The Begonia Maculata Wightii is also called the Begonia Wightii, Angel Wing Polka Dot Begonia or the Polka Dot Begonia.
Its gets many of these names from its angel-like wings and the white spots that cover the surface of the foliage.
The plant is a cane begonia. This group of begonias have asymmetrical angel wing leaves that grow on bamboo-like stems.
The plant is native to Brazil.
How do you care for the Begonia Maculata Wightii? Give the plant bright, indirect light. It can tolerate low light as well. But cannot tolerate intense direct sunlight.
Allow the soil to dry slightly before adding more water. And feed with fertilizer one every 2-4 weeks during its growing season.
Begonia Maculata Wightii Plant Care
The Begonia Maculata Wightii can tolerate different lighting conditions. But it will grow best in medium to bright indirect light.
The plant can stay in low light and do well too.
However, you do want to want to monitor it every now and then because it has a light threshold. And when illumination goes below that it will struggle.
You’ll know this as the plant will start growing much slower. Not only does I growth slow but it will also push out fewer leaves. And the ones it has will not grow as big.
If it really lacks light, the plant will turn leggy.
Similarly, you can look to the leaves for clues as well. Its foliage will gradually lose their color depending on how low the light is. And they can turn yellow.
Should you see any of these signs occur, move the plant to a brighter spot.
If it has leggy stems, prune those to allow new healthy growth.
On the other hand, very strong sunlight is likewise not a good idea.
Again, the telltale sign here will be its leaves. You’ll see its dark green leaf color fade. And it very harsh, intense light, they could burn as well.
So, what does this all mean?
Indoors, the plant does best near an east or west facing window. These directions provide gentle sunlight because the east is where the sun rises while the west is where the sun sets.
Morning and late afternoon sun are bright and offer a lot of light. But they are not very intense.
In contrast, distance the plant from the South facing window. Keep it at least 3 feet away to avoid the direct rays of the sun.
That’s because the mid-day sun between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. will usually be the harshest.
More importantly, the Begonia Maculata Wightii cannot tolerate this kind of exposure for more than 2 or so house regularly.
If you want to keep the plant closer to the window, another option is to filter the light coming in by placing sheer curtains or something similar
Outdoors, partial shade is best. Keep it away from full sun.
The Begonia Maculata Wightii enjoys consistently warm weather. It will be happiest if the temperature is kept steady all year round.
This is why it does very well indoors, including homes.
Indoors, we keep temperature regulated because we enjoy a certain level of consistency as well as far as climate goes.
For the Begonia Maculata Wightii, it is native to the tropics and subtropics where the temperature stays warm to hot all year round.
There are no winters and there is no snow.
Instead, there is perpetual sunshine and a warm, humid weather.
This is why the Begonia Maculata Wightii thrives in temperatures between 65 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. And if possible, keep it within that range at all times.
Indoors, this means keeping the plant away from air conditioners, heaters, stoves, ovens, fireplaces and open windows where cold drafts can enter.
The trickier part is outdoors.
If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, the plant will love living outside. That’s because these locations have warm, sunny weather 365 days a year.
While it can get slightly cooler or much hotter, the changes usually stay within the plant’s preferred temperature range.
Plus, it has no problems dealing with hotter temperatures as well.
On the other hand, it will struggle if you leave it anywhere colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Try to avoid this as its growth will slow down. And the longer it stays below its temperature tolerance the more problems it will experience.
This is why in colder regions the Begonia Maculata Wightii is often kept as a houseplant.
But you can take it outdoors once the weather warms up around mid to late spring. Just make sure to bring it back indoors around mid to late fall when the temperature starts dropping again.
The Begonia Maculata Wightii will grow best in high humidity. It likes humidity between 60% to 80%. And it won’t mind even higher levels.
However, do be careful with going very high because it increases the risk of some diseases including stem rot and fungal infections.
It is also worth noting that the plant can tolerate lower humidity.
But try to keep it at least 45% to 50%. This will allow the plant to do well.
I’ve seen some plants stay in lower humidity and they will survive. But they won’t flourish as they would in higher levels.
So, if you do leave it in lower humidity, try to monitor its growth and behavior to see if it reaching your expectations.
If you notice brown leaf edges or crispiness, it means the plant needs more humidity.
Similarly, if you notice that the plant is unable to flower or there is unexplained leaf loss consider upping the humidity to see if this improves things.
Another thing to keep in mind is, avoid air conditioners, heaters and radiators as they will significantly dry out the air in rooms quickly.
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How Often to Water Begonia Maculata Wightii
The Begonia Maculata Wightii enjoys moist soil. It does not like to stay too dry. Nor can it tolerate wet, soggy soil.
