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Begonia Maculata, also known as Begonia Maculata ‘Wightii’ or polka dot begonia, is a wonderful, whimsical member of the begonia genus easily recognized for its polka dot leaves.
Read on for everything you need to know about Begonia Maculata care and propagation!
Where can I buy a Begonia Maculata?
The begonia might be hard to find at your local garden center, but you can easily find one on Etsy. Check out this stunning polka dot begonia from one of my favorite Etsy shops!
How do you care for a Begonia Maculata plant?
The key to successful Begonia Maculata care is proper watering. They like to remain moist and should not be allowed to dry out.
Also, their leaves are sensitive to getting wet, so you need to be careful when watering. I’ll review this in more detail, as well as other care requirements, below.
Provide your Begonia Maculata with bright, indirect. Do not place them in direct light or this could harm the leaves.
If you don’t think you have enough light for a Begonia Maculata, no worries! There’s no need to give up your dreams of owning this stunning plant because grow lights are the perfect solution.
Below is my current favorite grow light. The clip and gooseneck lights make them so easy to use almost anywhere! And my plants have responded so well to them which is what really matters.
Check out my guide to grow lights for indoor plants for more help.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. This plant likes to remain MOIST, but that doesn’t mean it should stay WET. So, water your begonia when the potting mix is dry about a half-inch to an inch down.
To help maintain proper moisture, always feel the potting mix with your finger first to determine how wet it is before you water. Check it regularly so that you can make sure it doesn’t get too dry.
Begonia Maculata’s leaves are sensitive to getting wet. When watering, consider using a long-spout watering can so you can more easily avoid the leaves, or try the bottom watering method instead.
If you do get water on the leaves, just gently dab them dry with a tissue or cloth.
Does Begonia Maculata need humidity?
Native to Brazil, polka dot begonias prefer humid environments. However, you should not mist the leaves because they are sensitive to getting wet.
Instead, try a different method, like using a humidifier. This is my preferred method simply because it takes such little effort.
Below is my current favorite humidifier because it can last up to 96 hours…which means less refilling I have to do!
You don’t need to worry about an exact temperature. Begonia Maculuata prefers warmer temperatures, but it will be fine in normal household temperatures.
Native to a tropical environment, it doesn’t like to get too cold, so for example, if you have it on a windowsill or near a drafty door you might need to move it in the winter.
A general indoor plant potting mix with extra perlite added in for better drainage will work fine for this plant.
Begonia Maculata benefits from fertilizer, but as with any plant, don’t overdo it.
You can use a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength every three to four weeks during the growing season (spring and summer).
You should repot your Begonia Maculata once a year. However, they do like to be rootbound, so you might only need to change out the old potting mix while keeping the same pot.
If you do need to increase its pot size, use one that’s just one size up and has good drainage.
Pruning your begonia is beneficial to help with legginess and promote fuller growth, and in general to keep it thriving and healthy.
Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut above a node (where leaves and roots grow out of the stem) to encourage new growth. “Above” a node means the node will not be included on the part you cut off.
Prune off any leggy growth, unhealthy leaves, and dead flowers. If you have any dead or dying stems, you can just cut those back completely.
If any leaves have brown tips, you can just cut off the brown part instead of the whole leaf. Cut in a spot that’s still in the brown, not on the healthy leaf part, which will prevent the brown from spreading.
If you have a large, mature begonia that looks like it’s really in need of some maintenance, you can prune up to two-thirds of it at once.
Foliage and Flowers
Begonia Maculata has green leaves with silver-white polka dots, hence, polka dot begonia. The leaf shape resembles angels’ wings, which is why it’s also known as an angel wing begonia.
They bloom beautiful white or light pink flowers with yellow centers.
How do I get my Begonia Maculata to flower?
- First and foremost—more light! Make sure you are providing your begonia with plenty of bright, but indirect, light.
- Allow it to become rootbound, which this plant prefers anyway.
- Fertilize it regularly.
- Provide it with more humidity if the air is very dry.
How big does a polka dot begonia get?
In optimal conditions, the polka dot begonia is a fast grower and can reach four to five feet tall. If you have a very large and tall begonia, you’ll need to support it with a small trellis or stakes.
Problems and Pests
Why is my Begonia Maculata dying?
