Begonia maculata (Polka Dot Begonia) Indoor Care, Propagation, Problems and Solutions


Begonia maculata, Polka Dot Begonia, Trout Begonia, Spotted Begonia

Botanical name: Begonia maculata
Family: Begoniaceae
Common names: Polka Dot Begonia, Trout Begonia, Spotted Begonia

Description

Begonia maculata also called Polka Dot Begonia, Trout Begonia or Spotted Begonia is an evergreen shrubby plant which bears large, glossy, olive-green leaves blotched with white dot-like spots and hence the common name.

The undersides of the leaves are beautifully red-colored. This evergreen flowering Begonia may be less spectacular in bloom than other Begonias but has the advantage of keeping its beautiful "Angel Wing" leaves through out the year.

Polka Dot Begonia is one of the popular cane-stemmed Begonias and is easy to grow and propagate.

Size

Spotted Begonia can reach the height of 8 ft or more if left unpruned.

Flower

Trout Begonia flowers are large clusters which hang from the stems.

Origin

Begonia maculata is native to the tropical regions of Brazil.

Where to Buy

Beautiful Begonia maculata in various sizes are available online at Etsy. Buy Begonia maculata (Polka Dot Begonia) from Etsy.

Begonia maculata, Polka Dot Begonia, Trout Begonia, Spotted Begonia

Begonia maculata Care Indoors

Begonia maculata (Polka Dot Begonia) grows best in bright, indirect light, average warmth, average humidity and consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with weekly feeding during the growing season.

Polka Dot Begonia needs repotting only when it has become extremely pot-bound as it grows best when slightly root-bound.

Regular pruning is required to keep it neat, to reduce pest infestations and to rejuvenate growth. Keep reading for more on theese growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Begonia maculata grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves.

Rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for a uniform growth.

Polka Dot Begonia will also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.

Watering

Water Begonia maculata thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil consistently moist.

Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead in root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.

Temperature

The best temperature for growing Begonia maculata indoors is an average warmth with a minimum 150C. Lower temperatures will affect the growth of the plant.

Keep Polka Dot Begonia away from cold draughts to prevent sudden drops in temperature as they can cause leaf drop, flowerbud drop and reduced growth.

Humidity

Begonia maculata has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is adequate for this plant.

However, where the room temperatures are too high making the air too dry, raise humidity by setting the pot on wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Begonia maculata with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every week during the growing period to promote a healthy growth.

To promote blooming, apply a phosphorous-rich, water-soluble fertilizer weekly when buds begin to form.

Stop feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and feeding at this time can cause fertilizer burn and death of the plant.

Repotting

Repot Polka Dot Begonia at the beginning of the growing season only if the plant has become root-bound or is too large for the pot as the plant prefers to be slightly root-bound.

Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one to avoid overpotting it which can result in the soil staying wet for too long.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease.

Do not repot a flowering Spotted Begonia as the shock of repotting can cut short the flowering period.

Soil

The best soil for Begonia maculata should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant. Buy quality Potting Mix for Polka Dot Begonia from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Begonia maculata is easy. Remove the dead flowers, yellow and dead leaves to keep the plant neat and reduce pest infestations.

Do not pinch the growing buds as this is where the flowers emerge from.

Cut back the bare stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth.

The foliage emanating from the pruning can be used to propagate new plants.

Propagation

Begonia maculata is propagated during the growing season from stem-tip cuttings. The stem cuttings root easily, therefore, there is no need for a rooting hormone.

How to propagate Begonia maculata from stem-tip cuttings

Take a stem-tip cutting from a healthy Begonia maculata of about 3-5 in. and ensure it bears at least two sets of leaves. Strip off the lower leaves.

Insert the cuttings in moist, free-draining potting mix and position the set up in a warm, brightly-lit place.

Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the new Polka Dot Begonia to be well established before transplanting after which you can begin routine care.

Begonia maculata, Polka Dot Begonia, Trout Begonia, Spotted Begonia

Begonia maculata Problems with Solutions

Begonia maculata (Polka Dot Begonia) growing problems include leaf drop, yellow leaves, brown leaf tips, rotting, plant death, flowerbud drop, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to solve them.

Leaf drop

There are three possible causes of leaf drop in Begonia maculata. One possible cause of leaf drop is too little light.

Move the Spotted Begonia to a brighter spot where it will get bright, indirect light or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not sufficient.

The second possible cause of leaf drop in Polka Dot Begonia is too much heat from hot drafts.

Keep the plant away from hot drafts like heaters, stoves, radiators and other hot places.

Maintain an average room temperature for optimal growth of the plant, that is, a temperature that is comfortable for you is good for the plant.

The third possible cause of leaf drop in Trout Begonia is too much water in the soil (soggy soil).

Ensure that the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

Flower bud drop

There are two possible causes of flower bud drop in Begonia maculata. One possible cause of flower bud drop is dry air which leads to low humidity.

To increase humidity, set the pot on wet pebble tray or grow the plant in a bathroom and other moist areas in the home. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

The second possible cause of flower bud drop in Polka Dot Begonia is underwatering (too little moisture in the soil).

Maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Yellow leaves

The leaves of Begonia maculata may turn yellow due to two possible reasons. One possible cause of yellow leaves is too little light.

Position the Polka Dot Begonia in a brighter spot as it grows best in bright, indirect light or invest in a grow light to supplement the natural lighting.

The second possible cause of yellow leaves in Begonia maculata is too little or too much water.

Ascertain that the soil is moist at all times but not soggy during the growing period.

Cut down on watering during the cold season but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Brown leaf tips

Brown leaf tips in Begonia maculata are due the air beigh too dry (low humidity) especially where the room temperatures are very high.

To up the humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier but do not mist the leaves as it can cause fungal disease infestations.

Pale, rotting leaves

Pale, rotting leaves in Begonia maculata are caused by soggy soil which is due to poor soil drainage.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy during the growing season. Water less during the cold period to keep the soil only slightly moist.

Make sure that the soil is free-draining and that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy (overwet).

White powdery spots

White powdery spots in Begonia maculata are an indication of Powdery Mildew which is brought about by over damp conditions, low temperatures and poor air circulation.

Isolate the affected plant, cut off the diseased leaves and treat it appropriately for the disease. Read on how to treat powdery mildew in houseplants.

Improve ventilation to ensure that there is good air circulation for the plant.

Avoid wetting the foliage during watering or water from the bottom instead.

Maintain the temperatures at an average warmth and keep the plant away from cold drafts which cause sudden drops in temperatures.

Brown blotches which turn grey and moldy

Brown blotches which turn grey and moldy in Begonia maculata are an indication of botrytis disease which is promoted by overwet conditions coupled with poor ventilation.

Isolate the affected plant, cut off the diseased parts and treat it appropriately for the botrytis disease.

Avoid overwet conditions by ensuring that the soil is well-drained and that there is good air circulation for the plant.

Plant collapse or death

There are three possible causes of plant collapse or death in Begonia maculata. One possible cause is stem-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil (too wet soil).

Isolated the affected plant to minimize spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the stem-rot disease.

The second possible reason for plant collapse in Begonia maculata is Nematodes (Root Knot Eelworm) which are characterized by swollen bumps on roots.

The third possible reason for plant collapse in Polka Dot Begonia is Vine Weevil which is characterized by tunnels in the rhizomes.

Pests

Other common pests in Begonia maculata are Aphids and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Toxicity

All parts of Begonia maculata (Polka Dot Begonia) and especially the roots are considered toxic to pets as outlined by ASPCA. If ingested it may cause burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains.

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