This is why watering the plant can get a bit tricky.
It is likewise important to note that the plant is susceptible root rot. Therefore, you want to be very careful about overwatering.
Overwatering is the most common reason for root rot.
As such, you want to be on the safer side and stay a bit drier than wet.
The plant is able to recovery faster and better from dryness. And it won’t have a problem with underwatering unless you allow the entire root ball to go completely dry.
On the other hand, watering too frequently results in leaving the roots sitting in too much water. This will prevent them from getting enough oxygen.
When this happens, the roots will eventually suffocate if the water does not drain. This is how root rot occurs.
Therefore, the best way to know when to water the Begonia Maculata Wightii is to wait until the top 1-2 inches of soil has dried before adding more water.
By allowing part of the soil to dry, you significantly reduce the risk of overwatering.
If you want to be even safer, you can wait until the top 25% or 50% of soil has dried before you water. The roots will still be well-hydrated by this time because the soil below is still moist.
Also, when watering, don’t pour water all over the plant.
This will get the leaves all wet.
If they don’t dry quickly enough, you encourage fungal disease like powdery mildew to grow.
So, a better way to water the plant is pour directly into the soil instead of over the entire plant.
Begonia Maculata Wightii Potting Soil
The Begonia Maculata Wightii needs rich, well-draining soil that stays moist.
This combination allows the soil to stay moist as the plant likes it. But it also quickly gets rid of excess moisture so the roots don’t end up sitting in too much water for very long.
As such, avoid heavy soils and anything that is meant to retain moisture. These will hold too much water that you increase the risk of overwatering and root rot.
Similarly, it is not a good idea to use regular houseplant potting soil on its own, at least not without any amendments.
Here’s what you can add to potting soil to make it perfect for the Begonia Maculata Wightii.
- Wood chips
Perlite will help make the soil lighter. It will also improve aeriation so the roots get more access to oxygen. Additionally, perlite increases drainage to get rid of excess water.
Wood chops are what they sound like, small chips of wood.
Because these are chunky and in small particles, they provide space in between the soil allowing for water to penetrate easier but also to drain faster.
The extra air pockets between the chips also increase aeration.
Compost adds organic materials or nutrients into the soil. This will help it grow.
Together, they modify regular houseplant potting soil to make it work very well for the Begonia Maculata Wightii.
In addition to using well-draining soil for the plant, it is likewise important to make sure the pot the plant is in has drainage.
Otherwise, any liquid that drains from the soil ends up pooling at the bottom.
This will just keep the soil wet anyway.
Therefore, make sure that you choose a container with drainage holes at the bottom so the excess moisture has a way to get out of the pot.
The Begonia Maculata Wightii needs feeding to grow optimally.
Even if you’ve added compost or some fertilizer to the soil mix, you’ll still want to apply fertilizer to make sure the plant grow as expected.
However, if you did add fertilizer in the soil, you can reduce the fertilizer application here.
That said, fertilizer is important as it provides the plants with essential macro and micronutrients that will allow it to reach its full potential.
The good news is there’s no special fertilizer needed for this plant.
And it is not picky.
So, you have many different options when it comes to feeding it.
The most common most gardeners will go with is a balanced fertilizer. This kind of fertilizer contains equal parts of NPK.
Apply every 2 to 4 weeks when the plant is actively growing. This is during spring and summer or the warmer months.
Dilute the dose by 50% each time you apply to avoid over fertilizing the plant.
The Begonia Maculata Wightii is a fast grower that will reach about 5 feet tall.
So, while most of the images you see online or the plants you’ll see in the store are small enough to fit on a tabletop, it will eventually develop into it large part.
Its leaves will likewise “hang downwards” which make them uniquely beautiful.
That said, the plant will produce quite a few leaves. Although, these won’t get in the way of each other and they drape downwards in their own spaces.
You can prune the plant if you feel that it has gotten too bushy.
Some people like to keep the plant looking trimmer and neater. Meanwhile, others prefer it thick and bushy with tons of leaves.
As such, how much pruning you do will depend on your preference.
But make sure to remove any dead, old, discolored or diseased leaves.
How to Propagate Begonia Maculata Wightii
Begonia Maculata Wightii propagation is easy as you can do so with stem cuttings.
Here, there are two main things to consider.
- Taking proper stem cuttings to ensure that they can propagate.
- Do you want to do water propagation or soil propagation.
I’ll go through each one below.
The first and most important step of propagating the Begonia Maculata Wightii to get healthy stem cuttings.
In addition to each stem cutting being helps you want two other things.