Begonia Maculata sometimes suffers from a few common problems, but fear not, it doesn’t always mean it’s dying. Below are some problems you may encounter with this plant along with their common causes.
- Brown, crispy leaf tips
- Your begonia is probably too dry. Proper watering is the most tricky part of this plant’s care. Make sure you’re feeling the soil moisture regularly so that you can water it before it gets too dry.
- It could also be the air that is too dry. Try using a humidifier to raise humidity levels.
- Yellow leaves – This is most commonly caused by overwatering. Again, make sure you are feeling the soil for moisture BEFORE watering.
- Tall and leggy stems – Commonly caused by not enough light. Move it to an area with bright, indirect light and follow the instructions in the “Pruning” section of this post.
- Powdery mildew – Commonly caused by getting the leaves wet, which Begonia Maculata is sensitive to. Use a long-spout watering can to help avoid the leaves or use the bottom watering method. If the mildew problem is bad, you can use a fungicide to treat it. Be sure to read the directions on the label first and use caution with kids and pets around.
- Pests – Pests are not a huge problem but potential pests include mealybugs and whiteflies. While there are more in-depth ways of dealing with specific pests, for general houseplant pest control I like to use Bonide Systemic Insect Control. Read the instructions on the label and use caution with kids and pets around.
How to Propagate Begonia Maculata
Begonia Maculata can be easily propagated in water or in potting mix.
Propagate Begonia Maculata in Water
Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to take a cutting from your plant, or if you’ve been pruning, simply use the cuttings you’ve pruned off.
Make sure you have at least one node, more if possible, and at least one leaf on your cutting.
Regarding where to make the cut, with this plant, you don’t need to be so careful about cutting right below a node because while the new roots will still tend to cluster around the nodes, they will also grow anywhere on the stem.
Place the cutting in a jar of room-temperature water and put it in bright, indirect light. Make sure the leaves aren’t under the water’s surface.
Change out the water about once a week or when it looks murky, and top off the water level when needed.
In a few weeks, you should see roots developing. When the roots are two to three inches long, pot them up into an appropriately sized pot with potting mix.
Give your plant a good watering and start caring for it like you normally would. Note that it may need a little time to adjust to its new home.
Propagate Begonia Maculata in Potting Mix
To propagate your plant in potting mix, follow the same first step as above to take a cutting from your plant.
Then, instead of putting it into a jar of water, stick your cutting into a small pot with moistened potting mix. Put the pot in bright, indirect light, and keep the mix lightly moist, but not wet, for the next few weeks as the roots develop.
You can also use a humidifier or put a clear plastic bag over the top of the cutting to help increase beneficial humidity levels. Remove the bag once a day or so to let in airflow.
In a couple of weeks, your roots should be pretty developed. You can test this by very gently tugging at the stem and feeling if there is resistance.
If a root system has developed, you can start treating your cutting like a normal plant.
Is the polka dot begonia pet safe?
No—Begonia Maculata, or the polka dot begonia, is toxic and therefore not pet safe. Be sure to keep this plant out of your furry friends’ reach.
Here are some of my favorite houseplant supplies:
Full-Spectrum Clip-On LED Grow Light. Why I love it – The clip makes it so easy to put almost anywhere, and the two lights with their adjustable necks make it super versatile. The timer and dimming functions are also so handy.
Stackable Moss Pole. Why I love it – Plants that climb in the wild will benefit from being able to climb in your home, too. But the thing about plants is, they grow! It’s not helpful to have one small moss pole. This pole comes with two stable pieces and once your plant surpasses those, just order another and keep stacking!
Full-Spectrum Stick-On Grow Light Strips. Why I love it – These stick-on light strips work perfectly for my greenhouse cabinet shelves. They would also come in handy if you’re keeping plants in something with a top, like a bookshelf. These lights also have a timer and a dimming function.
Whisper-Quiet 1.7-Gallon Ultrasonic Humidifier. Why I love it – Using a humidifier is one of my favorite ways to provide humidity to my plants. This humidifier lasts up to 96 hours, which means less work for me!
Top-Fill 2.8-Liter Ultrasonic Humidifier. Why I love it – This humidifier is a little more budget-friendly. It’s extremely easy to refill and it can last up to 24 hours!