Begonia Maculata (Big Dot)
The Begonia Maculata, otherwise known as the Polka Dot Begonia, is one of the most unique plants in the world for its natural polka dot design. A mature Begonia Maculata can grow up to 1.5m tall and are mostly distinguishable for their unique leaf pattern. Colored an olive green which turns into an emerald green, these leaves feature pale green or white dots, giving this plant the nickname of the Polka Dot Begonia. Underneath this polka dot pattern is a red, purple, or burgundy underside of the leaf. Between spring and fall, the Begonia Maculata will bloom clusters of white or pale pink flowers on each stem. These flowers can bloom up to 3 times a year, and make the houseplant look even more unique.
History of Begonia Maculata
The Begonia Maculata was first discovered in Brazil in 1982 by an Italian researcher. They are also native to Mexico, South Africa, Asia, and parts of Central America as they thrive best in tropical and subtropical environments. The Begonia is a genus of plants in the Begoniaceae family. They are classified as perennial flowering plants. There are 1831 species of plants in the Begonia species, and usually come in a tuberous, rhizomatous, or upright-stemmed form in the wild.
Begonia Maculata Plant
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How to Care for Begonia Maculata
- Soil - Having the right soil for begonia maculata plants is essential because it allows the water to drain well. The perfect potting medium for silver spotted begonias is light potting soil mixed with some perlite and wood chips. You could also combine sand, clay, perlite, and loamy soil to create a begonia potting mix. Apart from draining well, a light, loamy soil that is aerated also helps with another care aspect. Oxygen circulates better in lighter soil, allowing the plant to absorb nutrients and thrive.
- Water - Water your begonia plants whenever the top part of the soil is dry, and the lower part is still moist. In summer, you may have to water the begonia weekly and in winter less often. However, the dryness of the soil determines when to water a begonia. When caring for your maculata plant, the goal of watering is never to have the soil mix too dry or too moist. Poke your finger in the soil. It the top feels dry and there is moisture below, it is a sign to water your begonia. Deep watering is better for your begonia maculata than shallow watering. Pour enough water through the soil until it drains out the drainage holes in the bottom of your pot. Wait until all the water drains before placing your plant back in a bright location. Watering your begonia this way ensures that the roots get enough moisture. Avoid splashing water on the leaves.
- Light - Angel wing begonias like bright light to thrive, but they need to be protected from direct sunlight. Although they tolerate some shade, bright filtered light is ideal. The best place for a potted polka dot begonia indoors is on an east- or west-facing windowsill. In a south-facing room, keep the plant pot away from the window to prevent the sun from scorching the leaves. The health of the spotted green leaves is an excellent way to know if your begonia Wightii is getting enough light. Too little light—and you will notice that the leaves lose their vibrancy. The green and silver colors may fade and eventually turn yellow. Too much sunlight—and the leaves may show signs of scorching and develop brown, crispy tips. If you live in warm climates and you grow silver spotted-leaf begonias outdoors, choose a bright but shaded area of your garden. Part shade or dappled sunlight prevents the sun from burning the begonias leaves. The same care advice is applicable if you transfer your indoor potted begonias outside in summer.
- Temperature - Even though begonia maculata plants come from tropical rainforests, average room temperatures are ideal. The ideal temperature range for polka dot begonias is between 65°F and 86°F (16°C – 30°C). Remember to keep the houseplant out of drafts as they can chill your indoor plant too much. As an outdoor plant, begonia maculata grows in USDA zones 10 and 11. They will grow well where water drains and there is partial shade. If you have your begonia maculata in pots outdoors in summer, bring them inside when the temperature starts dropping to 60°F (15.5°C). Any temperature below 59°F (15°C) can kill off your stunning polka dot begonia.
- Fertilizer - Feed begonias with a balanced fertilizer—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in equal quantities. Feed every two to four weeks in the months between April and September. The nutrient mix will keep the spotted green and silver foliage healthy and vibrant. Brown tips that blight the beautiful leaves are a sign of over-rich soil. Flush the soil and repot your begonia in fresh potting mix if necessary. Flushing with water helps to prevent a buildup of mineral salts. Every two to three months, pour plenty of water through the soil and allow it to drain. Resume feeding two weeks later. Too much fertilizer can damage your plant.
- Humidity - One of the most critical aspects of begonia maculata care is getting the humidity right. Begonias need at least 45% humidity and that is more than the average room. The three ways to get the air moisture levels right are these: grow them together with other plants, place on a pebble water tray, or use a humidifier.
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How to Propagate Begonia Maculata
One of the delights of caring for a Begonia plant is that they are easy to propagate. Growing new plants from cuttings lets you increase the number of potted houseplants. You can also delight your friends by gifting one of these unusual tropical plants. Here are instructions on how to propagate begonia maculata:
- 1. Cut a stem so that there are at least two nodes on it.
- 2. Place the cuttings in a jar of water.
- 3. Wait for a few weeks until roots appear.
- 4. Plant the begonia in a pot with fresh potting mix.