The Begonia Dregei is also known as the Grape-Leaf Begonia, Maple-Leaved Begonia, Idula or Dwarf Wild Begonia.
This is a unique looking plant that has different features to most begonia varieties.
It features small, slightly split leaves that are green on the upper sides and red on the undersides.
It is also worth noting that the Begonia Dregei itself has a few varieties of its own. The more popular ones are
- Begonia ‘Richardsiana’ (Begonia dregei ‘Richardsiana’)
- Begonia dregei ‘Partita’
The plant is native to the tropical and subtropical regions in southern Africa.
How do you care for the Begonia Dregei? It enjoys medium to bright light but can tolerate low light. Keep it away from intense direct sunlight as this can burn its leaves.
Unlike many other begonias it has small flowers that are not as showy.
The plant enjoys warm, humid environments and moist soil. But it is prone to overwatering so be careful about adding moisture too often.
Begonia Dregei Plant Care
The Begonia Dregei enjoys medium to bright indirect light. It also prefers consistent lighting throughout the year.
This allows the plant to look good. And it also lets it bloom.
Note that the Begonia Dregei does not produce large flowers like some of the other begonia varieties do. But these do come out in number.
Plus, their white and yellow color provide a nice contrast to the green leaves.
As such, the best locations for the plant indoors are near an east or west facing window.
Both provide plenty of light with the east giving it gentle morning sun while the west supplying it with late afternoon sun.
That said, the Begonia Dregei does not mind low light.
That is, it will survive and look okay.
But in this environment, you’ll see the plant have more leaves and fewer flowers. If you like this look, then you can keep it towards a north facing window or somewhere in the inner rooms of your home.
Another alternative of course if to use fluorescent lighting.
Artificial lights allow you to control how much light the plant gets. And it also keeps the light consistent even through the winter.
Therefore, the plant will happily grow and produce lots of flowers.
Note that while the Begonia Dregei likes plenty of light, it cannot tolerate strong, direct sunlight.
This means it is a good idea to keep it from the sun’s rays during the middle of the day (10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).
It can tolerate 1-2 hours of this on a regular basis.
But longer periods will eventually cause the leaves to get scorched.
This likewise applies to outdoors.
Partial or slight shade is best. Avoid full sun and very shaded areas as well.
The Begonia Dregei will do well in temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the range it likes to live in.
Although its optimal temperature is around the 70 degree Fahrenheit level going up and down a few degrees. This is what it likes most.
That said, the most important thing about the Begonia Dregei is not to leave it in the cold.
It is not frost hardy and it does not like low temperatures.
Avoid anything under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
This goes for indoors or outdoors.
In the winter, you also want to keep the plant warm since once things go below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant can go semi-dormant.
Of course, avoid leaving it outdoors once the cold weather arrives.
Bring the Begonia Dregei indoors and keep it somewhere warm during this time.
The only exception here are in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 12. If you live in these areas, the plant will have no problem staying outdoors all year round.
The weather stays fairly moderate and sunny through the later months.
As with other begonia varieties, the Begonia Dregei thrives in high humidity.
It likes humidity between 60% to 80% and will grow more vibrant in this condition. However, it can likewise tolerate 50% humidity as well.
The thing is, its humidity preference can be high depending on where you live.
And the reason for this is that the plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions. As such, humidity tends to stay high in these areas.
Do note that whether you keep the Begonia Dregei indoors or outdoors does matter when it comes to humidity.
Almost always, outdoor humidity is higher than indoor humidity.
So, it is important to be aware of this. This also means it is a good idea to have a hygrometer indoors as it will let you see the different humidity in various rooms of your home.
If humidity is not high enough indoors, you can keep the plant in the bathroom or kitchen.
Both areas have the highest humidity in most homes since we tend to use lots of water there.
You can likewise mist the plant regularly or place it on a pebble tray.
Other things to avoid are heaters, air conditioners and radiators. These dry up the air significantly.
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How Often to Water Begonia Dregei
The Begonia Dregei does not need a lot of water. So, avoid adding more water than needed.
Also, try to avoid the temptation of watering very frequently.
You don’t need to water it daily or even every other day. The only exception to this is if the plant grows outdoors in the ground and you live in a tropical or subtropical region.
Otherwise, allow the soil to dry on the top layer or so between waterings.
You can stick your finger into the soil about an inch or two. If it feels dry, it is time to water. But never water before then.
Watering it when the soil is still moist or wet causes overwatering which can lead to root rot.
Instead, always wait for the soil to dry before adding more liquid.
That said, don’t let the Begonia Dregei completely dry out either.
Make sure that you water the plant before the root ball goes completely dry.
When watering, soak the root ball until you see water start dripping from the bottom of the pot then stop. Let the soil completely drain after.
This 2-step method ensures that:
- The plant’s roots get ample water to drink (when you soak the soil).
- The soil quickly drains and dries after, so you don’t end up with waterlogged soil or overwatered roots.
What you’re left with is moist soil and a plant that have gotten enough moisture.
