How to Care for Begonias as Houseplants - Backyard Boss
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How to Care for Begonias as Houseplants

Begonias are a diverse, showy group of plants that thrive indoors and out. Their blooms and foliage come in many colors and shapes, and some even have painted markings on their leaves. It’s no wonder they’re such a popular houseplant. 

Begonias truly make a bold statement in the home, but some are better suited for indoors than others. Learn about four begonias that make great houseplants and how to care for them.

1. Polka Dot Begonia

begonia maculata
Image Credit: Diem Nguyen via Pexels

Perhaps one of the most popular begonias out there, the polka dot begonia (Begonia maculata) is one of the easiest for which to care. This cane-type begonia sports large angel-winged leaves with polka-dotted silver markings, the perfect blend of beauty and hardiness.

It’s an unfussy plant, making it perfect for gardeners of all levels. This begonia is happy as long as it has moderate to partial light and water. 

Although the polka dot begonia can survive in lower light, less-than-ideal conditions will alter its appearance. Lower light will, unfortunately, cause the plant to lose its leaf shape and stunning purple-red undersides. But, if left in direct sunlight, you’ll notice the leaves begin to scorch.

While the polka dot begonia enjoys a humid environment, it doesn’t like getting its leaves wet. An excellent way to offer the humidity it needs is to place it on top of a pebble tray. 

2. Painted Leaf Begonia

Begonia rex
Image credit: Joshua McKnight via Pexels

The painted leaf begonia (Begonia rex) is another popular variety to bring into your home. Known more for its multicolored leaves instead of blooms, the painted leaf begonia comes in many different colors. That includes the likes of purple, green, white, silver, and black. 

The painted leaf begonia enjoys bright but indirect light. Keep it away from direct sunlight, especially the harsh, scorching summertime rays.

As for its watering regime, the painted leaf is slightly more finicky than the polka-dot begonia. Water it evenly, but plant parents should be careful not to overwater it. Allow the top half of the soil to dry out between watering. This is important as the painted leaf begonia is prone to root rot, which will happen if you repeatedly overwater it. 

The painted leaf begonia enjoys a humid (above 50 percent) environment but not having wet leaves, as that can lead to mildew. 

3. Mazae Begonia

pot of begonias
Image credit: Dex Ezekiel via Unsplash

This compact begonia is a little more of a wallflower than its flashier counterparts. However, its beautiful tear-shaped leaves will make quite a statement as a houseplant. 

Classified as a “scandent variety,” Begonia mazae has bushier, heavier foliage, and its dark green leaves weigh down its stems. It tends to trail downwards, so a great spot for mazae might be on the edge of a bookshelf. 

Caring for the mazae begonia requires a little bit of a green thumb since it needs the conditions to be just right to thrive. In fact, the colors of its leaves vary depending on how much light it gets. Ideally, provide mazae with bright, indirect light.

While it prefers moderately high humidity, mazae doesn’t enjoy any moisture directly on its leaves. The mazae begonia appreciates a very well-draining soil mix with adequate drainage. If you put it in a spot with good air circulation — it’ll be delighted.

This plant also responds very well to pinching, making it easy to attain a full and bushy begonia. 

4. Eyelash Begonia

Begonia bowerae “Tiger”. Begonia bowerae, the eyelash begonia is native to Mexico but it is a popular houseplant worldwide. This cultivar produces brindle leaves.
Image credits: Fabrizio Guarisco via Shutterstock

Last but not least is the eyelash begonia (Begonia bowerae), another ultra-dramatic begonia to have in your home. This plant gets its common name from the little white hairs that line the edges of its leaves. The eyelash begonia is compact with showy foliage that appears deep green with purplish-black markings. 

This begonia has shallow roots, so it prefers a shallow pot with a well-draining soil mix. It likes a brightly-lit spot with air circulation and enjoys a fair amount of humidity. But don’t get its leaves wet since that can increase the chance of powdery mildew

Due to its bushy nature, the eyelash begonia will be an outstanding fit for a hanging planter or a prime spot on a tabletop. It also takes well to pinching, making it a fuller, bushier plant in no time.  

General Care Tips

Humidity and temperature sensor for proper care of plants at home. Begonia decorative deciduous in the interior of the house. Hobbies in growing, caring for plants, greenhome, gardening at home.
Image credits: Simol1407 via Shutterstock

While they differ in appearance and level of care, there are many common threads when caring for begonias as houseplants. Generally, begonias prefer a brightly lit spot in the home with shelter from direct sun, good air circulation, and well-draining soil.

Also, it’s important to remember that begonias thoroughly enjoy humidity above the average 50 percent but don’t like getting their leaves wet. So, swapping out a misting bottle for a pebble tray is a good bet.

Grouping begonias with other humidity loving plants also boosts moisture in the air, because water evaporates from their stems and leaves, creating a microclimate. Of course, this isn’t ideal if there is a potential pest issue.

Admire Its Beauty

Begonias are some of the most stunning plants around, as diverse as they are fabulous. Many of them make excellent houseplants. For stunning foliage provide them with the proper care and living conditions. 

Can you think of any other begonias that would be a great fit as a houseplant? Write them down in the comments below, and feel free to share this article with your begonia-obsessed friends.