One is that each cutting should have at least 1-2 nodes on it. There is no compromise here. If the cutting does not have a node, it will never propagate.
Second, get cuttings with 2-3 or more leaves.
Once you have this, you can cut the stem about half an inch below the cutting. And you’re ready.
You can get one or several stem cuttings depending on how many new plants you want to grow.
Next, choose between water propagation or soil propagation.
I’ll go through both methods below and you’ll end up with the same results, albeit the timing, amount and thickness of the roots and how soon the cuttings root and develop leaves will vary.
Water propagation is a 2-step method. You root the cutting in water. Then move them to a pot to allow them to grow from there.
In water propagation, begin by placing the stem cuttings in a jar of water. Make sure the nodes are submerged along with part of the stem.
Remove any leaves that end up in water as these will rot. But keep the top leaves for photosynthesis.
In about 3-4 weeks, roots will develop.
Once the roots reach at least 1-2 inches long or more, you can transfer the cuttings to a pot filled with well-draining soil mix.
Soil propagation is a 1-step method. That is, you skip the part of rooting the cuttings in water. Instead, you root them directly in soil.
Take the healthy cuttings and apply rooting hormone to the cut end.
Remove any lower leaves to expose any extra nodes as well.
Then plant the cuttings into a pot filled with well-draining soil mix.
Water the soil until moist.
In about 4-6 weeks, the new plant will have gown enough roots to establish it.
How to Repot or Transplant Begonia Maculata Wightii
When it comes to repotting the Begonia Maculata Wightii, there are two trains of thought.
One is to repot every 2 or so years when the plant has outgrown its pot and is showing signs of being root bound.
This method works and it is the traditional way to repotting the plant that most gardeners will go with.
But another option is to repot yearly.
Here, you don’t necessarily need to increase the pot size unless you see that the plant is root bound and its roots are getting overcrowded in the pot.
However, taking the plant out of its container annually allows you to change the soil.
That’s because the Begonia Maculata Wightii has densely packed roots. As such, the soil can get spent and it is a good idea to replace the soil with fresh, well-draining soil.
In doing so, you ensure the soil does not get compacted and stays porous with good aeration and drainage. Additionally, you’re able to replenish the nutrients in the soil.
Yes, this is more work especially if you have many other plants.
But it also benefits the plants.
In any case, which method you go with ultimately depends on you, how much time you have and how you want to care for your plants.
When deciding on a pot for the Begonia Maculata Wightii, choose a heavier container. That’s because the plant will get top heavy as it gets thicker.
You can use a stone pot or a terracotta pot. Another option is to use plastic or a lighter pot and put it in a heavier container.
If the plant is indeed root bound and needs more space when repotting, choose a container that is one size larger. Don’t get tempted to skip steps.
There are two reasons for this.
One is that a very large pot means much more soil in the container. When you water, there’s more liquid to overwhelm the roots. And it takes much longer for higher volume of soil to dry.
The other is by giving the roots a lot more extra space, you’re telling them to keep growing.
Unfortunately, the Begonia Maculata Wightii’s energy and resources are limited. So, it will allocate more energy on growing the root system and take this energy away from foliage development.
That’s not what anyone wants since the leaves are the most attractive part of the plant.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the Begonia Maculata Wightii is toxic when ingested. And this affects people, cats and dogs.
Consuming any part of the plant will lead to inflammation, pain, swelling and other side effects like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and many more.
Therefore, avoid placing the plant anywhere kid and pets tend to play or can reach.
Begonia Maculata Wightii Problems & Troubleshooting
The Begonia Maculata Wightii is not overly prone to pests. But it can experience them.
This means it is always important to check the plant’s leaves for any signs of these bugs. Regular cleaning also keeps dust away from the plant which helps since insects are attracted to dust.
The most common pests that come for the Begonia Maculata Wightii are mealybugs, whiteflied, aphids and mites.
These are sap sucking insects that will grow in number very quickly.
So, it is important to treat them as soon as you spot any.
Neem oil or insecticidal soap spray both work to get rid of them.
Stem rot, root rot, powdery mildew and leaf spot disease are common with the Begonia Maculata Wightii.
Because they are very bothersome and some being deadly to the plant, prevention is much better than spending a good amount of time treating them.
Stem and root rot are often caused by excess moisture. Overwatering and very high humidity are usually the main culprits here.
On the other hand, powdery mildew and leaf spot disease occur in the leaves.
These occur due to the leaves getting wet and not drying soon enough. As such, don’t allow stagnant water to say on foliage.
The best way to prevent this is not to wet the plant’s leaves when you water it. Instead, pour directly onto the soil.