How to Care For the Polka Dot Begonia – All You Need To Know
Have you discovered the Polka Dot Begonia yet? Also known by its Latin name, the Begonia Maculata, this beautiful botanical is one of the most exciting Begonias around thanks to its show-stopping spotty leaves and gorgeous autumnal colours. It’s a relatively new plant, having only been discovered in recent decades, but it’s already proving oh-so-popular. We bet you can see why!
Whether you’re looking to add interest to your indoor jungle or want to know more about this unique plant, we’ve pulled together this one-stop care guide to give you all the information you need. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Polka Dot Begonia fun facts
There’s so much more to love about this fascinating plant than its distinctive white polka dot spots (even though they are stunning to look at). This botanical’s part of the Begonia family containing over 1,500 different plant species. It’s also known as an “Angel Wing Begonia” due to the shape of the leaves. But that’s not all – here are more fun facts for you to discover.
- The Polka Dot Begonia was first discovered in 1982 in Brazil by an unnamed Italian researcher.
- The Begonia Maculata grows predominantly in the Atlantic rainforest but has also been introduced in Cuba, Mexico, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.
- The plant can grow up to a metre high with the right care.
- During spring and summer, it grows sweet little white and pale pink flowers.
- Begonias are closely related to cucumbers, melons and pumpkins.
Polka Dot Begonia care tips: a complete guide
Despite its fantastically detailed and ornate appearance, Polka Dot Begonias aren’t as tricky to care for as they look. It’s easy to feel intimidated by this beautiful botanical because of the amount of detail on the leaves, but you needn’t feel overwhelmed. As long as you know the basics (which we’re about to share with you), your plant will thrive.
The Polka Dot Begonia likes its soil to be nice and moist, so it needs frequent and consistent watering. However, that doesn’t mean it likes sitting in excess water. You can check whether your plant’s due a drink by putting your finger into the top layer of soil. If it feels dry, you can confidently water your plant. Hold off for a few days if it feels a bit too wet, though.
Bear in mind your plant will have different water requirements depending on the season. Aim to water your plant once every four days during the height of summer when it’s hot and every two weeks in the coldness of autumn and winter.
Light and position
The Polka Dot Begonia is quite relaxed when it comes to its sunlight requirements. It prefers to live in bright, indirect sunlight, but it’s also happy to live in low light. This means it’s the ideal botanical for homes and offices that don’t get too much natural sun. However, the more light your plant gets, the quicker it’ll grow. It can’t be in direct sun, though, or its leave will scorch and turn brown.
Because this beautiful botanical comes from the Brazilian rainforests, it does like at least 45% humidity. This is more than what most homes provide, so it’s up to us plant owners to keep their green beauties nice and moist. There are three good ways to provide enough humidity:
- Group multiple plants together, as they’ll create humidity for one another
- Use a humidifier or mist your plants using our Zab plant mister
- Remove it from its ceramic pot occasionally and pop your plant on a pebble water tray
The ideal temperature range for your Polka Dot Begonia is between 18 to 30°C, which is about right for most homes. It’s worth having a room temperature thermometer on hand to make sure the temperature doesn’t dip too much – especially in winter.
This gorgeous green beauty is a firm favourite amongst plant people because it’s the perfect height for a coffee table or sideboard. It can actually grow up to one metre, but it tends to reach around 30 to 40cm (above the growing pot) as an indoor houseplant.
Soil and feeding
Polka Dot Begonias do best in a light potting mix that retains moisture well. Palm soil mix is an excellent option, as it allows for drainage but doesn’t compact after frequent watering. It likes a balanced fertiliser, our Plantsmith Houseplant tonic is a good choice.
Also, because Polka Dot Begonias are flowering plants, they benefit from a high-quality fertiliser every 2-4 weeks during spring and summer (or April to September) – which are the growing seasons. They don’t need fertiliser from October to March, as they grow so slowly. Don’t overfeed your plant either, as this can be harmful.
We’ve already mentioned how Polka Dot Begonias produce gorgeous little flowers through spring and late summer. When the flowers appear, they grow on a single stem in small clusters with sunny yellow centres. The best way to ensure these flowers grow is to place your plant in the right spot. Also, allow it to become slightly rootbound, as this encourages the flowers to bloom.
Pruning is a vital part of your Begonia’s care if you want it to appear as big and bushy as possible. For best results, prune your botanic twice a year (once in late autumn during the end of the growing season) by snipping off around 0.6cm from the top of the stem. You should find that your houseplant grows outward, not upward.
Polka Dot Begonias are really easy to propagate, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular. Doing so is already very easy with these steps:
- Cut a stem from the plant, leaving two nodes or more
- Pop them in some water
- Keep them submerged in water until you start to see roots appear
- Plant the cuttings in a small pot, adding fresh potting mix
Once your plant has begun to grow, you can give it as a gorgeous gift for someone special.
Top 3 care tips to keep your plant happy
While our care guide has tonnes of useful information to help your plant thrive as much as possible, these three care tips are the most important and will ensure your botanical has a happy and healthy life.
- Make sure the soil remains a little moist without drying out or becoming over-saturated
- Keep it away from direct sunlight and ensure it has enough natural light to grow big and bushy
- Fertilise it during the growing months to give it a helping hand
Polka Dot Begonia FAQs
Here are the answers to some of our most commonly asked Polka Dot Begonia questions.
Are Polka Dot Begonias toxic to cats and dogs?
These plants are mildly toxic to animals and small children. Ideally, you should keep your plant as far away from them as possible. However, the Polka Dot Begonia shouldn’t cause too much harm unless your pet ingested lots of it. If you’re worried, choose a plant that is safe for pets instead.
Why are my Polka Dot Begonia’s leaves curling?
Most of the time, curling leaves are caused by a lack of nutrients. If you don’t fertilise your plant during the growing seasons, it’s definitely time to start or it may not get the nutrients it needs. This should make a significant difference to your botanical’s appearance.
Other causes include inadequate lighting and temperatures, so take a close look at whether your plant’s position is the best place for it.
Why are my Polka Dot Begonia’s leaves dry?
Polka Dot Begonia dry leaves are most commonly caused by direct sunlight burning and scorching them. While the plant likes sunlight, it must be filtered to prevent burnt leaves.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning everything there is to know about the Polka Dot Begonia. Isn’t it such a gorgeous plant? Styling inspiration was taken from @hughes_at_home. If you have any more questions about caring for this beautiful botanical, we’re never too far away. Drop us an email at [email protected] and we’d be happy to help. Until next time, plant people!
Lots of love, Team TLB xx