DecorativeHouseplants

Grow & Care Guide for Rieger Begonias

rieger begonia

Rieger Begonias, secondarily known as Elatior Begonia, are native to Florida. This begonia is a hybrid plant, a mix between summer-blooming and winter-blooming begonias, developed by Otto Rieger.

This plant is quite fussy and needs specific care. Its selective nature makes this plant perfect for gardeners looking for a challenge. If you’re lucky and manage to keep your Rieger Begonia happy it can live up to three years. If the temperatures are too cold the plant will go dormant.

A plus about growing this plant in your living space or garden is its light air-purifying ability. With its colorful blooms, this begonia can brighten up any area. The Rieger Begonia usually blooms in the winter, but this can vary depending on the care and environment.

The flowers of this begonia are located on the top of the plant, blooming in clusters. This begonia has three to four-inch (7.6 to 10 cm), dark green leaves with prominent veins. The fleshy and thick leaf petioles are covered with fine hairs.

The flowers of Rieger Begonia come in many colors, such as yellow, pink, red, and orange. This begonia is fast-growing and can bloom every winter for up to three years.

Varieties

There are a different Begonias available. Each variation has a unique care system, different from the Grow & Care guide you are reading currently. Below, we have brought out three of them:

  • Eyelash Begonia – leaves come in all different colors. light green, dark green, black, and brown. The name comes from its slightly hairy leaves and stem. 
  • Polka Dot Begonia – has very intensely dotted leaves, the dots are silvery-white, and the leaves are green with a deep red base. 
  • Hardy Begonia – this begonia is one of the few varieties which can survive slight frost and be able to live outside over winter. 

Grow & Care

Rieger Begonias need warm to average temperature and humidity. You can grow the plant outdoors in the USDA Hardiness Zones 11 to 12. Because the Rieger Begonias won’t be able to stand temperatures too hot or too cold, it will thrive in temperatures between 60 and 70 °F (15 to 21 °C) in the daytime and between 50 and 60 °F ( 10.0 to 15.5 °C ) at the nighttime. The one thing this plant enjoys is fresh air, so ensure the air circulation is well off where you plan to place the plant.

Rieger Begonia
Rieger Begonia Source: Serres

Light

Rieger Begonias demand bright, indirect sunlight all year round to thrive. These begonias are photoperiod bloomers, meaning their blooms depend on the amount of sunlight they get. Try to provide, at least, four to six hours of morning sunlight to your Rieger Begonias. If the plant is exposed to too much sun its leaves will lose the dot pattern on their leaves and eventually scorch away.

Mildly Toxic

This plant contains a mildly toxic substance, calcium oxalate, which can be very irritating when ingested. Mostly after one taste of the plant, no one would want more because of its unpleasant taste.

Watering

When watering this begonia make sure to keep the top half inch (1.2 cm) of the soil dry between watering. You know you’ll need to water your begonia if the soil is dry to the touch.

Make sure not to splash the water onto the leaves, especially if watering in the evening, as the leaves won’t have time to dry the water off. This might bring on diseases to your begonia. Begonias are very sensitive to overwatering which can cause root rot.

If you spot yellowing leaves, leaves dropping from the plan, and brown leaf tips you’ll know that the plant has been overwatered. Your plant will also not tolerate misting.

Also what makes this plant a bit harder to care for is its sensitivity to the minerals found in tap water, we recommend you use collected rainwater or pure bottled distilled water instead. Also, ideally, the soil they grow in should be consistently moist but not swimming in water.

Rieger Begonia 'Glory Pink'
Rieger Begonia ‘Glory Pink’ Source: Serres

Soil & Fertilizer

The perfect soil for this begonia would be fast-draining, airy, and light soil. You can also use a mixture of four-part well-decayed leaf molds, one part garden loam, and one part coarse sand. You can also use a mixture of perlite or pumice and regular potting mix. 

You should feed your Rieger Begonia once a month with high-phosphorous liquid plant food. Make sure to fertilize while the plant is blooming, additionally, you should remove any withered flowers. Once the plant has stopped blooming you should stop fertilizing.

Pruning

When the Rieger Begonia has become too tall, leggy, and unsightly you can cut the plant back to just above the third or fourth leaf on each stem. Pruning should be done in the spring, in warmer climates, but in the fall, if living in a colder climate. Make sure to use clean shears, scissors, or a knife. After pruning make sure to water the plant accordingly so the new growth would be strong and lush.

Propagation

You can propagate the Rieger Begonia by cuttings:

  1. Use clean, shears, scissors, or a knife.
  2. Cut right below the node.
  3. Dip the cutting in rooting hormones.
  4. Place the cutting in a pot filled with moist potting mix.
  5. Place the pot with the cutting in a spot with bright, indirect light.
  6. Make sure to water thoroughly. 

You can also use a leaf cutting from this begonia to propagate, following the exact directions mentioned above.

Repotting

Repotting should be done only when the plant has outgrown its container. The best time for repotting would be in the spring. If repotted too often this begonia will struggle to thrive, because it does enjoy being root bound.

When repotting, make sure to get a pot only one size bigger than the previous one. If you notice the roots take over the whole pot you’ll know it’s time to repot. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes.

Pests

The most common pests you might encounter include mealy bugs, spider mites, scales, snails, thrips, and slugs. We do recommend being careful if you wish to use pesticidal soap to rid your begonia of these pests as they might be sensitive to some of these pesticidal soaps.

Before using a pesticidal soap make sure it is meant to be used on the Rieger Begonia. If any pests are spotted, remove any diseased and infected parts of the plant. To rid your plant of these pests you can use miticides. Make sure to keep an eye on your plant to spot the pests early, for easy removal.

Diseases

The most common diseases you might encounter include bacterial blight, broad mites, and impatiens necrotic spot virus. To treat these diseases you should use a fungicide, appropriate for this begonia, every week until the disease is gone. Make sure to keep an eye on your Rieger Begonia to spot the disease early for easy removal.

Last Thoughts

Rieger Begonias are elegant and colorful plants that help brighten up any environment. Because the flowers this begonia blooms have no scent it is perfect for households with people and animals with sensitive noses.

With this Rieger Begonia, you can test your gardening skills and widen your knowledge of horticulture. This begonia is rare because of its winter blooms, so having this thriving under your care will be an achievement worth celebrating. 

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