DecorativeHouseplants

Polka Dot Begonia Growing Guide

polka dot begonia

The Begonia Maculata, better known as the Polka dot Begonia, originates from southeast Brazil and is part of the Begoniaceae family. Begonia Maculata is a great houseplant with a growing fanbase.

This easy-care plant will thrive in moist and warm conditions, perfect for kitchens or bathrooms. Its beautiful spotted, deep green leaves with wavey edges and rusty-red undersides will make a statement in any home or garden.

As the name states it has playful silver-colored spots, which decorate the leaves. If you treat this eye-catching plant with enough light you may be graced with seeing the plant’s graceful white blossoms on and off throughout the year.

You can place the plant outside, that is if you provide it with enough shade, or in a hanging pot beside a door or inside where your eyes can always gaze upon this marvelous plant.

Toxicity

Although Begonia Maculata isn’t considered toxic, it can cause irritation and vomiting when ingested. Keep the plant away from children, dogs, and cats. The most toxic part is underground. 

Caring

This easy-care plant needs just a little love and attention. Love for warmth and moisture makes it perfect for a bathroom or kitchen. Doesn’t need constant care, just a tad of attention now and then.

Watering

Water the plant once a week in the summer and spring, and once every two weeks in the winter and fall. You can tell when the Polka dot needs watering by the top half-inch, when it’s dry you can water it. Polka dot might like moisture and humidity but do not mist this plant.

Misting the Polka Dot Begonia can give life to fungal issues and root rot. An excellent method to water this Begonia is bottom watering. Place the plant into a tray or bowl filled with water and let it soak up the water until its soil is moist. 

Light

Keep Polka Dot Begonia in a spot with bright light with shadows casting over it for the bigger part of the day. If Begonia Maculata gets excessive light, the tips of the leaves will turn brown and fade in color.

On the other hand, if there’s not enough light, it’ll grow tall and thin with no blossoms and delicate stems. Place it in front of a big window with sheer curtains, keeping it from direct sunlight. Polka Dot Begonia will grow nicely with about four hours of sun a day.

Polka Dot Begonias Source: Chris

Soil & Fertilizer

Soil pH levels should be between 6.1 and 7.5, so mildly acidic to neutral. The best soil for Polka dot would be soil that’s high in nutrients and well-aerated. To help create a porous form you can add equal parts of pumice, peat moss, and perlite

Fertilize the plant every two to four weeks when the plant is actively growing aka in the summer and spring. Fertilize with a water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer.

Do not feed the plant in the late fall and winter, as this is the plants resting period. Polka dot is sensitive to excessive fertilizer as it can damage the leaves.

Climate

Because the Polka dot Begonia is tropical, it flourishes best in warm and humid conditions. A relative humidity level of 45% and over is ideal. The best temperature is no lower than 59 °F ( 15 °C).

If the ideal climate is impossible to attain then you can also place the plant on a tray of moist pebbles. In the summer, the plant will do great outside in some shade. This plant can grow outdoors in the USDA Hardiness zones 10-11.

Repotting

Repot the Polka Dot Begonia annually every spring. They love small ceramic pots, 1 – 1.5 inches (3 – 4 cm) in diameter larger than the root system. Always make sure the container you’re planting your Begonia has drainage holes.

Avoid repotting too often because the plant is root-bound. Replace the old pot with a new pot one size bigger. When potted into a container too broad they will struggle to grow and eventually wither away.

Begonia Maculata Wightii
Flowering Begonia Maculata Wightii Source: Robert

Propagation

The prime time for propagating would be spring:

  • With sharp shears or scissors cut off 10cm (4 inches) shoots without flowers below the leaf node
  • Place the cutting in a glass of water
  • Place into a warm and light spot
  • The preferred temperature is 68 °F (20 °C)
  • Change the water every 3 – 5 days.
  • The formation of roots can take a couple of weeks or a couple of months.
  • Once the roots have formed plant them into a pot with high-quality potting soil.

Pruning

To encourage further growth of the lateral leaves you must prune your Polka dot Begonia. When the plant has grown too big or when it’s fall pruning is very much welcome. This Begonia sort is very leggy, so do not be afraid to prune your plant, Polka Dot will welcome it. Remember to use sharp sheers or high-quality scissors.

Pests

Polka dot Begonia may attract pests: aphids, blackflies, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, and more. Keep an eye on your plant, checking the undersides of its leaves and nooks, to spot the pests early for easier removal. 

To remove pests take a white cloth or paper and hold it under the leaves, then tap on the leaves. If the plant has pests, black dots will fall onto the white paper or cloth. To remove spider mites, take the plant outside and spray it with a garden hose or shower it. This way pests won’t spread to other plants.

Diseases

Polka dot Begonia may be affected by the following diseases: root rot, anthracnose, leaf spot, gray mold, rust, powdery mildew, and southern blight. To avoid these make sure the plant is getting the right amount of sunlight and isn’t being over or underwatered.

To treat these diseases you can treat them with fungicides. Once the infection is sited isolate the plant from others and follow the instructions on a fungicidal bottle.

Final Words

This eye-catching, bold-looking plant has an easy care routine. With its minimal attention need it’s perfect for a beginner or someone with a busy life looking to bring life-giving decorations into their living spaces.

Thanks to its growing popularity the plant is easier to find in stores paired with acceptable prices. Its beauty will be a great conversation starter or something interesting to gaze at now and then. 

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