Begonia Dregei Potting Soil
The Begonia Dregei thrives in moist but well-draining soil pH that is acidic to neutral.
It is very important to use soil with sufficient drainage as this will allow excess moisture to drain. On the other hand, heavy soil will hold too much liquid increasing the risk of overwatering.
Never use dense or compacted soil as well as this can lead to waterlogging.
In any of these cases, what you end up with are roots that are swimming in excess liquid.
This will cause them to rot sooner than later.
Instead, always ensure that the soil you use is well-draining.
You can easily make this potting mix by combining:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part peat moss
- 1 part perlite
The perlite is there to provide drainage and keep the soil light. if at any time you feel that the potting mix is retaining more moisture than the plant is comfortable with add a few handfuls of perlite.
Besides the right kind of soil, using a pot with drainage is likewise important.
This will allow any liquid that drains from the soil mix to drip out of the container instead of just accumulate at the bottom keeping the soil wet.
The Begonia Dregei is a moderate feeder.
Note that how much fertilizer it needs also varies based on how much light it gets. So, if you keep the plant in plenty of light, it will grow faster. Therefore, need more plant food to sustain this growth.
On the other hand, is less light, it won’t need as much.
This is likewise the case during the cold season which is why you either don’t want to feed the Begonia Dregei then or cut back on frequency.
Doing so reduces the risk of fertilizer burn.
That said, feeding the Begonia Dregei is easy and straightforward.
Just avoid overthinking things or trying to give it more than it needs to maximize growth.
You can use an all-purpose fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer. If the plant is not growth up to expectations, you can increase to once every 2 weeks.
It does note need to be fed in fall and winter.
Don’t forget that if you grow the plant in a container indoors, dilute the fertilizer by 50% using water each time you apply.
The Begonia Dregei is a fast grower when properly cared for.
It can reach between 1.5 to a little more than 3 feet high when it matures. Its spread can get to about as wide as 1.5 feet from side to side.
The plant usually takes 2 to 5 years to achieve its maximum height.
While it won’t require a ton of pruning, the Begonia Dregei does need to be prune every now and then. You can do this any time of the year.
Often, pruning involves removing excess growth or outliers that make the plant look weird.
You can likewise prune to encourage it to grow more.
However, avoid trimming off too much of the plant in one sitting. Instead, split up any pruning session and keep intervals between them.
As with other plants, remove any dead or discolored leaves.
How to Propagate Begonia Dregei
The Begonia Dregei can easily be propagated using tip cuttings. You can likewise propagate it from seed.
However, the latter takes much more time and effort.
So, it is less practical for most home growers.
On the other hand, tip cuttings are fairly easy and straightforward.
The best time to propagate the plant is spring to early summer.
Here’s how to propagate the Begonia Dregei from tip cuttings.
- Take a healthy tip that it at least 2-3 inches long. Cut just below a leaf.
- If you have rooting hormone you can apply that to the cut end. Otherwise, don’t worry about it since the cutting will propagate well without it anyway.
- Plant the tip cutting into a small pot filled with well-draining potting mix.
- Water the soil and keep it moist. You’ll need to do this as the soil dried. Avoid letting the soil completely dry out. But don’t overwater such that the soil stays wet.
- In about a month, enough roots will grow. And they will begin establishing themselves int eh soil.
From here, you have a couple of options.
You can keep the plant in the pot and let it keep growing.
Here, you’ll only need to repot once the new plant has outgrown the current one.
Alternatively, you can repot it into a slightly larger pot and use the potting mix you normally do for the mother plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Begonia Dregei
The Begonia Dregei will need repotting once it outgrows it container.
You’ll be able to tell by taking a peek at the bottom of the pot for any rooting coming out of the drainage holes.
No roots extending out means it does not need repotting.
Only repot when you see roots poking out of the holes. This tells you that the plant is already seeking space beyond the pot since it is getting crowded in there.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes. Unfortunately, the Begonia Dregei is toxic. And it is poisonous when ingested by people, dogs or cats.
This means you need to be careful where you place the pot or plant it in your garden.
Avoid putting in within reach of young children and pets.
Begonia Dregei Problems & Troubleshooting
The Begonia Dregei does well against pests and generally stays pest free. However, thrips, mealybugs and other insects can still occur.
So, while the risk for pests is low, you still need to regularly check the plant for any bugs.
These bugs can grow very rapidly in number which makes them a menace.
If you do see them, don’t wait.
Instead, immediately treat with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
That said, you may need to apply different treatments for some insects like caterpillars and the like.
On the other hand, disease can be an issue.
Powdery mildew can occur. And this is something that hounds begonia plants. Then, there’s also the issue of leaf spot infection.
Both of these are caused by wet leaves that stay wet or stagnant water on the surface of the leaves.
Therefore, be careful about over wetting the leaves.
If they do get wet, it is best to water in the mornings so there is sunlight to help the moisture dry faster. Good ventilation is likewise important to avoid this.
Meanwhile, stem and root rot likewise occur.
Here, the problem is more with overwatered soil or waterlogging.
As such, don’t water too frequently and allow the soil to dry slightly before adding more.