonia can quickly get quite tall and floppy. You may need to support the stems with stakes to keep them upright.

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

While not a species of begonia cultivated specifically for their flowers, you may be lucky enough to spot blooms on the Spotted Begonia. Hanging clusters of white or light pink flowers may appear from mid-summer to early fall.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Take extra care in winter to avoid overwatering.

Light

|

Bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

Your Spotted Begonia prefers bright, indirect light and lots of it, but will enjoy brief exposure to direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and expect the plant to take on an elongated, sparse look.

Humidity

|

Extra humidity appreciated in drier spaces.

Humidity Needs

Can adapt to average room humidity, but will thrive in higher humidity, especially in the summer or hot, dry conditions (like near a heater). Your Spotted Begonia will also appreciate occasional misting to help remove dust from their leaves and keep brown tips at bay.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but will not accept exposure to cold drafts or dry heat from vents. The leaves are likely to wilt dramatically and begin to yellow.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Spotted Begonia leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Size

|

An in-betweener. Not too big, not too small.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 3 ft tall with a 1-2 ft spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Upright cane-like stalks.

Overall Look

Generally a group of a few upright cane-like stems with large asymmetric leaves that tend to point straight down. Works best on a tabletop or shelf to show off that angelic foliage.

Leaf Shape

|

Olive green with polka dots and angel-wing shape.

Leaf Look

Graceful, angelic leaves known for their distinct 'angel-wing' shape in a rich olive green shade with silvery polka dots all over and red undersides.

Pro Tip

|

You may need to support the stems with stakes.

Pro Tip

Your Spotted Begonia can quickly get quite tall and floppy. You may need to support the stems with stakes to keep them upright.

Fun Fact

|

Look out for blooms!

Did You Know?

While not a species of begonia cultivated specifically for their flowers, you may be lucky enough to spot blooms on the Spotted Begonia. Hanging clusters of white or light pink flowers may appear from mid-summer to early fall.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every year in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Once matured, you can reduce repotting frequency to 2-3 years. This plant thrives slightly rootbound. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

Can be prone to legginess (or straggly, elongated growth). Regular pruning of the new growth (up to a third of the whole plant) will promote a fuller, bushier appearance. New leaves will emerge from the cut stem. Plus, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate! In addition, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

If you pruned a leggy Spotted Begonia, you can propagate with this apical stem cutting (the top of the stem where there is new growth). Trim the stem back a bit, if needed, leaving a decent section with 3-4 leaves and make the cut just below the lowest leaf. Remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting in water or another medium. Once the roots are a few inches long you can pot up your new Spotted Begonia! More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

There are four main types of begonias: fibrous, tuberous, canes, and rhizomatous. Begonia maculata, corallina and other angel wing begonias are in the cane category, while Begonia Rex varieties are part of the rhizomatous group. There are a few houseplants known commonly as begonias, such as the Watermelon Begonia and Strawberry Begonia that are not begonias at all.

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why is my Spotted Begonia growth sparse and leggy?

Symptom

New growth is straggly and thin with each new leaf spread far from the last.

Cause

A clear indicator that your plant isn't getting enough light. Most often, a plant gets leggy because they're trying to stretch towards the light, leading to long, stretched-out growth that makes the whole plant look a bit sparse rather than full and bushy.

Solution

You should certainly improve the lighting conditions for future growth, but this won't effect the straggly stems. You may choose to prune these thinner stems back, which will promote new growth where you cut. And if you've remedied the lighting, this new growth should be healthy and full!

More on lighting here.
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Why are the leaf tips on my Spotted Begonia browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Spotted Begonia wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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