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Botanical name: Begonia rex-cultorum
Common names: Painted-leaf Begonia, Fancy Leaf Begonia
Begonia Rex commonly called Painted-leaf Begonia or Fancy Leaf Begonia is an easy to grow Begonia which is grown for its foliage display where the large, lop-sided, spectacular leaves occur in various hues.
Fancy Leaf Begonia 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 be mixes of greens, silver, white, reds, pinks, yellow, purple, orange, maroon and so on.
Painted-leaf Begonia grows to a height of 1-2 ft 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.
The original Begonia Rex originated from India but the species has been replaced by numerous hybrids like Merry Christmas, Silver Queen, Yuletide, Her Majesty among many others.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.
Beautiful Begonia Rex are available online at Etsy. Buy the spectacular Begonia Rex (Painted-leaf Begonia) from Etsy.
Photo Credit: Ecuagenera
Begonia Rex (Painted-leaf Begonia) thrives in in bright, indirect light with some direct sunshine, average warmth, humid conditions and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.
Painted-leaf 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, to encourage a compact growth and to rejuvenate growth. Read on for a detailed account on the best growing conditions and how to provide them.
Begonia Rex grows best in bright light with a few hours of morning or evening sunshine away from hot direct sunshine to avoid scorching the leaves.
Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the Painted-leaf Begonia gets light on all sides for uniform growth.
Fancy Leaf Begonia can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.
Water the Begonia Rex during the growing season but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to keep the soil moist.
Decrease 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.
Painted-leaf Begonia cannot tolerate soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.
Therefore, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Avoid wetting the leaves as it may lead to the rotting of the plant and water from the bottom instead.
The best temperature for growing Begonia Rex indoors is an average warmth with a minimum of 150C. It cannot tolerate temperatures below this range.
Keep the Painted-leaf Begonia away from cold draughts to prevent sudden drop in the temperature as it can negatively affect growth.
Begonia Rex requires a humid environment for optimum growth. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Check these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Do not mist Painted-leaf Begonia as wetting the leaves may lead to fungal infestations. Clean the leaves regularly by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and reduce pest infestations.
Feed Begonia Rex every 2-3 weeks during the growing period with a balanced, liquid fertilizer for a lush growth.
Do not feed Painted-leaf Begonia during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time, therefore, the plant does not need it.
Repot Begonia Rex every year during the growing season only if it has become pot-bound. The leaves of a pot-bound plant will lose their color.
Use a pot one size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease.
You can divide a large Painted-leaf Begonia into several sections and pot each seperately for more plants.
The best soil for Begonia Rex 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 the plant. Purchase quality Potting Mix for Fancy Leaf Begonia online from Etsy.
Pruning Begonia Rex involves removal of yellow and dead leaves to keep the plant neat and reduce pest infestations. Pinch 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 the pruning can be used to propagate new plants.
Begonia Rex (Painted-leaf Begonia) can be propagated from stem cuttings or by plant division at the beginning of the growing season. The stem cuttings root easily, therefore, 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. Strip off the lower leaves.
Insert the cuttings in moist, free-draining potting mix and place the set up in a warm, well-lit spot away from direct sunlight.
Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the new Painted-leaf Begonia to be well established before transplanting after which you can begin routine care.
Divide a large Begonia Rex plant into sections during repotting time while ensuring each section has some roots.
Pot each section into individual pots in moist, free-draining potting mix and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.
Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist through out until the new plant is well established.
Allow the new Painted-leaf Begonia to be well established before transplanting it after which routine care can begin.
Photo Credit: Ball Seed
Begonia Rex (Painted-leaf Begonia) problems indoors are caused by cultural faults and they include yellow leaves, brown leaf tips, leaf drop, rotting, pests and diseases among others. Continue reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.
Brown leaf tips in Begonia Rex are caused by little humidity especially where the temperatures are very high.
To elevate humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier but do not mist the leaves to avoid fungal diseases infestations.
Yellow leaves in Begonia Rex are due to two possible reasons. One possible cause of yellow leaves is too little light.
Move the Painted-leaf Begonia to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light with some morning or evening sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not sufficient.
The second possible cause of yellow leaves in Fancy Leaf Begonia is too little or too much water.
Keep the soil moist at all times but not soggy and never allow the soil to dry out completely.
There are three possible causes of leaf drop in Begonia Rex. The first possible cause of leaf drop is too little light.
Position the Fancy Leaf Begonia in a brighter spot as it grows best in bright light with some morning or evening sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.
The second possible cause of leaf drop in Painted-leaf Begonia is too much heat due to hot drafts like stoves, hot surfaces, hot air vents and others.
Keep the Fancy Leaf Begonia away from hot drafts and maintain an average room temperature for the plant to thrive.
The third possible cause of leaf drop in Begonia Rex is too much water in the soil (soggy soil).
Make sure that the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Pale, rotting leaves in Begonia Rex are caused by soggy soil which is brought about by 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 in Begonia rex are an indication of Powdery Mildew which is enhanced 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 powdery mildew.
Improve ventilation to ensure that there is good air circulation for the plant.
Avoid wetting the foliage during watering and water from the bottom instead.
Maintain the temperatures at an average warmth and keep the plant away from cold drafts as they cause sudden drops in temperatures.
Brown blotches which turn grey and moldy in Begonia Rex 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.
There are three possible causes of plant collapse in Begonia Rex. One possible cause of plant collapse 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 cause of plant collapse in Painted-leaf Begonia is Nematodes (Root Knot Eelworm) which are characterized by swollen bumps on roots.
The third possible cause of plant collapse in Fancy Leaf Begonia is Vine Weevil which is characterized by tunnels in the rhizomes.
The other common pests in Begonia Rex are spider mites and aphids. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the disease.
Begonia Rex (Painted-leaf Begonia) is toxic to pets as outlined by ASPCA. 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. Therefore, always wear gloves when handling Painted-leaf Begonia.