How to grow and care for Begonia Rex Indoors

Begonia rex

Begonia Rex is grown for its foliage display. It is easy to grow and is easy to propagate from stem cuttings. The original Begonia Rex originated from India but the species has been replaced by numerous hybrids like Merry Christmas, Silver Queen, Yuletide, Her Majesty among many others. In their natural habitat Begonias grow as understory plants in moist shady to partially shady conditions in the tropical and subtropical regions in South and Central America, Africa and southern Asia.

This Begonia grows to a height of 12-24 in.and about the same width. It bears large lop-sided leaves about 6-12 in. long and 4-5 in wide with a hairy leaf stalk. Begonia Rex has a clumping growth habit with the foliage tightly packed together. The leaves arise from rhizomes and may be ruffled, puckered, spotted, streaked, waxy, smooth and so on. The colors are also very diverse; they may mixes of greens, silver, white, reds, pinks, yellow, purple, orange, maroon and so on.

How to Grow Begonia Rex

Light

Bright light with a few hours of morning or evening sun is ideal for Begonia Rex. Keep it away from direct sunlight. Occasionally turn the pot to ensure the plant grows uniformly on all sides. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

For optimum growth of Begonia Rex, keep the soil moist during the hot months but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold months as growth is minimal. Avoid waterlogging of the soil as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum of 160C is ideal for Begonia Rex. Protect the plant from cold draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Begonia Rex requires a humid environment for optimum growth. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for this Begonia. Avoid wetting the leaves as it may lead to rotting.

Feeding

Feed Begonia Rex with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal.

Repotting

Repot Begonia Rex every year during the growing period. The leaves of pot-bound plants lose color. Use a pot one size larger and one that has a drainage hole. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. A large Begonia Rex plant can be divided into several sections and each potted seperately.

Pruning

Pruning Begonia Rex involves pinching of the growing tips to encourage a compact growth. Cut back the bare stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth. the foliage emanating from pruning can be used to propagate new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Begonia Rex

Begonia Rex can be propagated from stem cuttings or by division at the beginning of the growing season.

Propagating Begonia Rex from stem cuttings
Stem cuttings root easily thus there is no need for a rooting hormone. Take 4-6 in. long stem cutting from a healthy Begonia Rex. Ensure it bears at least one leaf node. Insert the cutting in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist through out until the new plant is well established. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Propagating Begonia Rex by division
Divide a large Begonia Rex plant into sections during repotting time. Pot up each section into individual pots in moist free-draining soil. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole. Place the set up in a cool well-lit place. Maintain the soil moist through out until the new plant is well established. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Begonia Rex

  • Yellowing leaves
  • The leaves of Begonia Rex may yellow due to two reasons. One is too little light; Begonia Rex prefers bright light with a few hours of sunlight. Two is too little or too much water; maintain the soil moist at all times but not soggy.

  • Loss of leaves
  • There are three reasons for loss of leaves in Begonia Rex. One is inadequate light; Begonia Rex prefers bright light with a few hours of sunlight. The second reason is too much heat; the best temperature for Begonia Rex is average room temperature that is a temperature that is comfortable for you is good for this plant. Third is too much water (waterlogging); ensure the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole.

  • Brown leaf tips
  • If the air humidity is too low, Begonia Rex will respond with brown leaf tips. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for this Begonia.

  • Pale, rotting leaves
  • The reason for pale, rotting leaves in Begonia Rex is waterlogging of the soil. Maintain the soil moist but not soggy. Ensure the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging.

  • White powdery spots
  • This is an indication of Powdery Mildew. Isolate the plant, cut off diseased leaves and spray a fungicide. Avoid damp conditions and low temperatures. Improve ventilation.

  • Brown blotches, turning grey and moldy
  • This is an indication of Botrytis Disease. Isolate plant, cut off diseased parts and treat appropriately. Avoid low light and over damp conditions and improve air circulation.

  • Plant collapse
  • There are three reasons for plant collapse in Begonia Rex. One is Stem Rot Disease due to waterlogging. The second reason is Nematodes (Root Knot Eelworm) which are characterized by swollen bumps on roots. The third reason is Vine Weevil which is characterized by tunnels in the rhizomes.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Begonia Rex are Aphids and Red Spider Mites.

Toxicity

Begonia Rex is mildly toxic to humans and pets. If the foliage is ingested it can cause burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The roots are highly toxic if ingested. If handled with bare hands, the sap may cause contact dermatitis.

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